Review: ‘Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition’ (Android)0 Comments
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition, Released: July 23, 2015, Reviewed on: Android, Also available on: iOS, PC, Mac, Genre(s): Adventure, Developer: Pinkerton Road Studios, Publisher: Phoenix Online Studios
It’s rare for an adventure game to reach a decade or two in age and be loved enough to earn a commemorative edition, but it happens. Grim Fandango was shy of 20 when Double Fine Productions remastered the LucasArts game for modern devices, and Gabriel Knight is another lucky classic. The first entry in the series, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, came to PC and Mac last year as a special 20th Anniversary Edition, and now it’s available for iOS and Android.
Time has treated Gabriel Knight well. As wary as I can be of adventure games that intimidate players with an overstuffed inventory and puzzles that miss a step in logic, I adore one that can charm me even at its worst. Because even the best adventure games have that one thing you’d rather not talk about. Gabriel Knight is amazing all the way through. Just don't get me started on the mummies.
Gabriel Knight’s 20th Anniversary Edition looks very different than the original game did in 1993, when it released as a Sierra On-Line game from designer Jane Jensen. If you had no idea how old it was, you’d swear you were playing something totally new. The puzzles don’t give away that secret, either. They make sense even by contemporary standards, in a time when gamers' tolerance for frustrating and ill-conceived puzzles is low. We expect a better quality, and Gabriel Knight still delivers on this today.
Sins of the Fathers introduces us to Gabriel Knight, a bookshop owner from New Orleans who flirts with more women than he sells rare literature. His assistant, Grace, is the only one thick-skinned enough to put up with his constant sexual jokes and irresponsibility. Since they get such few customers, she spends most of her time saving him from close scrapes and doing odd research for him.
Gabriel is also an author, though not a very good one. His current obsession is with the strange series of voodoo murders happening around New Orleans, and he chats up his friend Detective Mosely at the police station to get insider information for his latest book. As Gabriel investigates the crimes, he finds himself asking too many of the right questions—and gets himself a little too involved with the case. His curiosity and the surreal nightmares he suffers each night lead him to discover that what the police think is fake voodoo is the real deal, and his own family history has something to do with it.
Sins of the Fathers unfolds over 10 in-game days and took me about 15 hours to complete. I love a good mystery in my adventure games, but the best part of this one is its characters—namely, its protagonist. As much as Gabriel would probably be slapped with restraining orders and sexual harassment lawsuits today, I found his character endearing. He’s funny, and while not the brightest person around, Gabriel has a knack for unraveling a case and looking good doing it. The visual upgrade and his smooth Louisiana accent help to create, as Jensen put it, a “sexier Gabe.”
This is a guy who impersonates an Irish priest to get information from a little old Catholic lady, yet sweet talks his Gran because he loves her dearly. He rides a motorcycle around town and wears a leather jacket that he couldn’t afford when he bought it, but he feels comfortable around musty old books. You love him for his passion, chuckle every time he makes a (rather good) lewd joke, and sigh whenever he falls for a woman so wrong for him that you can sense the heartbreak before the first kiss.
This is an adventure game worth playing 20 years later, hands-down. It’s a chatty game, for sure, but most of the heavy dialogue happens when you're investigating characters. If you’d rather advance the conversation and move on, you can do that since the dialogue options you need to make are highlighted in yellow. The rest is just for your own enjoyment. I liked learning as much as I could about voodoo and the characters themselves, so I pushed the dialogue to completion. Eventually, I got tired of hearing Gabriel ask routine questions the same way (sometimes you can press a topic three or four times), but I wasn’t bothered enough to stop. Some players might be, so feel free to skip the extra dialogue.
Gabriel's journal -- as well as the many conversations -- provide sufficient clues to solve the game's puzzles. You usually only have a limited number of items that you can try for a given situation, but as you near the conclusion, you do hoard quite a few that never disappear from your inventory. This can make solving puzzles more complicated than it needs to be. I had some real trouble in Day 6 with figuring out what I was supposed to do next, but otherwise a good brainstorm was enough to determine the solution. The built-in hint system is there if you're desperate. Sometimes it could benefit from being more detailed, but most of the time it answered the questions I wanted to ask adequately enough for me to progress.
I did experience a little glitchiness on both iOS and Android, though I mainly played on the latter. In both versions, Gabriel would sometimes glide more than walk, or he'd flail his legs in really awkward ways. That was about it, aside from a couple buggy but unimportant hotspots. You can hold an on-screen button to reveal all hotspots (areas in the environment that you can interact with) so that you can find everything, which helps a lot. Normally, you might not tap just the right spot to investigate certain parts your surroundings, which may mean you'll miss some key objects. Thanks to this feature, that shouldn't be a problem.
The only time mobile proves to be the wrong platform for Gabriel Knight? In one of the later days, when I had to flee from certain magical enemies. Glitch city.
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is one of those classic adventure games that I’ve been meaning to play for a long time. Now I’m glad I finally did. The 20th Anniversary Edition is so well done, it makes me wish developer Pinkerton Road Studios would get around to remastering the rest of the series.