Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th
If you have read my
“first look” at the demo then you will know that what we have here
is an updated remake of a venerable old game from Jane Jensen, one of
the doyens of the genre. If you haven’t, now you know anyway.
For those not in the know, Jane
Jensen cut her teeth writing at Sierra Online, before co-designing Kings
Quest VI with Roberta Williams, co-founder of the Sierra brand, and
someone who inarguably helped create a genre. Sins of the Fathers was
Jensen’s first solo outing, and probably cemented her legacy more than
any other single factor. It also created one of the few characters who
might be able to rival Tex Murphy when it comes to male noir detective
types (albeit Gabe is a writer), and spawned two sequels, one perhaps
even better than the original.
If the thought of a remake
worries you, fear not. Ms Jensen was the driving force, and all the
reasons the original was so well received are present here. It is
virtually the same game, although some puzzles have been tweaked, or
re-ordered, and some new ones have been added. It has been polished, not
The polish is evident in the
look and the sound. It's big screen, lush and better for it. If there is
a criticism, it is that it is almost too lush, detracting a little from
the “darkness” of the events. It sounds good, having had the musical
score redone as well.
There is a bit of a balancing
act to be had with these types of makeovers. What was par for the course
twenty years ago in terms of design may not be quite so appealing to
current day players. Certainly you can simply play to the audience keen
to once again experience something they remember well, but that might
not be enough to get a new audience on board. Stray too far from the
original though and you jeopardise the whole thing.
The bits that have been added in
my view make it a more accessible game in terms of current design
elements. Which is kinda what I said in the first look:
All up, it seems far more user friendly game in the way that modern
games tend to be. Which doesn’t mean it will be easy, or that getting
maximum points will be a snap. Even having played several times, it
remains a tricky game, requiring careful and methodical exploration and
questioning, and a little bit of trying things with lots of other
things. It will take a good while to complete (and I mean a whole lot
longer than what passes for a lengthy game these days), some of it
frustrating as stuck happens, but none of it boring. Sins of the Fathers
was story and character driven 20 years ago, and remains so.
Having gotten to the end of Day
10, it remains an apt summary.
Each day begins with Gabriel
emerging from the apartment in the back of the St George's Bookstore as
Grace arrives to open the shop for the day. Reading the newspaper and
drinking a coffee is a staple start to most days, and warranted on most
occasions. Every little thing done right can contribute to the score
piling up in the top left corner, marked by a chime that effectively
says “good on you”. It will say it 362 times if you get the whole lot.
Each day ends when it is over,
and not before. For that to happen, you will need to have done all those
things that are necessary to trigger the start of the next day. Your
notebook will help with knowing what they are. It will also help with a
range of hints about how to achieve them. It may be your best friend, or
a friendly bystander, depending on how you want to go about things.
Or depending on how quickly you
There are certainly occasions
when I had no reason to do something other than I had to do something.
There are also occasions when I would not in my wildest imaginings have
tried something other than I had to try something. There are complicated
solves to conundrums that will test you in more ways than one.
Hints are all well and good, and
are welcome, but ideally the game should point me in the direction I
need to go, assuming I am paying attention and connecting the dots. That
isn’t always the case here, and never has been. It is the way it was and
so it still is.
You can also die, and there are
some timing puzzles which provide enough time once you have worked out
what to do, but which you may have to do a few times to work out. The
mime puzzle is still there.
What of the story?
We have murders in New Orleans,
voodoo, and nightmares. We have a family curse and an unavoidable
calling as a Shadow Hunter. We will travel to Germany and to Benin as we
dig deeper, and there will be initiations. There are lots of snakes, a
love interest, and some different endings that are worth playing.
Much of the detail and the depth
unfolds through extensive dialogue choices. You can choose to just use
the highlighted ones, but you would miss a lot if you did. It is likely
you will resort to the highlighted ones at some point, perhaps when you
have had enough of being told someone knows nothing about that, but you
will do the game a disservice if you make that your sole path through
I have never been to New Orleans
but it’s on the list. Istanbul was the first place I went based on a
game, and while this isn’t brought to life in the same way, it’s an
immersive experience nonetheless. Which is an achievement in itself,
given the animated style and the third person perspective. First person
always works better for me, but I was drawn into the events nonetheless.
You may or may not like Gabriel
at first, and certainly his way with women (and a few of the other male
characters) could do with a makeover, but he grows into the role that
fate has bestowed upon him, and becomes a better person through the
process. You probably will like Grace, but you will wonder what on earth
she is still doing there. The fact that she is there in the sequel is
testament to her resilience and her fortitude.
There are a myriad of other
characters that flit in and out of the story, but it really is all about
Cutscenes happen in graphic
novel style, and there is a graphic novel you can access at the main
menu, which provides a prequel to the events. It advises you to wait
until Day 6 before reading, but that’s up to you.
It’s a simple enough interface
with a plethora of things at your disposal. Bottom left is your
notebook, and a star icon which will take you to concept art and a range
of other special features, and which is also accessible through the
notebook. Bottom right is your inventory, which will always have an
available item selected, and your map. All can be made to drop out of
sight if you prefer. Clicking a hotspot will bring up the possible
action icons, as well as the capacity to use whichever inventory item
you have chosen to select. Within the inventory you can further examine
and combine items.
The space bar will highlight
hotspots, and there are a lot. Again, ignoring them will mean you miss
out on detail and depth, and so even if you identify a particular path
through a part of the game, take the time to smell the roses.
From the main menu you can
choose to play without hints, and you can turn the little tutorials off
that will help you with the interface when you first start. You can turn
the narrator off as well if she isn’t to your liking, but you will still
get the “narration” in a dialogue ribbon.
Sins of the Fathers isn’t
perfect but it never was. It is however well worth your attention,
whether you are looking to reminisce or play a classic for the first
I played on:
OS: Windows 7
Processor: Intel i7-3820 4GHz
RAM: 12GB Ripjaw DDR3 2133 Mhz
Video card: AMD
Radeon HD 7800 2048MB
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