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The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery (Windows)

90
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Joakim Kihlman (270)
Written on  :  Apr 20, 2008
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  1.2 Stars1.2 Stars1.2 Stars1.2 Stars1.2 Stars

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Summary

A victim of the dreaded FMV-death

The Good

Gabriel Knight 2 was, for a long time, a holy grail for me. It was that game I never did seem to get my hands on, but always wanted to play, since I loved the first game so much. I even played part three before I played this game. I love the first game, and I like the third, despite its flaws, but would I enjoy this, the series FMV de-tour?

First of all, there is a good story here, buried beneath layers of horrible graphics, disturbingly disgusting design and useless actors. If you're less picky about those things than I am, you might enjoy this.

The music is also pretty good, although a bit over the top at times. The special effects are, although just as bad as in Phantasmagoria, quite amusing to look at (but never ever scary).

The Bad

This really should not have been an FMV-game. The video-sequences are horrible. They might have been fun to look at at the time the game was released. At that time the so called multimedia products flooded the markets. Useless cd-roms full of pixely and crappy videos and bad 3d-graphics. This development was soon revealed to produce hollow and quite crappy products and they soon started to dissapear.

The same goes for FMV-games. They were expensive to produce, sure, but the main reason they stopped making them was that they all sucked, and the audience soon discovered that, just as soon as the initial curiosity was settled.

Gabriel Knight 2 was just produced in the worst of times, and hence, a good game was fundamentally ruined. Just one look at Gabriel Knights butt-ugly shirt and you want to vomit. When he walks around, taking his time doing the simplest thing, because everything has to trigger horrible FMV-sequences of Gabriel opening doors, turning around, walking, etc. It's unbearable.

The absolute worst part, however, is the environments. The illusion that Gabriel is walking around in an actual, living world, is painfully absent. Instead, Gabriel floats around on pixely, badly rendered backgrounds that are so ill designed it looks like some three year old's doll house gone horribly wrong.

You might think I'm superficial to concentrate so much on things like graphics and presentation. Well, my friend, sometimes, the surface contains the biggest depths. Sometimes the look of something is what tells the story, or conveys the message. It's called supersurface, and Gabriel Knight 2 lacks every bit of it. All that's left are promises of what could have been.

The Bottom Line

A great game ruined by its choice of form. FMV-games never was, and will never be, anything but garbage. It's a disgrace.