Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition (PC) Review

By Robert Blowes 15.10.2014

Review for Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition on PC

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is a point-and-click adventure game that was released on the PC back in 1993 under Sierra Entertainment. One of the most notorious publishers for point-and-click games, the original was extremely well received when it first came out. Fast forward to 2014 and the "20th Anniversary Edition" promises a remastered, rerelease that includes updated HD graphics, new puzzles to test the grey matter, additional scenes for the story, and a soundtrack that has been revisited and updated by the original composer Robert Holmes. All for the enjoyment of both old fans and the next generation!

For point-and-click games to be successful they rely on several core principles. Witty dialogue, a strong plot, puzzles that test the grey matter that doesn't verge too close towards being a 'guide-dang-it' moment. That's just the nature of the beast, because the gameplay elements within point-and-click games tend to be limited by its very nature. It is particularly why the genre fell away somewhat after the late 90s boom of several successful games, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers amongst them.

As far as the remastered version of the game goes, the basic plot remains essentially the same, right down to the dialogue. Levels and puzzles, however, have been moved around. This isn't a straight up carbon copy given a facelift; level designs have been changed, cut or modified. The places in the storyline have also been switched around somewhat. One such example is: in the original it was possible to visit Grandma Knight's house on the first day, but now it's been pushed over to day four. This adds some variety for returning fans of the original.

The plot of Gabriel Knight starts off simply enough; the introduction cut-scene is matched with good music, and the game introduces comic book-style cut-scenes complete with panel slides and voiced speech bubbles to maintain the pace and offer something completely different from the main style of the game itself.

Gabriel, the womanising novel writer and book store owner, is investigating the case of the Voodoo Murders, of which six have occurred by the start of the game, and the seventh will occur on the first day. The game is episodic in the sense that things are separated into days. Each day new events happen and Gabriel pushes forward with the investigation up to a total of ten days. He is troubled by repeated nightmares of witch burning, leopards, snakes and death by hanging, and sets off to investigate with the help of his able employee Grace. The banter between the two is amusing, if sometimes a bit clichéd and a bit too try-hard. Perhaps this is to be expected with the transition from the 90s to 2014, as what was edgy and funny back then can come off as corny these days.

Screenshot for Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition on PC

The plot's heavy focus on the history and mysteries of Voodoo is well-researched and the supernatural elements implemented add to the richness of the game. The storyline builds up a touch slow, attempting to ease the player in, but it suffers from two sticking points.

Firstly, the "love story that is at the heart of the plot," according to Jane Jenson, the writer, is about as well conceived as a slap dash teenage trash romance novel. Love-at-first-sight stories are nice when done well; this one, however, doesn't impart a genuine feeling of it actually 'sparking.' It develops from the protagonist's womanising ways and solidifies with desperate declarations in a cemetery, no less - hardly the most romantic of places - and while the voodoo elements are entwined in the mystery that Gabriel is unravelling, and the historical significance of the love plot in the past makes sense, the one presented here is seriously lacking. It's more of an infatuation between two, perhaps, fate-crossed lovers, but it isn't really that plausible at all.

Secondly, it does feel like it could do with more drama, exposition and relationship building, for those sections of the game are few and far between. The intensity in the later stages of the game, involving possession, in particular, at a police station really kicks things off, and there's no shortage of gore, horror and nervy supernatural elements. At the same time, the story, though dark, seems to hamstring itself in its identify. Is this a mature storyline? It certainly feels like one. It could definitely be darker, but there are elements that detract from it, however minor they may feel. For example, there is a surprising lack of swearing - only one or two occasions result in swear words and it doesn't really sound right to hear certain characters constantly use the words 'freaking' or 'fraking.' Either go the full mile or don't bother.

Adding to the mature story is the flawed characters; a breath of fresh air from the usual 'golden heroes,' each and every one of them has their own sticking point in a good way. Gabriel Knight himself is no angel and it is questionable as to whether he is a likeable protagonist. He is supported by Detective Mosely, a cop, in over his head and with seemingly not too many detective skills to his name. There's the lovely Grace, who would never admit to her possessiveness, and the mysterious high flying socialite Malia Gedde alongside the menacing Doctor John. Each of them adds layers to the story and the history of the supernatural events Gabriel is investigating.

Screenshot for Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition on PC

The graphical updates of the game are good. As a remastered version it does the job quite well; everything is easily identifiable, and the models are smooth and easy on the eye. When the graphics are contrasted with the original release (which is easy enough to do thanks to a handy 'star' button that the developers have included, albeit only for the Special Edition that displays, among other things, art sketches and the original graphics), then it must be said that the differences are astounding. This is naturally to be expected, though, having gone from what appears to be sprite-style old-fashioned graphics towards a more modern reimagining. The interface itself has gotten an overhaul, and several of the levels have been switched around and crafted to bring everything to life in the modern age.

There are some issues with character models clipping through the environment, though this has been promised to be fixed by release. There is one major problem with the graphics that becomes apparent when attempting to skip conversation options or speed through them. Doing this causes the background to accelerate and 'warp,' and if any attempt to skip or fast forward through scenes taking place on the actual level, then character models will teleport all over the place.

Other issues with the graphics include the rather strange walking animations at times; if a character has to shift sideways or turn as they walk they do so in a normal walking manner, but with 'crossed-legs' causing their legs to phase through each other, which looks quite bizarre. There are also some very minor graphical errors, such as misbehaving doorknobs being placed incorrectly.

Conversation options, when selected, will bring up two facial windows with the participants and options boxes displayed directly in the middle. The topic of discussion is simply clicked and the conversation listened to, and conveniently, plot critical conversation topics are coloured in yellow. The character portraits have a lack of lip-synching and a rather basic set of facial expressions; more effort could have gone into this area of the game.

However, the art style is lovely to look at; some real effort has gone into display the environments in their modern glory. Some of the areas have been expanded, some redesigned in full, others touched up and modified. There are plenty of new things to see here for older visitors to the game.

Screenshot for Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition on PC

A few extra additions have been included to improve accessibility. Pressing the space bar now highlights every interactive object available on the screen, handy for searching for specific items or areas that might be overlooked. This addition nullifies one of the more frustrating points of the genre, which is having to pixel hunt for specific interactive objects, so it is very welcome.

Alongside this, Gabriel has a journal option, which details his thoughts about where to go, what to do and other miscellaneous information. Within the journal are tabs to the aforementioned star button. It also has a hint section, which is time-locked by several seconds, so it's not possible to spam all the hints immediately. Furthermore, the hints are each categorised into sections; a general section regarding the level, followed up with specific sections that give hints as to how to find a specific item, or how to get past a tricky area, though clicking on the level hints will outright present users with the next best thing to a walkthrough.

Gabriel also has an inventory, where he can mix and match items, or examine them closely for clues, as is standard fare with point-and-click games. There are some rare bugs here, however; key inventory items sometimes get eaten away by a black hole and never appear again, forcing a reload. This only happened twice in the early stages, and there seems to be no way to rectify it short of having multiple saves available to go back to.

Overall, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition is a good, solid remake of an older version, offering a facelift to the dated visuals and a new way of telling the old story. It is a good game that does everything by the numbers, but the love angle drags what is a rather respectable plot down, and the voice acting can be rather hit and miss. Nevertheless, this is well worth trying out; bearing in mind it is the 'first' of the Gabriel Knight series.

Screenshot for Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition does point-and-click and it does it well. It is a good, solid remaster of a classic, original game. Some plot elements are certainly dated, the dialogue can be corny, and love-at-first-sight musings are particular offenders, so much so that they almost bring down what is quite an interesting premise. That all said, the updated graphics, the redone music and the interesting plot shows a remastering that is filled with love and some very good touches. This is almost a director's cut of the game; it is just a shame that the voice acting and some of the dated elements let it down so much.


Pinkerton Road Studio


Phoenix Online Publishing





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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