Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers – 20th Anniversary Edition

I think it is a lot better than I hoped it would be aka they strengthened the core experience of the game while cutting some flavor where optional stuff is concerned.

I was worried before the game was released, because I read previous games (okay I guess there is only Moebius [and Cognition]) from Phoenix Online had (so far I didn’t have the pleasure to play it, so I don’t have any first-hand experience), for one, horrible wooden animations for all characters and the like and I really didn’t want that for Gabriel Knight, I rather would have had no remake. I wanted this remake to be the remake a classic (and personal all-time favorite of mine) like Gabriel Knight deserved.
It was later stated that they used MoCap for GK, but my fears were only put to rest when I started playing it. The animations are actually quite good. Characters can pick up all kinds of objects or even hand them to another character and it looks at least as good as it does in other current adventure games (think e.g. Broken Sword 5). Definitely nothing someone could complain about (okay, this is the Internet so I guess I only have to give it some time :D). I also never had this glitch, where Gabriel putting on his coat is a clipping nightmare (some tester demonstrated this before the game’s release), it works flawless on my PC, so I’m thinking they clearly improved the game since the preview builds.

Another possible letdown for me was, that I’m a huge fan of the original voice cast (I later learned there are people who actually hate Tim Curry’s work… WTH?), I thought it was mostly brilliant and hard to top and I also don’t like it when such things are changed. So I knew right away that different voices were another point that might be hard to swallow for me, but I survived that as well. It’s impossible to overhear how much they tried to get voices which would sound at least similar to the originals (and they do) and that just shows how much work was put into it. It’s professional, no doubt about it. One of the voices (“Desk Sergeant Frick”) is so close to the original cast, you could almost believe it’s the same guy.

I’m “only” on Day 7 (actually I’m done now but the comment remains true), so I haven’t seen everything yet, but so far they really nailed all the art. The locations are pretty and other than in the original, they are also animated now. Candles will produce smoke, stuff like that. It’s great. Places like the Voodoo Museum look so much better because of it. I especially like the way the bookstore looks now, which was a very good call, because this is probably the central location of the game the player will see more often. Some of the places have a more sterile, cold 2D rendered look (the cemetery) I don’t like that much, but even that is no big problem. It’s still okay and looks as detailed as those high res screens can.

Next on my list was, that the original had all these commands like look, open/close, move, use… and lots of them didn’t work most of the time of course, BUT they still prompted Gabriel or the narrator to state funny/unique things. With the “easier” interfaces all new adventure games have, I thought they might remove those parts that really added flavor to the game, most others of this type have always lacked. To my delight they didn’t, most of these lines are still in. In these cases there are most of these extra options shown that don’t really make sense, but were solely kept to not remove the funny lines.

A new feature I like a lot, is that you can now access interviews, concept art […] for pretty much every location. Also for both the original and the remake. Honestly, they could have added a lot more commentary than they did. There is a 2 part voice interview with Jane Jensen and I would have liked commentary for each screen and maybe even from other people who worked on the project. They should have tried harder to include anyone who had anything interesting to say about this game. Both original and remake. But that is only a very minor regret for me and absolutely irrelevant for everyone who doesn’t listen to such commentaries anyway.
For some reason though, the bonus content isn’t sorted and shown elements often have no connection with the room the player is in, it can be completely random, what is available. There’s also no possibility to zoom or scroll, which sometimes produces smaller problems.

There are some minor changes to some puzzles and I ended up liking them all, so far every change I noticed made the game better, they really thought about that stuff and it’s now even more palpable. For example there’s this scene with the priest’s collar and in the remake there’s actually a nice little puzzle involved in getting it, instead of just taking it from an otherwise empty room, which was how the original handled it. Another good example for an improved scene is how they gave the player now a reason to visit the tomb of Gabriel’s family. In the original the player could just skip this part altogether, when he is supposed to face this. It feels like it already should have been this way in the original. The changes have been made in very good taste (excluding some of the new fullscreen puzzles, not so sure about those).

So all in all, pretty much nothing I feared might suck in this remake actually does. It’s overall a lot better than I thought it would be and I’m very happy playing it. It’s so good that I’m not sure I will fire up the original again, whenever I want to replay Gabriel Knight.

I don’t think anyone is going to have a problem with this game, unless they are so in love with the original voice work, that they absolutely can’t accept other (similar sounding) voices even though the rest of the game is good.

Oh, the Gabriel Knight comic is now a part of the game too and can be read directly from the main menu. Such elements should be merged.

[1] “My honest first thought as a fan of the series was, “oh man, they couldn’t get Tim Curry,”” Victor said. “ newjerseyhills.com

[2] First patch is out http://www.postudios.com/blog/forum/index.php?topic=14170.0

[3] Gabriel no longer hugs his grandmother when he visits her. http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/10/15/wot-i-think-gabriel-knight-20th-anniversary/

[4] We ended up raising, I think it was around $435,000, after everybody takes their cut, we had about $390,000. http://www.joystiq.com/2014/10/22/gabriel-knight-and-starvation-wages-at-pinkerton-road/

[5] Classic adventure game hero Gabriel Knight returns for remake http://boingboing.net/2014/10/25/classic-adventure-game-hero-ga.html

[6] Remaking Gabriel Knight: A 20th-anniversary postmortem

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