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Arfle barfle Gloop? A nerdy girl in a pixelated world

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Gabriel Knight: Sins of The Father's 20th Anniversary Edition (Pinkerton Road Studios)

Anyone who loved adventure games in the 90s will probably know the original Gabriel Knight series by Sierra, and I've yet to talk to anyone who didn't love the first in the series- "Sins of the Fathers" where we are introduced to Gabriel Knight, and his family history of the Schattenj√§gers (Shadow Hunters). [I'm not going to discuss the Schattenj√§gerhere for those who aren't familiar with the story line.] and discover what his own future holds...

I'm going to try really hard not to bring spoilers into this review because I think the game will be wonderful for old and new players alike.

Brief Storyline summary
Gabriel Knight is a fairly unsuccessful horror writer living in New Orleans. He runs his own, equally unsuccessful, rare book shop. As part of his research for a new book, he meets up with his life long friend Detective Moseley who gives him insider information on a case of voodoo murders, (in the hope of actually being in the book himself...) Having such close contact with the voodoo murders, Gabriel manageress to get himself caught up in the dark side of New Orleans and black voodoo, more than he even imagined possible, but something more than curiosity drives him to investigate this more than the police seem to be doing themselves...

1993 GK at the top, 2014 GK at the bottom

Oh, a note of the voodoo. I have a friend from the New Orleans area though she lives in England now, who practices voodoo. I've wanted to ask her how accurate the voodoo represented in game was, but didn't want to appear rude or ignorant, but what I understand from it, Jensen certainly did her research at the time. Of course the kind of Voodoo my friend practices is not the same as the black voodoo portrayed in game... I don't think. OR IS IT?? *DUN DUN DUUUUN*

Having adored the original game, as well as it's sequel (let's not discuss the third, I could never get past the clunky interface... it was very unnerving) I was waiting eagerly for this remake, excited to play it all over again. I have played my old copy more recently, but of all my retro games, it's proved to be one of the hardest to convince to run on a modern machine for one reason or another (though possible! I managed it eventually!) so to have a new version designed for a modern computer, I probably would have been excited if it looked exactly the same in all honesty- but this version just blew me away.

The remake has been made by Pinkerton Road Studios, and this is important to note, because it is a company that Jane Jensen, the original writer and director of the GK series, partially runs herself. This means the original feeling, and the essence of the game remained true, and Jensen had access to original work of the first game to use for this remake. In fact throughout the game, you can click a button to see comparisons to the 1993 version and see original sketches and storyboards. I loved this feature. I looked at most of it during the game, but thankfully, there is the option to read through the lot at the end too.

The colours and light effects are just beautiful
The changes in the newer version include fully updated graphics that are just beautiful. Right down to the light through the windows dancing through the dust in the air in the bookshop. It truly enhances the game play in my opinion, and is breath-takingly beautiful, but I am an artist, so I would say that.
They've redone the music, of course, but stayed true to the original score. The interface is improved and updated too. The original atmosphere and overall feel of the game remains true, which is something of an achievement. I know other remakes (no names mentioned here!) have been less successful in maintaining the atmosphere of their originals, but Jensen truly nailed it. In fact, the parts that made me jump and filled me with anxiety the first time, still did now *sings Feels Like the First Time by Foreigner* (sorry!) I won't tell you which bits, unless you ask, but by Glob they managed to freak me out all over again, even though I knew it was coming...

For the hardcore, die-hard GK fans, there are some new puzzles to surprise you. I have to say I was disappointed with those, as they were very easy in my opinion, but I was pleased that the effort has been made to keep it interesting for us and enhance the gameplay.

Voice acting.. Hmm. What to say? Well it's done well, there's no doubt about that, but I played the original with no speech and when I heard it redone with Tim Curry's voice, it NEVER made sense to me. I adore Tim Curry as an actor (especially in Rocky Horror) but I don't know, his voice never fitter Gabriel in my mind. Playing the new version, I thought it was Tim Curry in this one until the credits at the end! They did a really good version of Tim Curry's voice, but that voice will never be Gabriel to me. The acting was excellent, but it's just a silly thing in my mind, like when you read a book then see the movie and the character is NOT how they should be. Tim Curry is not Gabe in my mind- ever! Grace's voice is perfect, everyone else is, in fact. it's just Tim Curry is not Gabriel Knight... to me anyway.

Graphic novel cut-scenes

I nearly forgot to mention on of my favourite aspects, brought through from the first one- the 
Graphic Novel, and the cut scenes that follow that style. It's no secret that I'm a geek, and geeks like comic *cough* graphic novels... but the originals were gorgeous and emotionally evocative. I still have the one that came with the original in it's box, all nicely preserved in my loft... but I got to read it again in game! and there are cutscenes like these (I know, I'm showing nothing later in the game, that's on purpose ;) ) Look at the colours and mood. Ooh it makes the artist in me get so excited!!

Would I recommend this game? Well, that's probably obvious... yes. Yes I would recommend it to everyone who loved the Sierra adventures in their peak in the 90s, Yes I would recommend it to those who are new fans to the adventure genre, and finally, yes I would recommend it to those who've not played an adventure game, but love a compelling horror story, voodoo or New Orleans...  This game took me a day to complete, but that was a day of doing nothing but playing it.. In fact through the joy of Steam I can tell you I spent exactly 7 hours playing it *gulp*. My husband thinks it wasn't worth the money for it only taking me that long to play, but, I've played the original, remember, so the puzzles aren't new to me (mostly!) and I'm a high-speed, knuckle down and play solidly til it's done kind of adventure gamer. Despite that, I still think it's worth every penny, and I told my husband so! It was a beautiful thing to be immersed in to play, and has made me desperate to play more. I do hope Jane Jensen will be bringing us a GK 4 now... (and/or redoing the other GKs 2 and 3. I'd love to play GK3 but it HURTS to play!)

Now here's a photo of Jane Jensen looking pensive and in black and white. Because its's vital for all horror writes to have some of these...
Jane Jensen
<fan girl moment> Thanks for the wonderful game Jane- you shaped my life of gaming back with the original, and you still make my heart sing with your remake! </fan girl moment>

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I’m useless at these "About Me" things. I’m an artistic type with goffick leanings who sits on her arse all day due to chronic illnesses. I'm a mad cat lady and I'll try my hand at most crafts. That will do for this little box! :D
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