Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers

aka: Gabriel Knight I, Gabriel Knight: Die Sünden der Väter, Gabriel Knight: Les péchés des ancêtres, Gabriel Knight: Lucha Contra Las Fuerzas Sobrenaturales, Gabriel Knight: Pecados dos Pais, Gabriel: Zikhronot Afelim
Moby ID: 116
DOS Specs
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Description official descriptions

Gabriel Knight is a wise-cracking bookstore owner and would-be author. He is the last in a long line of Shadow Hunters, those fated to fight supernatural forces of evil. Tormented by terrifying nightmares, he must spend every waking moment scouring the side streets and back alleys of New Orleans for the key to his dark past. One day, a blood-chilling murder shocks the inhabitants of the city. The police detective assigned to investigate the crime is Gabriel's friend. In the beginning Gabriel collects evidence in hope of using the material for his new novel; but soon he finds himself personally involved in the investigation, and plunges deeper into the world of secret societies and murderous cults.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is a third-person puzzle-solving adventure game. Created by Jane Jensen, the game differs from Sierra's Quest games (e.g. Space Quest) by having a realistic setting and focusing (despite its supernatural elements and humor) on mature themes and detective work. In this way it is more similar to the company's earlier Laura Bow games.

The game's icon-based interface is the same as in Sierra's previous titles, with verb commands that allow interaction with the game world and its inhabitants. Though the game still has plenty of inventory-based puzzles characteristic for classic adventure, its gameplay is heavily inclined towards dialogue. Typically, Gabriel will have to interrogate other characters, choosing conversation topics and thus gradually finding clues and advancing towards the mystery's solution.

The game's locations are done in hand-painted style. The CD version of the game adds full voice-overs to the dialogues, as well as narrator's voice to text descriptions.

Spellings

  • גבריאל: זיכרונות אפלים - Hebrew spelling
  • 狩魔猎人 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

99 People (91 developers, 8 thanks) · View all

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[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 86% (based on 33 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.2 out of 5 (based on 307 ratings with 18 reviews)

Gabriel is the best adventure game series ever.

The Good
The voice acting was wonderful-Tim Curry was not as bad as some people say he was. The plot just grabs you by the seat of your pants and never lets go-you can't go to sleep at night due to the images and wondering what would happen next.

Another thing is the opening sequence. Boy. That just glued my eyes to the screen-scared, but not willing to take my eyes off the screen in fear of missing the next plot twist.

I think voodoo is a great topic for adventure games, and also New Orleans lends itself as a location. Plus I really liked the characters.

The graphics just blew my mind, and this game shows why I LOVE graphic adventures.

The Bad
It was buggy. That German bug made me almost smash my moniter, but I got over it. Also, the puzzle in the catcombs in which you had 2 milliseconds to respond was unbelievibly stupid. Also, I got stuck a LOT.

The Bottom Line
Buy it, but be warned. This game will very possibly ruin your social life. But it's worth it.

DOS · by emerging_lurker (160) · 1999

Probably the finest Sierra adventure ever made.

The Good
Being there for the original release of the first Gabriel Knight game sure was a bizarre moment in videogame history, sure, at my age I wasn't fully aware of what was going on behind the scenes, but even a kid of my age couldn't help but wonder about Sierra's newest franchise. After all, most of the games Sierra was famous for were the kid friendly King Quests and their assorted collection of comedic games. Heck! Jane Jensen's previous work as full-blown designer was that thumb-suckingly sweet acid trip known as King's Quest 6! So what gives? A SERIOUS game? (before you start annoying me let me note that I don't even bother counting the Police Quest series).

Yes, a serious game. And not only that, but remember this were the days when cds and interactive movies were all the rage, so Sierra released GK1 not just as another floppy title, but also in a cd version complete with a funky box that seems to be some sort of ninja weapon, slapped fully professional voice acting for all characters on it, and even included a self-congratulatory making-of video! Obviously Sierra placed all the chips on their golden boy not only with the hopes of getting ahead in the multimedia adventure race, but also to firmly establish another franchise from which to reap profits ad infinitum by churning out endless sequels as usual. A part of me always will delight in the tought of Sierra fucking the whole thing up and self-imploding from the failure, just because I'm that kind of sick sob that loves watching dreams crash and burn, but quite frankly I have to admit that the result was much more fulfilling for the gaming community as not only things worked out like a charm for Sierra, but us gamers got rewarded with one of the best and most original adventure games ever conceived.

Establishing itself as the first in a (hopefully) long-living series of games, "Sins of the Fathers" introduces us to the life of Gabriel Knight, your typical suave, charming and witty adventure game hero that barely makes ends meet by running one of those chic specialty bookstores in New Orleans's French Quarter (the kind cooky university professors with bushy beards and fuzzy sweaters love to get themselves lost into). Meanwhile he tries to cook up a novel about voodo stuff and somehow puts up with her clerk/assistant Grace, the typical serious and controlled female counterpart that in turn, somehow manages to put up with Gabe's annoying attitude (but secretly we all know they both want to jump in the sack -Ho HO HOW CLEVER!! ARE WE STILL IN HIGH SCHOOL??)... Anyway, par for the course I guess, but everything changes from the moment Gabe's police buddy Luke Skywalker, er... I mean Mosely (voiced by Luke himself) tips him off to a strange ritualistic murder that could serve as material for his book. From that point on Gabe will traverse the city looking for clues trying to uncover the strange voodo murders and taking the player into a downspiral ride into the underground cults and lore that have populated New Orleans since colonial times. Rich in urban legends and mysteries, New Orleans's african lore proves to be a tremendously fertile ground for Ms. Jensen to stretch out her writing legs, and thus she sets the grounds for what would become the staple of the series: meticulously researched historical facts and supernatural events as a means to carefully construct a world in which the player has no problem immersing himself and which also manages to craft a believable context that makes the action that takes place in it much more frightening and appealing.

These settings aren't constructed with lame expositions however, as Gabe is just as versed in the voodo lore as we are and takes you around New Orleans gathering facts and myths about the ancient religion, uncovering a pretty real underworld in which simple charms and rituals are everyday occurrences for some social circles, and other groups that deal with much more frighteningly deadly occurrences such as human sacrifices and assorted weirdness. By visiting scholars, cultists, shop owners, wealthy socialites and several other characters using the classic Sierra adventure gaming template, Gabe helps you construct the game world and it's inhabitants effectively immersing yourself into the mystery at hand without turning things into bland "The more you Know!..." moments as the sequels eventually developed into. It may sound cliché to say that the original is better than it's sequels, but at least on this account it's true: GK1 never lost that sense of urgency and "fuckedup-ness" that drove you forward, meaning the exposition and historic accounts were a part of the action and not just a pet-peeve of it's creator. Save for at least one sequence, the game's historic and "educational" background was firmly integrated into the issues at hand. Be it because of the carefully constructed murder conspiracy, the romantic interest involved in the middle of it, the search for Gabe's own relation to the murders, the bloody trail left by the many victims in the game, etc. The story and it's carefully researched background moves you forward and never lets down.

As I mentioned earlier, Sierra also made this game quite an event in terms of production values, and it remains as one of the best produced titles of the classic point'n click adventure genre. A class act of style that features a streamlined interface (based on the classic Sierra top tool-bar but done completely anew for the game with new actions and options [such as dialogue replaying] and it's own gloomy look), beautiful (but unfortunately pixellated) hand-drawn graphics that don't stop at illustrating the game's surroundings in vivid detail, but also incorporate rotoscoped animation for smoothly natural character movements as well as uniquely drawn character art that take the center stage whenever you trigger one of the many cinematic cutscenes that slice the screen up into edgy comic-book panels and that just ooze coolness.

Also as advertised , the CD version is a fully "talkie" product, but unlike the "recorded in the toilet and starring the programmer's parents" talkie "enhancements" of other multimedia products of it's time, Gabriel Knight features a full ensemble cast of professional figures, including Luke, Worf, King of Queen's Leah Remini, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., and even Darkness himself: Tim Curry! Furthermore, the moody soundtrack of Robert Holmes is amongst the most memorable collection of tunes ever assembled for an adventure game of that era and not only fits the game like a glove but also delivers a compelling experience on it's own.

Plus the game comes with an artsy printed graphic novel that serves as a prelude for the game! Don't you miss the days when developers did that? Now you are lucky if they remember to include the manual in pdf form...

The Bad
I can only note two problems with Gabriel Knight. First of all, regardless of the nice collection of credible, well-integrated puzzles there are some that are really out there and put the game into that classic adventure gaming mode known as "clicking on everything until you stumble into what the designer wanted you to do". Particularly interesting is reading the novelized adaptations of the GK games written by Jane Jensen herself, as one gets to see that even she has problems justifying some of the more far-out puzzles in a coherent way.

The other issue I have with the game, as another reviewer commented is with the "European adventures" portion of the game. I don't have a particular problem with the story developments or the dragon's dream, but I do feel the art director lost the concept of the game there and trying to make up a cold stony castle ended up crafting the most boring location in the game, and uh... well yeah, the plot developments there seem to be extremely rushed as if Mrs. Jensen herself were always behind a wall telling Gabe to speed things up and get back to the main story "Yeah, Yeah you are a Schattenjäger now get your ass moving!" and the whole sequence has a "wham, bang, thank you m'am" feel to it.

The Bottom Line
In my mind the first really, really, REALLY good title developed by Sierra, who managed to rise out of Lucasart's shadow and prove they had game. Not just by playing coy with comic or fantastic titles, but also by releasing a full-blown adult product that excels at storytelling, immersion, scripting, gameplay and execution. This is one of the adventure genre's best moments and a true classic in every sense of the word, anyone who hasn't played it deserves to be bathed in chicken blood and sacrificed by Lt. Worf for their heresy.

Windows 3.x · by Zovni (10503) · 2004

Did it again -- Kept me up

The Good
This game held my attention for a long while. It keeps you thinking even when you're not playing it -- Continue. The story is awesome, and unpredictable. It's great. This was tha basis for both GK 2 and 3, but 1 remains the best due to the extensive recognition which goes into both the interface and the setting. The voodoo-bit kept reminding me of Monkey Island 1 and 2, even though both these games don't show the historically correct information about voodoo.

The Bad
The fact that at times, it's not clear what to do to continue with the game. When you ask Grace to research something, the day can reach its end before you have completed everything to be done at that day. The bug which causes a crash when Gabe's uncle calls from germany is also a pain.

The Bottom Line
Great. Simple as that. I couldn't state it any better.

DOS · by Vohaul (19) · 1999

[ View all 18 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Gabriel Knight Multimedia CD-ROM Edwin Drost (9191) Feb 4, 2017
The game gets stuck at day 5 Nowhere Girl (8680) Apr 28, 2016
A GK remake and no one's talking about it chirinea (47510) Nov 11, 2014
I really dislike the narrator SnubPollard (62) Feb 8, 2013

Trivia

CD version

The CD version of the game includes a 20 minute behind the scenes avi file depicting the creation of Gabriel Knight. The file also included interviews with most of the cast, lead designer/writer Jane Jensen and others.

Covermount releases

  • The full, original game on CD was bundled with the 1/2001 edition of Computer Gaming World magazine.
  • The full, original game on CD was bundled with the July 1997 edition of CD-Rom Today, a Brazilian computer magazine.

German version

The German CD-ROM version has a major bug, which causes to crash the games at at least three points during the game. The program obviously hangs, because of a corrupted soundfile. Turn off voices & music in the crashing scenes and you can go on playing.

Leilani Jones

Leilani Jones (Malia Gedde) seems to like the Voodoo Priestess gig. She also plays one in LucasArts' Curse of Monkey Island.

Novel

Jane Jensen> has written a novelization of the game, first printed in February 1997, through Penguin's ROC imprint. The game's sequel was also given the novelization treatment.

References

  • It could be a coincidence, but there is a real life blues musician from Lousiana, named Dr. John. Perhaps the character's name came from a fan.
  • On day 3, you’re able to attend a (pretty boring) lecture at the Tulane university. Take a walk in the lecture hall and read the bulletin board. After looking at it a few times, you’ll get the message “There's a notice for a lecture on Investigative Reporting techniques to be given by octogenarian Pulitzer Prize winner Laura Bow Dorian." This refers to two game characters from the Laura Bow II – Dagger of Amon Ra adventure: Laura Bow en Steve Dorian. In the game, they fell in love. An octogenarian means someone between 80 and 90 in age, so this assumes the two of them got married in the end.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • June 1994 (Issue #119) – Adventure Game of the Year (together with Maniac Mansion 2: Day of the Tentacle
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #7 Best Way To Die In Computer Gaming (get the heart ripped out by a zombie)

Information also contributed by Alan Chan, chirinea, Chris Mikesell, Isdaron; Pseudo_Intellectual, Sciere and Zovni

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Eurythmic.

Windows added by Picard. Windows 3.x added by MAT. Macintosh added by Katakis | カタキス.

Additional contributors: MAT, Andrew Hartnett, Unicorn Lynx, Jeanne, Daniel Saner, chirinea, Sciere, Xoleras, Boston Low, 1gnition, Zeppin, Patrick Bregger.

Game added May 13, 1999. Last modified January 21, 2024.