Written by  :  _Oracle (24)
Written on  :  Sep 27, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
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Flawless. Simply flawless.

The Good

What's not to like about this game?

The graphics are beautiful and rich. I really liked the close-ups when you're interviewing people, and the in-game graphics are nicely done. Also, there are several comic-like cutscenes scattered throughout the game, which in my opinion add a lot.
The sounds are breathtaking. Music-wise, I've never heard MIDI sound this good, and it fits the story and world perfectly, contributing a great deal to the general atmosphere of the game, which can give you actual goosebumps. The voice acting is superb, and is my favorite to this day. Tim Curry (as Gabriel Knight) delivers a stellar performance, mixing just the right amount of sarcasm and cynicism in the everyday events in the game, but manages to convey a real sense of warmth, urgency or despair when they are called for. This is not to detract from the phenomenal voice acting of the other characters: Leah Remini (as Grace) is probably my favorite game character other than Gabriel himself, and Michael Dorn (as Dr. John) has the perfect voice for the role. Honestly, each and every actor does the job brilliantly.
The game's interface is Sierra's known point-and-click with icons, but the icons have changed slightly, to make your interaction with the world even richer. For example, there are two separate icons for general chatting and for asking specific questions. Or different icons for pick up, move, and open.
The puzzles are interesting and original, and more importantly fit surprisingly well into the plot, instead of being mix-and-match-items puzzles or the give-this-to-this-guy puzzles. They are there to advance the plot, not just to tease your brain.

And finally, we have the story.

Ah - the story.

Gabriel Knight has the best writing in a computer game ever, bar none. Once the plot grabs you by the throat (should happen by the beginning of day 4 or so), it simply does not let go of you, and you will not be able to let go of the game, until it's over.
What makes it so good? First of all the big story is a solid, interesting, suspenseful story. It's got twists and turns, and it even manages to surprise you several times. But more than that, Jane Jensen got everything done just right. The dialogs are crisp and brilliantly written, with quite a bit of humor mixed in, giving the voice actors real meaty roles to work with.
What's most contributing, at least for me, is the amount of backdrop the player receives. As early as Day 2, you'll find yourself learning a great deal about Voodoo, most (if not all) of which is absolutely correct. You'll even get to hear a lecture about Voodoo, detailing its rituals and customs further in the game. Most of what is said about New Orleans is true as well. Visiting it just a month ago, I actually knew my way around. The game world is so rich, diverse, and detailed, that you feel as though you really know the world and the characters and actually care about them.

Yes. That about describes the game. Perfect in every respect.

The Bad

I'm hard pressed to think of anything seriously wrong with the game.
I did encounter several places where the voiceover was "clicky" or slightly buggy, and some of the puzzles might be a bit annoying (the one with the police officer in the park on day 1, or the arcade-like sequence in the catacombs). But these in no way tarnish the great experience that is GK.

The Bottom Line

I'll use my one-line summary again: Flawless. Simply flawless. Everything, from music to voices to dialogs to story to every other aspect, comes together here.
10 years and countless games after first playing Gabriel Knight, it's still the best game ever from where I'm sitting. An ever-shining gem.