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Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition Review by Kemal Ure

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition Review by Kemal Ure

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition Review by Kemal Ure

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition Review by Kemal Ure. "The Gabriel Knight remake preserves all the things that make the original game a legend while improving the graphics and audio, thus making it more accessible to younger gamers."


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Cognition and Moebius Available in JA Store


Let me begin by saying that the original Gabriel Knight: Sins of The Fathers (1993) is one of my all-time favorite adventure games. I find it very difficult to name any other adventure game that combines the amazing storytelling, mature themes, well thought-out puzzles and horror elements better than the original Gabriel Knight. I also know that I’m not alone, as the original game usually finds a spot among the top 10 whenever a major adventure gaming website puts out a list of the best adventure games ever released. I truly love the other two games in the trilogy as well, but I have to admit that the original Gabriel Knight game is the one that’s closest to perfection.

Now, 20 years later, we get a remake from Pinkerton Road (Jane Jensen’s and Robert Holmes’ new development company), which I hope will invoke enough excitement on the market for a sequel to the original trilogy. Before we get to the details, I want to state that the new Gabriel Knight is as awesome as it was before, and now it’s even more gorgeous, fresh and modern.

The Story

In terms of the story, the remake is completely loyal to the original game. Let’s recap it briefly for those who haven’t played the game before. Gabriel Knight is a bookstore owner/author in New Orleans. A string of murders that seem to involve elements of voodoo rituals are haunting the town. Gabriel is trying to write a book about these voodoo murders with the help of his detective friend Mosely. As the game progresses, Gabriel takes the investigation into his own hands and begins to uncover a secret v

oodoo cult in New Orleans, and as the plot thickens he also starts to uncover mysterious secrets regarding his own heritage.

The story of the game spans 10 days and is amazingly addictive. The story development is top-notch, with each day not only providing new events to experience, but also revealing more information about the background story, new characters, and the bigger picture. This is one of the things I miss when playing the majority of today’s adventure games. They usually have very little in the way of story development, with most of what the game is about being revealed at the beginning.

Gabriel Knight keeps surprising you by throwing in new elements and side-stories, even near the end of the game. This can actually become a bit overwhelming, but the plot is so neatly organized that you never feel out of focus. I think Jane’s recently released game Moebius also has this feature, and it’s definitely one of the highlights of that game.

One thing I always remembered fondly about Gabriel Knight is its fullness and diversity. This is another feat rarely seen in today’s adventure games. Beside Gabriel, the game has tons of characters, and they’re not just there to serve the story. Each has a life of his or her own which you can discover through extra dialogue choices. You feel like that they exist independent of Gabriel’s story and this adds an incredible depth to the game. The mixture of characters is also incredibly varied; you get everything from the mysterious femme fatale type to the ambitious art student and eccentric medium.

When it comes to Gabriel himself, you witness Jane Jensen’s undeniable talent at writing complicated protagonists. Gabriel has the perfect combination of traits that makes a man irritating and charming at the same time. Initially he comes off as a bit of a loser, a womanizing author who is struggling with financial problems. As the days pass, you start to notice significant changes in Gabriel’s character. He starts to unveil his emotional side and becomes increasingly more courageous and strategic. Actually, the whole game can be viewed as the transformation of Gabriel from a lazy bookstore owner into a Schattenjager (Shadow Hunter in German; I won’t spoil what that is for those who haven’t played the game yet). As with all good transformation stories, his conversion is slow-paced and realistic. This is why I strongly recommend playing the Gabriel Knight trilogy in chronological order. The factors which motivate Gabriel make much more sense in the later games when you’ve experienced his character development in Sins of the Fathers.

The Puzzles

I also think that Sins of the Fathers has very well-balanced puzzle design. These are mostly inventory-based and a fair number of the puzzles involve tricking and deceiving NPCs. My favorites are two logic puzzles involving voodoo rituals. They both occur in the middle of the game, and even though I’ve solved them several times before when playing the original game, it was still very satisfying cracking them when playing the re-make. You know a puzzle is good if it’s still making you smile when you’ve solved it for 6th time.

What’s New

All right, I think I’ve summarized the game enough for newcomers; now, let’s talk a bit about the revisions that come with the remake. It’s fair to say that the remake’s differences are mostly cosmetic, as the graphics, interface, voiceovers and music are completely revised while the story, dialogue and puzzles remain largely unchanged. Graphics are all HD and 3D now. I would be hesitant to call them state-of-the-art, but they definitely look gorgeous. The style very much resembles Phoenix Online’s other recent releases, particularly Cognition, but the camera views and objects in the scenes are all loyal to the original game. My favorite makeover is the cemetery. It definitely looks elegant and more detailed than before. However, I have to say that the number of people in some scenes has been reduced, which takes away some of the realism. The most notable example is the crime scene from Day 1. It looked busier, fuller and more realistic in the original game. I believe that these reductions may have been due to limitations of the game engine, but overall I think the graphical makeup is successful and the game definitely looks fresher.

As for the voiceovers, I’m genuinely surprised by their quality. The original cast is so good that I thought it would be impossible to top, but somehow the producers have been able to find new voice actors who resemble the original cast remarkably well. It did take me awhile to get used to the new voice of Gabriel (no matter how over-the-top his performance is, I am still a huge fan of Tim Curry’s work in Gabriel Knight I and III). As for the other characters, the new voiceovers are so well done that the originals are hardly missed. In fact, I actually think that the narrator voodoo lady’s voice is an improvement over the original. I remember being really irritated by her in the original game, but not so much in the remake.

For me, the real highlight of the remake is the music. Robert Holmes does an outstanding job rearranging and re-recording the original tunes. As with the game itself, the soundtrack is wonderfully varied. There are incredibly melancholic passages as well as lighter ones such as the Jackson Square theme. The main theme remains a classic and sends shivers down my spine every time that haunting piano melody airs. The fact that almost every scene gets its own theme never ceases to amaze me. It reinforces the ambience of each scene and puts an identity to it.

Another major change is the interface. The old-school and-redundancy-filled Sierra style screen is replaced with a modern point-and click-interface. We also get the two features than can now be found in almost any adventure game: a button to highlight all the hotspots, and in-game hints. I always find it intriguing how these features shorten the playing time of a game. If you rely heavily on them you can finish the game very quickly. Instead, I suggest that you use these features sparingly and explore the game on your own. As I mentioned earlier, the game is filled with extra dialogue and objects to investigate, and ignoring these to focus solely on story advancement can actually diminish your gameplay experience.

There are also some minor changes in the sequencing of events, and a couple of extra puzzles. For instance, in the original game, the workload between different days is a bit unbalanced. The remake corrects this by moving some puzzles from Day 1 to other days. The new puzzles, to be honest, are a bit disappointing. I’m not going to spoil them here, but they really seem like an afterthought, and are weak compared to the original puzzles in the game.

Performance Issues and Bugs

I’m very happy to say that this is the least buggy and most stable Phoenix Online game I’ve played so far. Every previous Phoenix Online release has significant performance issues and graphical glitches. While the Gabriel Knight remake is not perfect, its overall performance is much better when compared to Cognition and Moebius.

However, I will note that some of the walking animations still look weird. I seriously think Phoenix Online needs to hire more animators, as this is also a source of annoyance in Cognition and Moebius.

I did encounter one game-stopping bug in Gabriel Knight that really annoyed me. When reloading a saved game, make sure that you always use the reload option instead of opting for the “Continue” option, which is supposed to take you to where you left off. When I chose the “Continue” option, random locations from the map and some objects from my inventory would disappear, oftentimes resulting in a dead end which forced me to reload an earlier save. Make sure you save a lot, and remember, do not use the “Continue” option from the main menu.

Final Thoughts

In summary, the Gabriel Knight remake preserves all the things that made the original game a legend while improving the graphics and audio, thus making it more accessible to younger gamers. Remake or not, it’s a thrilling experience to play a new Gabriel Knight game, and I would burst into tears of joy if we can get a Gabriel Knight 4 in the future. Sins of the Fathers is always an A+ game in my book, and since the remake retains all the good stuff, I think it deserves the same score.

Final Grade: A+
 Preserves all the strong points of the original 
+ Amazing story, characters and puzzle design
+ Outstanding soundtrack
+ New graphics look good
– Weak animations


OS: Windows XP
Processor: 2.0 GHz
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: ATI or NVidia with 512 MB RAM
Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
Additional Notes: Minimum suggested screen resolution is 1024×768. Not recommended for play on Intel systems with integrated/shared video memory.


OS: OX 10.6
Processor: 2.4 GHz
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: 512 MB
Hard Drive: 4 GB available space
Additional Notes: Minimum suggested screen resolution is 1024×768. Not recommended for play on Intel systems with integrated/shared video memory.



Kemal Ure

Kemal Ure

Kemal Ure is an avid adventure gaming fan, artificial intelligence nerd and death metal bass player. He got hooked on adventure games at 1998 when he first played Grim Fandango. Later he discovered Myst and Gabriel Knight, which led him to start a personal quest on playing all the adventure games ever published. After years of gaming he discovered that he has a lot to say about adventure games and started writing reviews at his personal blog. Eventually he started writing for JustAdventure at 2014. He mostly prefers games with challenging puzzles and dark stories.He is currently a professor of aerospace engineering at Istanbul Technical University, Turkey. He got his PhD degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at 2015. When he is not teaching at the university or playing adventure games, he spends most of his time playing bass for various metal bands and composing music. He publishes bass playthrough videos regularly at his YouTube channel.

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