One of Seirra's Best.
While everyone else was off playing Lucas Art's adventure games as a child, most of the ones I ended up playing through were not as well known. I have no idea why I never played through any of the Monkey Island or Maniac Mansion games. Perhaps it was because I was never introduced to them. I instead spent my time with lesser known titles like Future Wars, Vengance of Excalibur, and the even more obscure James Bond: The Stealth Affair. While the Gabriel Knight series is certainly more well known than any of those titles (it even garnered two sequels) I hardly ever hear anyone talking about it when it comes down to discussing classic adventure games. The game however made a huge impression on me as a child, and I was crushed when I tried to reinstall it last summer with my old CDs only to find that it was almost impossible to get running on any modern day PC.
So when I saw that Good Old Games had a patched version on sale for $5.99 I jumped at the opportunity to play it, and I am happy that I was given the chance to go back and finally finish this classic Sierra gem.
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is a Point and Click adventure game that centers around a struggling author trying to write a new novel about an outbreak of grisly Voodoo murders that have been occurring in New Orleans. The protagonist, Gabriel Knight, is controlled entirely by commanding him to manipulate the environment and characters around him with your mouse. The plot quickly develops into an intriguing mystery. Since it's a mystery and not an action packed adventure, gameplay and clues are more focused around conversations with other characters than in most other point and click adventure games.
Luckily, these conversations are a pleasure to sit through. The dialogue is excellent. Performances from an all star cast (Tim Curry, Mark Hamill, Leah Remini, and Michael Dorn) shine through and some of the one liners break the 4th wall in incredibly entertaining ways. You'll feel a real sense of accomplishment as you piece together the stories these characters tell you while filling in the blanks as you progress through the story. The gameplay is not perfect however. Around the last third of the game, when the pieces have been put together, these entertaining conversations essentially disappear in favor of the more classic (and in my opinion- less enjoyable) tropes of Point and Click Adventure gaming. Expect to hunt through every last pixel while randomly trying out every item on every other item. I also feel that one puzzle in particular asked the player to make far too great a leap in logic to progress the story. So if you plan on playing through and get stuck, don't hesitate to search out a spoiler free FAQ online.
The presentation really stands out. The environments are fully realized and New Orleans is represented in such a way that the city itself feels like character- sometimes bright and friendly, other times dark and menacing. As stated before the voice acting is top notch. Tim Curry voices Gabriel's sleek sexual persona with charming wit but falters hilariously bad in the more dramatic scenes. Those with a keen ear will even catch a moment of Gabriel talking to another character also voiced by Tim Curry.
The in depth, highly engrossing and sometimes legitimately spooky story is what will drive you to finish this game. If you are a fan of classic point and click adventure games and let this one slip by, I highly recommend you give it a play through if you can handle the trappings that come with the genre's territory.