“My name’s Knight. Gabriel Knight”
I’ve been into point-and-click games ever since I was a kid. There’s something about them that fascinates me but I can’t put my finger on what. The first video game I ever played was LucasArts’ Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade so that might be the reason. In those days you were either a LucasArts person or a Sierra person and I was a LucasArts kid growing up. I never really played Sierra games because I had easier access to LucasArts games. And Sierra was a bit unfair, you could die for making your character take a shower! However, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers became an exception.
I stumbled upon Gabriel Knight by pure accident. I don’t remember the exact circumstances that led me to this game; they don’t matter at all though. The important thing is that this game has stayed with me over the years and it’s one I always go back to.
One of the reasons why I’m always coming back to this is the story. Gabriel Knight is a horror writer/bookshop owner/womanizer from New Orleans who lives near bankruptcy. On June 1993 he starts investigating a series of Voodoo-themed murders because he plans to write a book about them. While his friend Mosely (the lead detective in the investigation) believes that the voodoo aspect is fake, Gabriel thinks otherwise, so he starts investigating on his own.
Gabriel has vivid nightmares and he sees some aspects on that in the murders. And later on he discovers that the murders are tied to his ancestor’s past and his future, as he is the last in line of the “Schattenjäger”, who fight against supernatural elements.
“What can you tell me about Voodoo?”
Gabriel Knight is the brainchild of game designer and novelist Jane Jensen. After having worked in games like Police Quest 3 and King’s Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, Sierra gave her the option of creating her own series. Influenced by comic books such as The Sandman and Hellblazer and films like Angel Heart she set on creating her own paranormal investigator.
The game’s puzzles make sense (though there’s a couple too “gamey”) and the story is well-crafted and researched. You will get a lot of accurate information about Voodoo’s history. And the game also captures the main setting of New Orleans quite well. I’m not ashamed to admit that this game made me want to be a writer, visit New Orleans and made me obsessed with black leather coats (Gabriel wears one).
The game has great secondary characters like Grace, Mosely, Doctor John, Malia Gedde or Gabriel’s grandma. Their interactions feel fresh and help make you more engrossed in the story. And one of the reasons is the voice acting, the main draw is Tim Curry as Gabriel. But you also have Mark Hamill (Mosely), Leah Remini (Grace) or Michael Dorn to name just a few.
The game’s music is also amazing. Robert Holmes, Jensen‘s husband, composed what is one of my favourite soundtracks in a videogame. Actions speak louder than words so I’m putting a couple of themes from the game here so that you can listen to them. The main theme and the one you hear when you meet Wolfgang Ritter.
“Just tell me anything at all.”
The game spawned two sequels, The Beast Within and Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned and Jensen wrote novelisations of the first two games (and a couple of short stories too). The funny thing about these sequels is that they show the trends in adventure games at the time. While this first game was a 2D point and click, the second one was an interactive movie and the third one was made when adventure games were transitioning into 3D, sadly the third one would be Sierra’s last adventure game.
Both sequels have different but well-crafted stories. Beast Within deals with lycanthropy and Ludwig II of Bavaria and Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned deals with vampires, the Holy Grail and the mystery of Rennes-le-Château. But personally speaking my favourite game of the series is this one.
In 2014 Pinkerton Road, Jensen and Holmes‘ new studio, released a remake. And while I loved the remake as much as the original, writing about the original was more appropriate here. Another reason was to avoid self-plagiarism becase I reviewed it for a different website. If you’re curious about the remake, the review in question is here. Sadly, Pinkerton Road is on a hiatus at the moment (Holmes is doing music with his daughter and Jensen focused on her writing) but I just hope at some point we have a proper return for Gabriel Knight.
If I made you curious enough to play the game then this is the perfect moment. You can get it on the GOG sale for a pittance, in a bundle with the other games too. The only downside of the GOG version is that it’s missing the comic book that originally came with the game (the remake has it however) and it expands greatly on the backstory.
You can’t get a better moment than this. Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is a great game. It will remain with you for a long time after finishing it. You can trust me on that because I’m talking from experience.
Angry Spaniard, adoptive Irishman. Writer, reader, tea drinker and video game player/designer.