by Mitchell “Moe” Long
It’s been five years since the last Gabriel Knight title, and twenty years since “Gabriel Knights: Sins of the Fathers” kicked off the franchise. Jane Jensen’s series follows quirky New Orleans writer Gabriel Knight as he investigates various paranormal phenomena, from voodoo to werewolves. The series offers wonderfully engaging narratives, immersive gameplay, and genuine, memorable characters. Continuing the Gabriel Knight saga, or rather reinventing it, is Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition, a lovely reunion with everyone’s favorite fictional author, and a beautifully refreshed romp through a revitalized game.
Don’t be fooled by the title of the latest notch in the Gabriel Knight saga. While anniversary editions often denote a mere re-release, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition is drastically different than its predecessor. It’s not exactly a remake or a reboot, but rather a remix: there’s a pleasing balance of preservation and innovation.
Loading the game for the first time, I was struck with déjà vu. The recognizable screen showing the day and a poetry quote are still there, but the real beauty is the environment. St. George’s Books seemed to have sprung to life, shedding a blocky cocoon and revealing a gorgeously hewn rendition. The facelift looks almost identical to the original 1993 version, now with mouthwatering visuals. Similarly, each location from the first game has been offered a makeover that lends a sense of familiarity while adding the impression of exploring uncharted territory.
However, while admirably faithful, the update spices up the original game more than just superficially. Old items are found in new locations, such as the tweezers found early on, and clicking about reveals added goodies to uncover. Gameplay is relatively the same, keeping an intuitive point and click interface. Navigation feels markedly fluid when compared to the 1993 iteration of “Sins of the Fathers,” aided undoubtedly by significant graphical enhancements. A nifty feature is a hint button. Holding down the space bar marks each clickable item in the room. It’s a nice touch for expediting gameplay, though as a purist and completionist, I preferred exploring on my own.
The most underrated aspects of Gabriel Knight, but two of the strongest, are voice acting and the score. Robert Holmes delivers a phenomenal soundtrack, helping to set the atmosphere. Yes, “When the Saints Go Marching In” makes an appearance, but it wouldn’t be a Gabe Knight game without the toe-tapping medley. Although different actors provide the voices, you’d never know if you weren’t paying attention during the opening credits. Gabriel’s “Don’t mind if I do…” lolls off his tongue in a perfect, lazy Southern drawl.
While Sins of the Fathers wasn’t crowdfunded directly, Jensen and Holmes’ studio, Pinkerton Road, took an innovative path: crowdsourcing itself. The notion, dubbed, “community supported gaming,” involved a Kickstarter that backed Pinkerton Road’s earlier release “Moebius” as well as a then-unannounced game; which turned out to be Sins of the Fathers: 20th Anniversary Edition. The idea is thought provoking, as backers had no idea exactly what they were funding. Announcements promoted Moeibus and “mystery game x.” A well-chosen “mystery game x,” the 20th anniversary edition of Sins of the Fathers offers a lovely stroll through Gabriel Knight’s old stomping grounds for longtime fans of the franchise, and an introduction to the series for newcomers. Hopefully we’ll see refreshed versions of The Beast Within, and Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned. As Gabe would say, “don’t mind if I do…”
If you’d like to learn more about the Gabriel Knight series be sure to read our Gabriel Knight Retrospective.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/moe.jpg” ]Mitchell “Moe” Long is a North Carolina writer with a passion for all things pop culture. Besides gaming, Moe enjoys cult classic films, listening to vinyl, and drinking far too much coffee. In addition to Cliqist, Moe writes about music and movies, and is currently composing what he hopes will one day be a novel about the universally awkward period of life known as high school. Feel free to check out and subscribe to his Examiner page as well as connect with him on Twitter. [/author]