Twenty years ago, game designer Jane Jensen introduced point and click adventure game players to Gabriel Knight. Starting off as a struggling author with a family history of early death, players got a chance to look into his character and development in his first point and click adventure game “Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers.” Immersing players in mid 90s New Orleans, players guided Gabriel Knight as he uncovered a horrific voodoo crime ring, gained purpose in his life by learning about his family's role as Schattenjäger, and rubbing various objects against the environment until the story progressed as is expected of a point and click adventure game.
To celebrate Gabriel Knight's twentieth anniversary, the game development studio Phoenix Online Studios and Jane Jensen's game studio Pinkerton Road are proud to present the twentieth anniversary remake of “Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers.” Featuring improved graphics, new voice work, a new interface, a new character with associated puzzle, and a retroactive look at the original game, “Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers” is shaping up to be an excellent trip down memory lane. I parachuted myself into the first two days of Gabriel Knight's shoes to see how it looked and how well I could remember solving twenty year old point and click adventure games.
The graphics are the most obvious improvements to “Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father.” Gone are the retro pixels and most of the associated pixel hunting for inventory objects used for puzzle solving. The character models looks more realistic and their environments are more lively. They do clip into the background on occasion but this is still the demo build I was working with. The music matches the music of the original but now is crisper and clearer. The interface makes things a lot easier to navigate as I can easily talk, interact, and use inventory items with a simple click. Some inventory items have changed location but it's still pretty much the same puzzles I need to solve to continue the story. All in all, it's a passable upgrade on a classic point and click adventure game. Probably the biggest issue fans of the original could have is how all the voice acting has changed in this anniversary edition. Gone are Tim Curry, Mark Hamill, Michael Dorn, and Leah Remini playing the lead roles. The new cast for the most part sounds great minus a couple minor characters.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary, each game location features either pencil sketches or comparative screenshots from the original 90s game. The demo also showcased a new character and mentioned a puzzle associated with her, but she seems to be featured later in the game since I never ran into her during the first two in-game days.
While most of the fun and frustration of point and click adventure games comes from exploring the environment and rubbing those random objects together to see progress or hear the narrator quip about what a bad idea that is, the in-game hint system feels like a way to reduce such exploration. Various questions about progression are presented with a button that eventually becomes available to press after waiting for some time; with hints getting more overt with each press. It feels like spoon feeding the answers and perhaps a hint system that recharged during actual exploration would have been better.
But in the end, fans of the original Gabriel Knight games can look forward to an updated version of the charismatic hero with this “Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers” 20th anniversary edition. Hopefully the others will be worked on as well.