Written by  :  *Katakis* (38192)
Written on  :  Oct 17, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
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Not only supernatural, but also educational

The Good

In 1993, Sierra introduced a new character into the adventure gaming world. Called Gabriel Knight, he owns a bookshop in New Orleans and had a terrible family history. As he investigates a series of ritualistic Voodoo murders, he has nightmares every night about what he has discovered in each of the ten days he spends investigating them. Later, his uncle from Germany tells Gabriel that he must meet the role of Schattenjäger (shadow hunter) and get back a talisman that was used to rip the line of Schattenjägers apart.

In order to get through the ten days, Gabriel must do tasks such as attending crime scenes; researching things relevant to Voodoo, such as rada drums and vévés; and finding out peoples addresses. Helping him out with his research is his lovely secretary, Grace. She can also get him messages whenever he wants to. He also has to collect snake scales and draw vévés in his sketchbook. Helping out with the Voodoo Murders case is his friend at the police station, Detective Mosely.

Some of the tasks that Gabriel does are exciting. For example, he gets to attend an interview between Mosely and his suspects, write some voodoo code and play on the rada drums to send a message to the Voodoo people, and attend an actual conclave down at the swamp.

Sierra did a good job at designing their interface for Gabriel Knight. The interface is very specific to what you want to do. For example, as well as the WALK, PICK UP, TALK, and LOOK icons, you have the OPERATE and MOVE icons. The OPERATE icon is used when you want to turn on/off a switch for example, the MOVE icon is used when you want to push and pull objects. Another icon has also been added. Called the ASK icon, this lets you interrogate characters in the game. You can ask them about topics such as Voodoo, Voodoo Murders, New Orleans, and themselves. The number of topics available builds up when Gabriel discovers more important information.

Gabriel gets around using his motorcycle and you can tell him where to go just by clicking icons on the world map. Instead of clickable dots that represents a location, icons are used instead. For example, the Dixieland Drug Store has an icon that looks like a voodoo doll. A mask represents the Historical Voodoo Museum, and a police badge is used to represent the police station. The map is divided into two sections: French Quarter and Greater New Orleans. Most of the locations are found in the French Quarter, while later locations are found in Greater New Orleans.

I have to say that this game is very educational from Day 2 onwards. On the second day, you have to ask the owner of the Voodoo Museum, Dr. John, about voodoo, and he will just crap on about both historical and current voodoo. The next day you have to attend a lecture at Tulane University about African religion that focus on more technical terms as Voodoo Hounfour and Voodoun.

If you’re far into the game and forget about it, don’t worry. Grace gives you a tape recorder at the beginning of your investigation. Gabriel uses it to record every conversation with every character he meets. You can access it from the game’s interface, and from there, just click on the tape that stores each character’s conversation. Then using the buttons on the right, you can rewind it, fast-forward through it, or stop, just like any old tape recorder.

Sierra has incorporated very good actors into the game. These include, but not limited to, Tim Curry, who is the voice of Gabriel, Mark Hamill as the voice of Detective Mosely (you remember him from Star Wars), Leah Remini as Grace, Michael Dorn as Dr. John, and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. as Wolfgang. These actors did a very good job playing their characters, especially Tim Curry who takes the mickey out of Gabriel throughout the game, Sierra was so impressed with Tim, that they asked him again to play Gabriel in Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned.

GK is available on either floppy disks or on CD-ROM. The CD-ROM version is twice as good as the floppy version. First, it features both MS-DOS and Windows version, and excellent WAV files that give ambient sound effects to the game. The Audio used in the main menu, introduction, and credits is awesome. When you install the Windows version, you get to see The Making of Gabriel Knight, as well as some cut-scenes you’ll get to see throughout the game.

GK also has a graphic novel detailing the life of Gunter Ritter as he investigates a murder 300 years ago, and brings the perpetrator to justice. It is suggested that you read the novel so you get a good idea what the game is about.

The Bad

Nothing. Bug-free and quite a joy to play.

The Bottom Line

If you’re playing this game and you’re up to Day 6, a driver selling beignets comes to the police station and the desk sergeant goes out to get one and he doesn’t go back inside until a minute later. During that time, you’re supposed to find your way inside Mosely’s office. On a fast computer, the desk sergeant actually comes back in a jiffy and you don’t have the chance to do what you need to do.

If you fail this, the desk sergeant will nod off and sleeps. But on a fast computer, he will start to nod off, think “I have to get on with writing these papers, not fall asleep” and that’s exactly what he does. You will have no choice but to either use Moslo or disable the L2 cache in your BIOS if you’re playing the MS-DOS version, or use a slowdown program if you’ve got the CD-ROM version and are running the game in Windows. I tried using Windows while the L2 cache was disabled, but it behaved like a dinosaur resulting in my computer locking up. Certainly no problem with slower computers.

Regardless of this complaint, you’ll enjoy this game, as the game is longer than other Sierra games, resulting in more stuff to do. GK is discontinued, but it’s still available as part of The Gabriel Knight Mysteries, which can be ordered directly from Sierra. *****