Written by  :  Stijn Daneels (85)
Written on  :  Apr 23, 2015
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

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You got what it takes to become a Schattenjäger?

The Good

Gabriel Knight - Sins of the Fathers is a game I knew little about until I bought it on GOG.com along with its two sequels. I also saw Pushinguproses' episode dedicated to the game and after watching her review I was very excited to play the game. Not only did I enjoy it, but Gabriel Knight also revitalized my appetite for adventure games!

In Gabriel Knight - Sins of the Fathers, you play as the titular character, an ambitious but not very successful novelist who lives in New Orleans and owns a book store (that virtually nobody actually visits). Suffering from writer's block, Gabriel decides to help his best friend and police detective Mosely solve a string of murders in which the murder victims were apparently used in Voodoo inspired sacrificial rituals. As our hero investigates the case, he discovers that his German ancestors have quite some involvement in the events happening in New Orleans. He also encounters Malia Gedde, a beautiful woman who gets romantically involved with Gabriel but who keeps a very dark secret away from him.

The game's story is told through the course of ten days and will take Gabriel to various real-life New Orleans locations such as Jackson Square, the Tulane University and the Bayou St. John. He will also visit a castle in Germany and mummy-infested catacombs in Africa. For every day, you have a certain set of puzzles to solve, information to discover and items to find before you can move on to the next day.

The game itself plays like a traditional 90s Sierra point-and-click adventure. So you click all over the screen in order to move Gabriel around, let him interact with objects or people or examine his surroundings. The game also has a score system (a stable feature in Sierra adventure games). You won't get the full score if you only do the actions necessary to complete the game. This adds some nice replay value and encourages you to explore and experiment. When you talk to people, you have access to a huge variety of subjects to talk about, you can ask them important questions in order to progress the story or just have some small-talk with them. It adds great depth to the conversations and helps fleshing out the characters you meet.

Two of the game's best aspects are its story and characters. The story may be a bit unoriginal, but it's told in such a way that it keeps you interested until the very end. Like Gabriel himself, you will slowly but surely discover the truth behind the murders, Gabriel's family and what the word Schattenjäger means. As you play through the game you will also get some nice educational information about New Orleans and Voodoo culture (the real one and not what you saw in the second Indiana Jones movie).

When it comes to the characters in the game, you can expect quite a variety of personalities, both friendly and hostile. Aside from the characters I mentioned before, there's Gabriel's sexy and intelligent personal assistant Grace (who remains professional and level-headed despite Gabriel's macho humor). You will also meet the intimidating and shady Voodoo museum owner Dr. John and Gabriel's relative Wolfgang, who plays a key role later in the game.

Voice acting and music is nothing short of amazing. The game has some very talented actors voicing its characters. For example, Gabriel Knight is voiced by Tim Curry, detective Mosely has Mark Hamill's vocal chords provided to him and Michael Dorn gives life to Dr. John. Virtually all actors did a splendid job at bringing their characters to life and make them very memorable. Gabriel Knight in particular steals the show. He's a flawed and relatable regular Joe, he sometimes lets his impulses get the better off him but his incorruptible sense of justice and fearless daredevil attitude make him really stand out from the crowd.

The music, composed by Robert Holmes, has plenty of variety and always fits perfectly in the situations you encounter in the game. The musical score ranges from joyful fanfare music and blues rock to downright threatening African drumming. It all adds to the game's compelling and sometimes very scary atmosphere. You cannot help but feel that the villains are watching you every move and that they could just kill you when they want to. In particular the moments taking place in the African catacombs really unsettled me. It features the dark and brooding drumming I already mentioned, and seeing all those seemingly dead mummies really made me wonder what will happen next!

The Bad

There are a few moments at the game's final day wherein you may risk getting into an unwinnable situation. I'm not sure whether there are similar situations at earlier days of the game, therefore I highly recommend you to use at least two saves and use one of them to save your game at the beginning of each day.

The game's narrator gets on my nerves from time to time. I believe the developers wanted her to be a Voodoo witch or fortuneteller but she really oversells her role in my opinion. She speaks very slowly and with way too much drama. Fortunately, you can turn her voice off in the game's options.

Just as a little warning, Gabriel Knight is pretty gory at times. The game doesn't shy away from showing you lying on the floor with a zombie on top of you, ripping out your heart and eating it as an afternoon snack! So avoid this game if you're squeamish about blood and guts.

The Bottom Line

Gabriel Knight - Sins of the Fathers is considered among many to be one of the all time greatest games in the adventure genre and I completely agree with that. Like a great crime novel, you really get engaged into the story and want to play on until the very end. This combined with the game's memorable cast of characters, awesome soundtrack and voice acting makes the game a thrilling rollercoaster ride! Now it's your turn to play, Schattenjäger!