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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  :  MAT (66286)
Written on  :  Jul 11, 2000
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars4.33 Stars

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Summary

Is it possible for something to be above the best!? Yup, I guess it is :)

The Good

Good and evil. Light and darkness. Have you all noticed how always good is on the first place, how always light is before the dark. You won't hear someone saying evil and good, or darkness and light, right? Hah, as if that's gonna help anyway. This time, Sierra went far beyond just the basic facts. Completely mind boggling adventure with a live cast of characters (we could call it actors as well) will unravel us the story that deserves to be among top adventures no matter the time.

This time, a gate to elaboration is closed, and you can only have pieces of imagination to keep up with. The speculations can seem limitless, but the answer is only one. Good and evil, past and presence, time and existence, are all heavily extended to the very detailed end. I guess blood and violence are fairly weak weapons comparing to a good story and unexpected acts. As much as you probably saw many movies during your past time, you are hardly to guess the outcome of almost anything (except your dirty li'l tricks you do on purpose).

Don't dare to confuze this game for 'Phantasmagoria' series. As much as it is from Sierra, and the actual gameplay is fairly simmilar to both games, 'Phantasmagoria' is very large piece of crap. This, on the contrary, is very good, rather amazing adventure that don't base its roots and qualities on horror scenes and effects, but on the story itself, and lovely characters. Even The Black Wolf (Von Glover), who wanted you to join him, is rather nice person, when he could be called a person, of course. No matter, all the cast are set in place they couldn't be set better.

Ahh, playing 'Phantasmagoria' long gone now, I learned I should be prepared for my heart to stop ticking any minute as I played the game. For some reson, I was alwayse tensed playing this game, but when something's good, then it's darn good. What scary scenes, what rushing sounds or camera spin-offs? This won't do you any harm, but keep you at distance from totaly loosin' up. No matter these were all life-taken pictures, I couldn't notice some things, like white rug on the pale grey floor, so I had to do cursor-changing trick for some things.

Let us take a few shots upon the game itself...

The whole game is from third-person perspective, much to as the movie scenes, except at one point. After Wagner's opera, when you turn into the wolf itself, you walk using first-person perspective, and your sniffing abilities. Your menus and items you carry are suited at the bottom, the game itself, along with the movies is in the middle, and at the top, you see where you are, and over which artifact your mouse curzor is (if any).

Gabriel Knight: you play with two characters during the game. Mostly, each chapter one, except in the last chapter when you play with both characters. As the story of this sequel swiftly fading away, you, as Gabriel Knight, a voodoo maniac from The Sins of the Fathers somehow inherited a castle Ritter (Schloss Ritter). During the last year, you were busy writing a book called 'Voodoo Murders' or something like that, and it appeared to be a great hit, hitting the shelves in USA and going straight among top #20 bestselling books. Since your last name is Knight, which on german stands for Ritter, it's no doubt you have a deep roots in here. Your family (at least your uncle, Wolfgang Ritter) belong to the Shattenjagger myth, a Shadowhunter chain, you're the next one to be considered as a part of that blood.

One night, a villagers came to ask you for your help. You can't refuse such a curiously made story, taking your amulet you go along with the task, asking your secretary and helpful friend Gerda to search for the similar things you're going after. You wake up at the farm of the Hubers, they lend you their car and house until you track down and hunt the (Were)Wolf who killed their daughter. I know it's not the only victim, but temporarily the last one, and with the most fresh tracks to do the research. Police probably couldn't find all the evidence, since they didn't count any supernatural things on their minds. However, the loval Kommisar Lieber will be here for 'some kinda' help.

Beside following the story, Gabriel is self independent pompous a$$ thinking of nothing more then a story to arise again, since his brains get stucked, and abviously can't think of anything unseen to write. Well, let's give 'em something to see. Beside that, he's charming li'l fella, who affraids to admit his feelings to anyone, especially Grace, but not as much as she does to him. After being bitten by a warewolf, there are only two options left to choose. Admit the face of the nature and true gruesome existence, or will he try to embrace the reason for living. It's not literally that hard choice, but I think it's harder for player then for Gabriel himself.

Grace Nakimura: being in Gabriel's New Orleans bookstore, while Gabriel is having all the fun, she realizes her place is with him, no matter the price of admission. And beside that point, the letter he sent her were driving her nutz in this borring piece of town. She packs her things, and first thing you know, she's already at the schloss Ritter. So, the fight begins. Grace and Gerda will not pass as a perfect friends, at least not for some time. Maybe after half of the game has been left behind, the friendship and endurance between them will grow, and sorrow will come to interfere and join them to friends.

Grace will actually investigate pretty much more then Gabriel himself. All the interesting facts will come from a woman's hand, the past, presence, and the story will be up to her to discover. Sinking more into investigation, as Gabriel's life is on the loose, she'll find a way to cure him, and succeed where king Ludwig II and Wolfgang have failed.

The game elements in global...

I don't think I need to say anything more about the story. Jane Jensen made it more then we could possibly expect, and it is a real experience for every adventurer who plays with a heart, not just mechanically. Just once more, in the shortest as I can... you're Gabriel Knight (and Grace Nakimura), and you're up to uncover all those mysterious killings, that are more... unhuman taste. Become involved into the club where you don't know who's the hunter and who's hunted. Act upon yout own thoughts.

Now let's give some brightness upon the music. Inspite conversations have some smaller flaws, the music shadows it all. The music is simply great. I heard from the Sins of the Fathers and Gabriel Knight III, and loved them both, but his one... phew! This one is better then from the sequel and prequel. I know many of you guys wouldn't agree with me, but the atmosphere in this game is clearly shown by the music in it, and you wouldn't need any nature sounds to get a grip of it. Such a lovely piano music inside the schloss Ritter is one of the best piano pieces I've ever heard. Really, thank you Robert, for making us easier to play and live it the whole time (which in my case was only three days, *sigh*).

Graphics is simply breathtaking. I played it under windows and under 1024x768 pixcels resolution, and no matter the game keeps its 640x480 or such resolution, without stretching under windows, the game was extraodinary in every aspect.

The Bad

Not a smallest spark of darkness.

The Bottom Line

If you like adventures, don't wait. If you're not sure, take a move forward. If you're scared, don't be, as the box cover has absolutely nothing with the game itself, though I like the cover just as it is. One thing's for sure, you won't move until the very last moment. Fare the well, and think about playing it. I'm sure you'll love it... if you're adventurer.