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Game #2348
Hall of Belated Fame Inductee  Gabriel Knight: Sins of The Fathers    View all Top Dogs in this genre
Adventure   Traditional third-person

Rating: 9.14 (859 votes)

Gabriel Knight: Sins of The Fathers box cover

Gabriel Knight: Sins of The Fathers screenshot
Arguably the best adventure game series ever made, Gabriel Knight not only sets new standards of interactive storytelling, but also proves that computer games can be no less literate, mature, well-informed, and thought-provoking than other media. Jane Jensen has created in a disheveled, egotistical, and tormented New Orleans writer one of the most memorable computer game protagonists of all time, and thrust the term "Schattenjäger" into the public spotlight. Every new Gabriel Knight game not only has an even better story than the last, but also pushed the technological envelope at Sierra in creative ways that no other designer can match. In Sins of The Fathers, Jane stretched the capabilities of Sierra's icon-based interface by adding new commands, and used it in several new ways (such as allowing the player to write whole passages in Voodoo language, or send drum codes). While The Beast Within seemingly succumbed to the FMV (full-motion video) fad in late 1990s, the game today stands as prime example of how an FMV game *should* be done: with outstanding acting, gripping atmosphere, and an intuitive interface that sacrifices none of the challenging puzzles. Similarly, the amazing character-independent movement modes and interface in Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned is testament to how 3D can actually enhance gameplay in adventure genre.

The first game in the series, Sins of The Fathers, tells the story of a struggling, no-good writer coming to grips with his dark family history and accepting his fate to become the next Shattenjäger -- 'shadow hunter'. As Gabriel Knight, who also owns a bookstore, you are researching the "voodoo murders" for your new book. The authorities, including your policeman friend Mosely, believe that the voodoo aspect is faked by the murderer, and that the real voodoo cult does not exist in New Orleans. With the help of Grace Nakimura, your assistant, you will slowly unravel the web of intrigue that leads to the powerful voodoo cult... as well as your own destiny.

What makes Gabriel Knight an instant classic as opposed to a merely good adventure is the astounding level of detail and research that went into the game, in addition to Jane's par excellence writing and a gripping plot. Never before in Sierra's history could you LOOK at so many items with customized descriptions beyond the usual "you don't see anything special". Items in the Voodoo Museum (patterned after the real museum in New Orleans) alone must have taken several months of intensive research. This lends an air of authenticity to the game's supernatural/occult plot, which greatly enhances the experience.

In addition to being the first Sierra game designed for mature audiences, Gabriel Knight also broke new grounds in every other respect. Instead of the usual TALK icon that yields stock responses from characters, there are now separate ASK and TALK icons. Clicking on ASK icon will bring you to a close-up screen, from which you can select a question from a range of topics. Asking the right characters the right questions to get new topics to appear on your list is one of the most essential ongoing puzzles in the game. In contrast to most other adventure games, every character in Gabriel Knight is fleshed out with tremendous detail; you can, for example, talk the small talk with Grace for hours on end to learn about her background, habits, and thoughts on various subjects. Similarly, the standard HAND icon has been replaced by a few different ones: TAKE, OPERATE, and OPEN/CLOSE. This obviously makes the puzzles harder, as you now have to think carefully as opposed to following the click-the-HAND-icon-on-everything-to-see-what-it-does pattern. Gabriel Knight really is decidedly more difficult than other Sierra games, although all the puzzles are logical, and expert Infocom fans will find them a bit on the easy side. A few puzzles -- sending drum codes and writing voodoo messages in particular -- deserve mention for being quite challenging, creative, and a lot of fun to solve. Jane Jensen, by no less than magic in my opinion, combines voodoo and Germanic myths, murder mysteries, and even romance in a game worthy of a motion picture. Gabriel Knight is much longer than an average Sierra game, but you will still be sad to see it end.

With impeccable writing, a gripping plot, and an excellent atmosphere, Gabriel Knight is a must have for every adventure game fan.

Note: the game first released in the floppy version, that came in a funky-shaped box (see box shot above). Sierra later released a CD-ROM version which features excellent voice acting by Tim Curry as Gabriel Knight -- which is well worth hunting for. The game also shipped with a very stylish comic book that sets the stage for the story and dovetails very nicely with the ending. And once you've become a Gabriel Knight fan like I am, be sure to visit Related Links below -- you'd be amazed how devoted many people are to the series. For example, Domain of the Shattenjagers hosts an exclusive compilation (October 2008 snapshot) of all the beautiful cut-scenes from the game, as well as the the "official GK fan fiction archive (September 2011 snapshot). There's even a great fansite (snapshot from April 2001) dedicated to Detective Mosely, the unsung hero of the series. One of the only ones still online today is this one featuring a walkthrough, points guide, some translations and links to more resources elsewhere.

Reviewed by: Underdogs
Designer: Jane Jensen
Developer: Sierra On-Line
Publisher: Sierra On-Line
Year: 1994
Software Copyright: Sierra On-Line
Theme: Mystery, Epic, Myth & Legend
None that we know of
System Requirements: DOS
Where to get it:
Related Links: New Orleans' Voodoo Museum info
If you like this game, try: Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of The Sacred, Blood of The Damned, Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within, Shadow of The Comet

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