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

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 86% (based on 33 ratings)

Player Reviews

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

Nobody does voodoo like you do

The Good
When we say "adventure", we often think "comedy adventure", and the reason for that is simple: the greatest classic adventure games are comedies. "Serious" adventure games have always been much less popular. Sins of the Father is not the first attempt on this field, but it is the first one that takes hardcore puzzle-solving gameplay and charming humor that made comedy adventures great, and uses it to create an amazingly intense, atmospheric experience with touches of horror, an intricate narrative, and an unprecedented (for adventure games) degree of realism.

Sins of the Fathers succeeds where most others failed, before and after. How to make an adventure with puzzles that are hard enough, yet do not distract from the realistic setting of the game? How to combine humor with horror? How to write a story that is supernatural and natural at the same time? How to create lovable characters that resemble real people in everything they do, without becoming dull? This game solves all these problems.

The unique atmosphere of New Orleans fascinates the player from the very beginning. Every corner of the city oozes mystery, yet at the same time the city is so realistic. You'll meet typical inhabitants, old French catholics, Haitian voodoo specialists, black people who talk with that wonderful Southern accent, and many others.

The heroes of the game, Gabriel and Grace, belong to the most charismatic and memorable characters the adventure genre has ever produced. Their witty dialogue provide the necessary comic relief and give the game a wonderfully light personality, despite all the horrors that occur in it. By the way, be sure to get the CD version of the game - the voice-overs are fantastic.

A deeply involving story develops in New Orleans, written by Jane Jensen, the master story-teller. Detective mystery, educational trip into the realm of occult sciences, information about a region and its inhabitants, religious fable of sin and redemption - it is hard to say to what style this story belongs, but one thing is sure: it is good in everything it does.

The outlines of the plot follow a classic detective/mystery pattern: a crime takes place in the beginning of the game, and you have to find out who committed it and why. But of course, this is not just a regular crime, and soon you'll plunge into the world of ancient cults, superstitions, and magic. What is so great about this story and about Jane Jensen's style in general is not the abundance of supernatural effects to stun the player; it is rather the extremely natural approach to everything that happens, which makes it so credible, no matter how incredible it actually is. All the supernatural things grow out of a realistic setting, so that the player never feels they are forced. One of the techniques Jane Jensen uses to reach this high level of credibility is the correctness of the cultural material used in the game. She gathers historical details to meticulously reconstruct the picture of voodoo cult, and because of this scientific approach, the player is convinced the whole thing is real.

This is the background for a game that was developed by a company that already had years of experience in making quality adventure games. But even for Sierra, the gameplay of Sins of the Fathers was a rare achievement. The biggest problem that creators of serious adventure games have to face is the fact tricky puzzles aren't realistic and usually don't fit in an involving story. Either you fill your game with hilarious item combinations and get a comedy; fill it with mind-breaking puzzles, stop the action and make it a dull Myst clone; or reduce the gameplay to a minimum and get a shallow "interactive movie".

Sierra chose a different approach. I believe their early games like Colonel's Bequest employed the method of "detective simulation" - and probably there were text adventures that did it even much earlier. In any case, this is the path Sins of the Fathers followed. It is based mainly on investigation and dialogues: you talk to people to find out more about the topics you are interested in, then ask other people about the new topics you learn in process, etc. But at the same time, the game is full of hardcore puzzles that are very creative and that are equally far from Myst-style riddles and insane inventory orgies of comic adventures.

When playing a semi-serious adventure such as Fate of Atlantis, I still felt very strongly I was in a game. Sins of the Fathers never evoked in me this feeling. One of the greatest achievements of its gameplay is the fact it is a challenging game with real puzzles and serious detective work, yet it is not a collection of brilliant puzzles that are there just for their own sake.

Sins of the Fathers is also one of the last masterpieces of hand-painted graphic style. If you want to see how beautiful a 2D game can look without resembling a cartoon, take a look at this game. That was the "serious" graphics style that matched the game perfectly. There are many dark colors, especially brown, to make the game world look more mysterious and sinister, yet very cosy at the same time. Character portraits that appear during the dialogues are excellent. In addition to that, the game is accompanied by one of the best MIDI music scores I have ever heard.

The Bad
Not all the puzzles in the game are great; some just made me scratch my head, wondering why they were inserted into this game. Worse are the dreadful moments of "irreversible" situations: I believe that there are a few instances where you can get irrevocably stuck in the game because you forgot to do something before. This still reminded me that it was a Sierra game, after all.

There is also a bit too much of "triggering" - walking around and talking to people over and over again, going through all the locations in circles, clicking on everything on the screen, etc., in hope of triggering a scripted event and being able to advance the story.

The Bottom Line
I don't know what kind of voodoo magic they did here, but Sins of the Fathers proved that adventure games could, in fact, tell serious, involving stories, create dark, atmospheric worlds, and even throw at you educational material without boring you to death - all without sacrificing the gameplay. Truly a timeless classic, Sins of the Fathers is required gaming for those who care for the genre.

DOS · by Unicorn Lynx (181769) · 2011

Gabriel Knight is proof that computer games can be an artform.

The Good
Computer games rarely have an incredible story behind them. Most ignore the concept completely. Others try their best to catch you with some ideas and some witty dialogue. Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is a well crafted tale from start to finish. The concept is fairly original, the characters engaging, their dialogue well written, the pacing well done, and the intricacies of the plot woven beautifully. Every character seems human and you'd be hard pressed to find one three dimensional (personality wise) character in a game, much less the five or so well-rounded main characters in GK. The legendary aspects, the voodoo involvement, the mystery and suspense all are done just right.

The graphics, though of low resolution, are the epitome of Sierra's 2-D painted graphics. They capture the scenes and people exceptionally and will make you question the 'benefits' of full 3-D graphics. The cutscenes unfold in very high-caliber graphic novel formats and carry the story wonderfully.

On the CD-Version, the voice acting was all done well. As GK came out in the early days of CD 'Talkie' games, it's remarkable that the voice-overs are done so professionally. Some people disliked Tim Curry as Gabriel, but I felt the over-done 'N'awlens' accent was perfect for Gabriel, who was an over-the-top character with a roguish heart. Mark Hamill, as usual, does wonderful voice-acting as Gabriel's friend, Det.Mosely and Michael Dorn puts in a good performance as the threatening Doctor John. The rest of the actors all put in a good job as well.

The Bad
In its original form, the game was buggy, to the point where it could not be completed. Fixed in patches, it was still an annoyance that you would have to start all over again. Fortunately, this won't be an issue for someone who digs up a copy of the game.

The pacing of the game itself wasn't as good as the pacing of the story. Days passed only when you completed all the mandatory requirements. While usually this is better than having a game clock that forces things along even if you're not resolving anything, you would often find yourself exhausting every possible location before finding that one remaining obscure clue. Or, you would be lucky and uncover everything you needed to move on and have the day move quickly with little chance to see any of the voluntary side-bits.

Pet-peeve: The CD version box. While cool looking and unique in shape, it looked very warped and out of place on the shelf...well, maybe that was the whole point. <g>

The Bottom Line
An incredibly well-crafted adventure game with a superb story, interesting characters, and a fresh environment. Fans of classic adventure games, lovers of good stories, or those interested in voodoo should take a look.

DOS · by Ray Soderlund (3501) · 2000

You got what it takes to become a Schattenjäger?

The Good
Gabriel Knight - Sins of the Fathers is a game I knew little about until I bought it on along with its two sequels. I also saw Pushinguproses' episode dedicated to the game and after watching her review I was very excited to play the game. Not only did I enjoy it, but Gabriel Knight also revitalized my appetite for adventure games!

In Gabriel Knight - Sins of the Fathers, you play as the titular character, an ambitious but not very successful novelist who lives in New Orleans and owns a book store (that virtually nobody actually visits). Suffering from writer's block, Gabriel decides to help his best friend and police detective Mosely solve a string of murders in which the murder victims were apparently used in Voodoo inspired sacrificial rituals. As our hero investigates the case, he discovers that his German ancestors have quite some involvement in the events happening in New Orleans. He also encounters Malia Gedde, a beautiful woman who gets romantically involved with Gabriel but who keeps a very dark secret away from him.

The game's story is told through the course of ten days and will take Gabriel to various real-life New Orleans locations such as Jackson Square, the Tulane University and the Bayou St. John. He will also visit a castle in Germany and mummy-infested catacombs in Africa. For every day, you have a certain set of puzzles to solve, information to discover and items to find before you can move on to the next day.

The game itself plays like a traditional 90s Sierra point-and-click adventure. So you click all over the screen in order to move Gabriel around, let him interact with objects or people or examine his surroundings. The game also has a score system (a stable feature in Sierra adventure games). You won't get the full score if you only do the actions necessary to complete the game. This adds some nice replay value and encourages you to explore and experiment. When you talk to people, you have access to a huge variety of subjects to talk about, you can ask them important questions in order to progress the story or just have some small-talk with them. It adds great depth to the conversations and helps fleshing out the characters you meet.

Two of the game's best aspects are its story and characters. The story may be a bit unoriginal, but it's told in such a way that it keeps you interested until the very end. Like Gabriel himself, you will slowly but surely discover the truth behind the murders, Gabriel's family and what the word Schattenjäger means. As you play through the game you will also get some nice educational information about New Orleans and Voodoo culture (the real one and not what you saw in the second Indiana Jones movie).

When it comes to the characters in the game, you can expect quite a variety of personalities, both friendly and hostile. Aside from the characters I mentioned before, there's Gabriel's sexy and intelligent personal assistant Grace (who remains professional and level-headed despite Gabriel's macho humor). You will also meet the intimidating and shady Voodoo museum owner Dr. John and Gabriel's relative Wolfgang, who plays a key role later in the game.

Voice acting and music is nothing short of amazing. The game has some very talented actors voicing its characters. For example, Gabriel Knight is voiced by Tim Curry, detective Mosely has Mark Hamill's vocal chords provided to him and Michael Dorn gives life to Dr. John. Virtually all actors did a splendid job at bringing their characters to life and make them very memorable. Gabriel Knight in particular steals the show. He's a flawed and relatable regular Joe, he sometimes lets his impulses get the better off him but his incorruptible sense of justice and fearless daredevil attitude make him really stand out from the crowd.

The music, composed by Robert Holmes, has plenty of variety and always fits perfectly in the situations you encounter in the game. The musical score ranges from joyful fanfare music and blues rock to downright threatening African drumming. It all adds to the game's compelling and sometimes very scary atmosphere. You cannot help but feel that the villains are watching you every move and that they could just kill you when they want to. In particular the moments taking place in the African catacombs really unsettled me. It features the dark and brooding drumming I already mentioned, and seeing all those seemingly dead mummies really made me wonder what will happen next!

The Bad
There are a few moments at the game's final day wherein you may risk getting into an unwinnable situation. I'm not sure whether there are similar situations at earlier days of the game, therefore I highly recommend you to use at least two saves and use one of them to save your game at the beginning of each day.

The game's narrator gets on my nerves from time to time. I believe the developers wanted her to be a Voodoo witch or fortuneteller but she really oversells her role in my opinion. She speaks very slowly and with way too much drama. Fortunately, you can turn her voice off in the game's options.

Just as a little warning, Gabriel Knight is pretty gory at times. The game doesn't shy away from showing you lying on the floor with a zombie on top of you, ripping out your heart and eating it as an afternoon snack! So avoid this game if you're squeamish about blood and guts.

The Bottom Line
Gabriel Knight - Sins of the Fathers is considered among many to be one of the all time greatest games in the adventure genre and I completely agree with that. Like a great crime novel, you really get engaged into the story and want to play on until the very end. This combined with the game's memorable cast of characters, awesome soundtrack and voice acting makes the game a thrilling rollercoaster ride! Now it's your turn to play, Schattenjäger!

DOS · by Stijn Daneels (79) · 2015

Maybe the only adventure game to have physical effect on the way I dress.

The Good
I never was that big a fan of the Sierra adventure games. Sure, Sierra was one of my top 5 favorite game makers but, their games were either a bit childish in my taste in the case of the king quest games or didn't leave a lasting impression on me in the case of police and space quest games

That is until Gabriel Knight: Sins of Fathers.

I don't remember when or how I got the game, but about 10 minutes into the game I was hooked. First the Hero, Gabriel. I don't know who said it (maybe my brother) "Hey this guy is a like a clone of you" and maybe they were right, I was immediatly drawn in. Gabriel was like my computerized ego.

Second the place. A bookstore in New-Orleans. What can be a better setting for a occult mystery then this great city?

Third the plot. I didn't hear or read about the game before I played, so I didn't know what to expect, and a good thing it is. The plot of game (and the game as a whole) left an impression on me the same as is created by reading a great book or watching a superb movie. The hero starts the day without knowing what will happen, as he is drawn into a murder mystery the involves the occult, family heritage, romance with a stranger that cannont be, a friend that turns into a love intrest, a police detective that without his help you will not succeed and a plot that spans from New-Orleans to a castle in germany to african catacombs and back.

The only game that left me wanting to go around in blue jeans a white t-shirt and long black jacket while riding a harley around town. (I was too young for an harley)

Will always be in my eyes the best sierra game ever made, and one of best adventure games ever made.

The Bad
The only annoying thing, was a part in the african catacombs you had to click in an exact point of the screen within only a few second, otherwise you die, this was pointless, I was stuck for hours until I figured it out. But other then that there was nothing I didn't like, and I even think it was fixed with a patch.

The Bottom Line
Superb adventure, as good as any great movie or book. Still my number one favorite sierra game. (with the quest of glory games close behind)

DOS · by GrimReaper (9) · 1999

Yet another redefining game by Sierra, and the first from Jane Jensen

The Good
The story, the story, the story, I can't say it enough, Jane Jensen did a marvelous job of constructing a complex, and riveting story, at the same time developing it into an excellent game. This title was a boost in the adventure genre's arm, telling a good story in a modern environment, that was not only chilling, but frightening realistic! The research into the subject matter is deep and thorough, this becomes clear as you progress into the game. The story is what kept me playing, but the puzzles were also top notch and imaginative, there are a few that take are abstarct, but they don't take from the game. The dialogue is also great Tim Curry does a top notch job as do the other voice acters.

The Bad
Nothing really, this is the ideal adventure game, perfectly blending a deep story, with excellent gameplay.

The Bottom Line
Buy it, Buy it NOW!

DOS · by Jonathon Howard (114) · 2000

Too short! Got me started(again) on adventure games. The last one I played was Mindstone for ZX Spectrum in 1988.

The Good
The voice acting! Simply incredible! Tim Curry as Gabriel, Leah Remini as Grace, Mark Hamill as Mosely, Michael Dorn as the voodoo master(sorry, forgot his name) The music! The music for the CD-version is simply superb! It sticks in your mind and won't let go - to get midi samples you can go to Quest Studios. The drama! Family cursed with duty to stop evil - and a Romeo and Juliet romance develops! The intrigue! All around you the eyes are watching - and you don't know who to trust!

The Bad
It was too short! Aaargh! I finished it!

The Bottom Line
Go. Buy this. It will show you what TRUE adventure gaming is.

DOS · by P Ray (7) · 2003

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

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

One of the best from sierra. Like Angel Heart , only in game form.

The Good
The atmosphere of New Orleans is incredible. Many movies have attempted and failed at creating that evil atmosphere. (Angel Heart is perhaps the only exception i can think of) A mixture of beautiful french style, but the feeling of evil in every scene.

The plot is quite good (for the first few days). I got to the point where i couldnt stop playing cause i was so keen to find out what happened next. Whereas on other games (Kings quest ) there was no real plot other than to do unusal things to find the princess.

In fact , the only sierra game which comes close GK is police quest 4.(in my opinion)

The Bad
When you go to germany and see a dragon. Europe can be the most atmospheric place for a game , but the designers blew it by placing more childish elements in the europe segment.(The dragon - The idea that Gabriel's family comes from a wierd order who attack evil. Gabriel should have had evil ancestors who had been damned) Finally , the last day , when gabe goes to the underground lair. Destroys the entire fel of the game.

The Bottom Line
Worth buying two copies , one to play and one to set upon an altar and worship.

DOS · by Shayne Bates (12) · 2001

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.

DOS · by _Oracle (24) · 2003

This review is brought to you by the letter V... for voodoo

The Good
If you've played King's Quest VI, you will know that it was co-designed (and written) by Jane Jensen, who was praised for her storytelling techniques, and it was part of the reason why KQ6 is the best-selling KQ game of all time. Impressed by her talents as a writer, Sierra gave her a chance to spear-head one of the best series ever to come out of the company. Each of the three games in the Gabriel Knight series focuses on a particular style and subject; and Sins of the Fathers, the first game in the series, is a point-and-click adventure game and focuses on Voodoo, a far cry from the fantasy setting.

Gabriel Knight is the last in the long line of Schattenjӓgers – shadow hunters – whose purposes are to fight the dark forces of the supernatural. He is also researching a book about Voodoo that causes him to have nightmares. He has to spend every moment in New Orleans searching for the key to his dark past. One day, a ritualistic murder torments the city and Gabriel attends the crime scene hoping to collect material for his new book, but ends up going down a dangerous path of secret societies and murderous cults.

Sins of the Fathers is quite a long adventure game. It consists of ten days, and each one starts off with a part of a poem by Gabriel himself, and you won't see how it ends until the final day. You should pay attention to these snippets as they tell you what is going to happen on or what you are supposed to do. For instance, the part on the first day refers to Gabriel's initial sighting of a mysterious woman he meets. Having said that, I like the stuff Gabriel has to do on most of the days, stuff such as attending the crime scene, sit on a police interview, write his own coded message, and attend a conclave out in the swamp (at his own risk).

Gabriel will meet up with many characters throughout the game. Some characters will help him while some will be hostile toward him. Grace, his assistant, is the first of the major characters we meet. She is primary there to help Gabriel with his research. I like the chemistry between her and Gabriel, with him making these great one-liners and Grace having none of it. She gets more and more worried about Gabriel as he gets closer to danger. The next major character we meet is Mosely. He is a police detective who happens to be a close friend of Gabriel. He's happy to help Gabriel with any information for his book. I enjoyed how Gabriel proves to be a smart-aleck toward Mosely (in a nice kind of way, of course).

The game comes on both floppy and CD versions, with the latter featuring full speech, high-res art, and a “Making of” video. In the CD version, most of the characters are portrayed by Hollywood actors (such as Tim Curry and Mark Hamill) who deliver top-notch performances, and the minor characters are portrayed by the same actors. Curry returns in the third game as Jensen believed that he represented the real voice of Gabriel.

The amount of research put into the game is just amazing, and the manual makes mention of the references that Sierra used. Because of these references, I learned about certain Voodoo terms that I never heard before, such as Hoodoo and Vodoun, as well as names that refer to objects used in the voodoo conclaves. This wasn't the first time Sierra put research into the game. They did it with The Dagger of Amon Ra, as well as Gold Rush! before that.

Gabriel can die, just like any other protagonist in a Sierra adventure game. However, having him just roam around and not having him die until halfway through the adventure is a stroke of genius, and this is a technique used in the two other games. I think GK is death-free until around the fifth day. The box doesn't warn that the game contains “adult subject matter” for nothing. In Sins of the Fathers, there is a fair amount of blood and hideous deaths, and there is one scene in the game where I was about to get turned on by the sight of the female antagonist dancing around wearing nothing but a loincloth.

The game was the last of the Sierra adventure games to use true, hand-painted backgrounds before the company turned its attention to interactive movies and Disney-style graphics. There is a certain palette Sierra used that gives Sins of the Fathers a dark and sinister feel to it. The character portraits are great and don't suffer from the “ventriloquist bug” that plagues characters in other Sierra games (the hermit from King's Quest V, for instance).

The soundtrack is done by Robert Holmes (Jane Jensen's husband now), and he did a brilliant job making sure the soundtrack blends in with the situation that Gabriel is in. I enjoyed listening to the title tune, which can only be heard in the CD version. The sound effects are a mixed-bag in both versions of the game. In the disk version, they are OK, but nothing to get excited about. They are on par with those found in Sierra's games that use the SCI1 engine. In the CD version, they act as ambient sound effects, since they are stored in .wav files and played throughout the game, adding to the atmosphere. But there is a problem with this as I will discuss in “The Bad” section.

Finally, both versions of the game come with a graphic novel about a murder that took place in South Carolina three-hundred years ago, written by Jensen and illustrated by Terese Neilsen. It is about one of Gabriel's ancestors who falls in love with a beautiful witch, then betrays her. I enjoyed reading this and it sets up the game nicely. I recommend you read this, even if you have no plans to play the game.

The Bad
Sins of the Fathers has an extended icon bar where there are extras icons such as “Open”, “Operate”, and “Move”, as well as those we are familiar with in a Sierra game. This creates confusion for new players. When I played this game for the first time for example, I ended up using the hand cursor on the bike in Jackson Square to eavesdrop on some radio chatter. The game wouldn't let me do this, as I needed to “operate” it instead.

As I said before, the CD version contains ambient sound effects that are stored in .wav files. But when these are played, there is a significant pause before the dialogue is spoken. When you restore a game in both versions, the game's volume is automatically set too high instead of the volume you set yourself.

If you are on Day 6 and you got anything higher than a Pentium, you will have problems getting into Mosely's office when he is not there. If this happens to you, you need to use DOSBox or go into your BIOS and disable the L2 cache. There was one time where I tried playing the Windows version (that is included on the CD) while the L2 cache was disabled, but it behaved like a dinosaur resulting in my computer locking up.

The Bottom Line
I like to think of Sins of the Fathers as Monkey Island 2 with a much, darker tone since it has the same amount of humor while maintaining a dark and sinister atmosphere. What is unique about it is death occurs much later in the game, and this is carried over to the next two GK games. Sins of the Fathers is an excellent adventure game from Sierra, and one that I recommend you having in your collection and played at least once.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43087) · 2016

One of the seven wonders of gaming

The Good
"The flesh is weak, Johnny. Only the soul is immortal." (You know what I'm talking about, right?)

The Bad
"I got a thing about chickens" :-P

The Bottom Line
It was the time when Sierra’s classic series had started to lose their splendor and brightness. Lacking the necessary originality and innovation, they somehow repeated themselves without offering something progressive. It was then that Jane Jensen, already an employee of the company, was given the chance to make her designing debut. The result was “Gabriel Knight”, an adventure that took the world of gaming by surprise and arguably is the genre’s finest hour.

The game casts us as Gabriel Knight, an unsuccessful writer who lives in his bookshop in the French Quarter of New Orleans, striving for a breakthrough in his career. He is not the kind of person who takes life very seriously. Also, he often displays laziness, bad manners and a bit of eccentricity. But he definitely has a charming personality to save him. His assistant, Grace, is the exact opposite of him. She is serious, organized and methodical. Very often their strong personalities come to disagreement, but undoubtedly there is an interesting chemistry between them. One of Gabriel’s few and greatest concerns are the inexplicable and horrible nightmares that haunt him and deeply depress him. He is currently working on a book inspired by the so-called ‘Voodoo Murders’ that are taking place in the city during the recent weeks. His best friend, Police Detective Mosely, provides him with some useful ‘inside-information’. In the coming days, Gabriel will meet his destiny. Day by day, a chain of supernatural events will change him forever. The scenario draws elements from the ‘neo-gothic’ lore. It is dark, mysterious, erotic, thrilling and dramatic. It could as well be the script of an actual film.

“Gabriel Knight” is a ‘pseudo-3d’ adventure that utilizes the icon-based system. Specifically, it makes a new approach to this system. First of all, the game introduces a new way of making conversations with other people. Except for the ‘TALK’ one, we now have the ‘ASK’ icon. The first is used for interactions of a more open and general nature. Now the second one brings us in the ‘interrogation mode’. There, between the portraits of Gabriel and of the interviewed person, is a list of subjects for discussion. Most of them apply to all the people we interact with, but there are some that solely concern certain individuals. Talking will usually lead to other subjects that will arise. The immensity and the depth of this procedure are simply remarkable. Apart from giving us clues on how to continue our investigation, it nicely outlines the richly designed personalities of the characters we interact with. We can later hear all the dialogues through the ‘RECORDER’ option. The typical ‘HAND’ icon is here divided in four different ones. There are the ‘PICK UP’, ‘OPEN/CLOSE’, ‘OPERATE’ and ‘MOVE’ icons. This separation makes for more demanding playing, as the player must have a clear idea of what he needs to do rather than randomly clicking on things.

Visually, the title reaches excellence. It is not only that its graphics are brilliantly designed. Above all, it is how successfully they fit its environment. Their dark style, coloring and shading strongly grasp the ‘film-noir’ concept. There are many places to visit. All of them are designed in great detail and with a certain ‘dim’ effect that makes them mystifying and enigmatic. That ‘dark detail’ is present everywhere, in the sprites, in the character-portraits, in the foregrounds and the backgrounds. In some places, like the cemetery, we constantly have the feeling that something unexpected is about to suddenly take place. The graphics include several superb cut-scenes. There are two kinds of them, the first are the ones that appear every night, during Gabriel’s tormenting dreams. They consist of series of still images that succeed each other very fast, radiating a terrifying and sometimes paranoid feeling. The other ones take place during the actual playing time. They are made of small graphical strips that emerge from the left of the screen moving to the right, in a comics-like fashion.

The sound aspect of the game is also superior. The musical score is simply an outstanding classic. It contains distinctive themes for every location and occasion of the game, all wisely chosen to amplify the impact and the sensation. Relaxed pieces of music and more powerful ones appropriately. Also, several high-quality sound effects support the experience.

There are all kinds of puzzles in this adventure. Some of them require the correct use of items. Others are about being in the right place in the right moment. A few are based on close observation of factors. And finally there are those of a larger scale that involve more than one location. They are all based on logic and reason and are made with respect and care for the player and his entertainment. During playing we will also encounter several, full of agony, time-sequences* where swift moving and acting is essential. The game is generally of high difficulty and lasts for many intriguing hours.

Some months after its release in floppy disks, the game became available in CD format. The CD version has two major updates compared with the diskettes one. Firstly, it has full speech support for every person in the game. All the voices are convincing and sound right in terms of acting performance. The voice-cast even includes two quite known actors, Tim Curry and Mark Hamill as Gabriel and Detective Mosely respectively. Tim Curry satisfactorily captures the accent and the mentality of the stereotyped Southerner, overdoing it only in a couple of instances. The second important improvement is that, thanks to the CD’s capacity, the cut-scenes of the dreams now have animation that makes them much more fluid. Needless to say, anyone who wants to play this game is encouraged to prefer the enhanced CD edition.

“Gabriel Knight” had two great sequels. Each one had drastic changes in the technology and method it used. But both of them are inferior to their predecessor. It seems that they could not reach the unrepeatable atmosphere and feel of it. This timeless masterpiece is unlike anything we have ever seen. Recommended to every self-respecting gamer “Gabriel Knight” is, especially for us passionate adventurers, an experience of a lifetime.

  • In the sixth day of the game, the use of a slow-down utility (e.g. Turbo) is needed for passing the time-sequence in the police station.

DOS · by Iron Lord (40) · 2016

A shadow lurks on New Orleans...

The Good
Who said video-games were a kid thing? The one who said that should see Gabriel Knight to keep his mouth closed, we are in front of a game (nearly a film) which has been worked on every department with extremely great care. When i first thought about writing this review, the first thing that came to my mind was: Where the hell i am gonna start?! Obviously Gabriel Knight isn't a common game, first you get spellbound by that great atmosphere in St. George's Library (that main theme surely is brilliant!) then you know Gabriel some more and feel some kind of sympathy towards him, then you see the wonderful plot develop... and well, what comes later is a rollercoaster of feelings comparable just to just a few great films. Almost everything in that game is good.

The Bad
Maybe some of the sprites could have been better worked, it is hard to know what object is lying on a table when you only see four pixels of the same tone... but anyway the good points beat that.

The Bottom Line
Tired of silly games with easy and meaningless plots? Try Gabriel Knight, maybe it will change your conception of gaming. It is a great antecedent to the maybe even greater sequels.

DOS · by Depth Lord (932) · 2005

Once in a while, Sierra manages to get everything right.

The Good
I don't think there's a whole bunch to not like about this game. For starters, Jane Jensen's masterful writing will keep you on your toes until the very end. This is backed up by great character design, a good MIDI score with lots of memorable themes, beautiful character portraits, and the best voice acting that I've ever heard in a computer game. Tim Curry absolutely makes the role of Gabriel Knight his own. The game also includes lots of other stars and people of note: Leah Remini (Grace Nakimura), Mark Hamill (Detective Mosely), Michael Dorn (Dr. John), and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr (Wolfgang Ritter). The ending is rewarding, the game drips with atmosphere, and the story will stick with you long after you've finished playing.

The Bad
In terms of pure gameplay, I can't think of anything bad to say aboout GK. There are a couple of rough spots as far as technology goes, though. There is a patch available for the game, and as I recall you do have to download and install the patch in order to be able to finish the game. Do it before you start playing, because once you run the patch you won't be able to use your old saved games. Unfortunately, the terrific voice acting wasn't always well recorded. There is much more clipping than there should be in a professional product. (Clipping is the digital version of analog recording's distortion; it means recording levels were set too high.) Also, sometimes the recording levels were set too low and you have to do some quick audio adjustment to hear what people are saying. The game will only allow subtitles OR speech, so you can't both read and hear what people are saying. However, it would take a lot more than this to have taken away from my enjoyment of the wonderful acting. This game is from an era where diskette versions of games were still shipped; in fact, they often shipped quite a long time before the CD-ROM versions were. Make sure you get the CD-ROM version. I still rated the game a 5 in every area - except for graphics. The comic-style cutscenes were a cool idea, and the high resolution character portraits (I believe these were only available in the Windows version of the CD-ROM game) easily rival, and often surpass the 3D graphics of today. However, the in-game 320x240 graphics could have been better.

The Bottom Line
If you're an adventure gamer and you haven't played Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, shame on you. Go out and buy it right now. :)

DOS · by Eurythmic (2663) · 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 (10504) · 2004

Guybrush Threepwood gone detective!

The Good
Well for one, this is one deep story. Other Sierra adventure games had this "surface level-fun kiddies" kinda of story line. This is the first Sierra Adventure game with a really serious-adult like approach to a game. The mysterious but not so creepy storyline gave a constant adrenaline flow, but not so much to give you a heart attack.

Our main character appears to be a favorite among "men with minds like boys" : a cool, mysterious laidback kinda guy, but always seems to be a corny and horny guy in the background. Gabriel Knight is yet the most "real character" most blokes can relate with. One thing that is probably memorable is the various "useless actions" that ol'Gabriel does especially when he interacts with his lovely secretary. It may not have to do anything with the overall plot, but it certainly was the most memorable ones.

The graphics in this game is astounding, coincidently enough it's about the same period to the breath-taking graphics in Hero's Quest III. I remember just stopping and notice on how "smooth" the graphics were compared to previous Sierra adventure games.

One of the best things about the game was the Sound and the Music. The sound was totally aligned with the game-play: the sound of the motorcylce racing along is one of the most memorable sounds you get. The music cool and mysterious, certainly shall be a reminder of the best music compositions around in gaming history.

The Bad
Can you spell: B U G S?

Unfortunately, the reason why I didn't finish this game was the multitude of bugs which often cause the dang game to crash. Bugs appear to be a favorite feature among Sierra adventure games...don't know why.

Something I've noticed about this particular Sierra adventure game compared to other Sierra adventure games was the lack of "places" games like King's Quest there are many places which may or may not have something for the hero to do. In Gabriel Knight there usually is something to do every area you visit, although more than often it's just one of two things. After that, you barely visit them again. It's like the church in the game, the only thing you do there is to get some pastor's clothes. That it. Ho-hum. Oh, well.

To my recollection, the puzzles were one of the toughest I have experienced, even by Sierra's standards. Funny that it was tough despite the it was the "point and click" adventure types. My IQ must've have been not very high back then...not that much has changed now...:p

The Bottom Line
Certainly one of the best mystery adventures around.

DOS · by Indra was here (20750) · 2004

Deep into the heart of the mystery.

The Good
Having "The Beast Within" on my desk, it didn't take me too long for me to realize getting other GKs is about to be inevitable for me. That second installment of Gabriel Knight was really a masterpiece in everything, down from the story, acting, animations and details, all the way to the main point of every greatly developed game, sticking your a$$ near the computer until the very fine ending, and more, as long as the influence works.

Well, about just a month after, I got myself GK1 and GK3 (and I don't have to say original GK1 is not that easy to find nowadays, not the SEALED mint box, that is :) I plugged the game in and I was already awaited with the well known music theme up front. I cannot say I was amused by the animation quality, but I sure liked the macho crap from my character all the time, as well as 256 colors nicely painted backgrounds and everything else.

First of all, I'll mention this, I'm by no means fond of any of seen in Gabriel Knight series, not I like Voodoo topics (expect when it comes for Monkey Island), nor werewolves, and especially not vampires. However, Gabriel Knight by some means (especially the good plot, acting and atmosphere) allowed me to like the mentioned all the way to the end.

I have a CD version of this game, so I must admit that speech quality is one of the best ever seen. Same with GK3, and that Tim Curry (Gabriel Knight) has really great voice/accent to be used as main character. Only game that has better voices and speech quality (and I don't mean in technical way) is "Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis". Variety of accents and talks in that game was awesome.

All in one, this is one helluva adventure game with a slight step towards mystical/occult forces and horror, great nevertheless. Of course, as it usually goes for some game series, all three games are heavily connected, so if you haven't played this one or any other GK game yet, this is where you should start.

Oh boy, I just loove that old 2d poin 'n' click adventure games with 256 colors or less, they're just marvelous. However, I have nothing against adventure games with more colors or nice effects and animations like "Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned", "Blackstone Chronicles: An Adventure in Terror", "Tex Murphy: Overseer", "Blade Runner" or others. Anyway, my personal favorite game genre is 'adventure' one, so it's to expect that I'll be more oriented on having such games, but hey, if I continue here, I'll literally go off-topic. This is one in a lifetime opportunity to experience really great story, no matter which GK you pick out of the series.

The Bad
One thing really got on my nerves while playing this game, and that is the witchy female voice that describes everything Gabriel looks or does. However, if you have a floppy version of a game, you'll be spared of that, but you'll also loose many addings.

The Bottom Line
I could never figure how many moves they make for a 2d character in this or such related adventure games, like "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade". Beside the usual walking and facing sides, oh, and yeah, shocking heads when talking (ckech Indy for that, lol), the characters also have some major actions they can do, like slipping, getting fired from the cannon, fighting, reading newspapers,... I mean, is that all in the character's level of actions, or separate aniamtion sequences, beats me. Anyway, something like that can really improve the final score in the game, as well as the sounds if well adjusted, and they are here, in this game.

Dialogues are made a bit different from the other adventure games, it's more like a new image appears with the two characters that talk and you have the stuff to ask/discuss about. Good thing is that you can set captioning while hearing it. I just love that option. Not many newer games have that things, sigh!

"Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers" can be a bit hard at some points, and illogical (not too sided) like "Monkey Island", but is mostly okay to play, with various of locations to visit and people to talk to. Beside your main place, New Orleans, you'll also visit Germany (more about that in TBW) and Africa. Yup, travellin's insurrance included. Try this game, and if you're any kinda adventurer, you'll ask for more and guess what, this time there really is 'more' and it stands in every sence of word, bigger, better, meaner, hehe, I sound like quoting the "Worms" now. Let me put it this way, there is absolutely nothing about this game to give you the slightest reason not to get it, unless you're a true hater to adventure games.

DOS · by MAT (241141) · 2012

One of the Few Great Gaming Stories

The Good
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father introduced anew level of story-telling to video games. For the first time, a game could have an elaborate, detail, adult storyline including a deeply trouble protagonist.

The cutscenes are amazing. Stylistically, they hold up even today. Presented in a quasi-comicbook mode, they truly moved the story along. Also, the fully animated cutscenes were similarly fantastic. And the video-captured moment where Gabe gets on his motorcycle -- in '93 this had me going!

The Bad
The windows 3.x version had a few nasty lock-up bugs. Patches became available.

Some of the conversations were long-winded. I recall the dialogues with Gabe's grandmother (while discussing family history) being a little much.

The Bottom Line
Gabriel Knight should be played by all adventure game fans. The game truly was the birthplace of artful storytelling in the video game world.

Windows 3.x · by Game22 (35) · 2004

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Wizo, chirinea, Alsy, deepcut, Scaryfun, Tobias Maack, Veniceknight,, shphhd, Parf, Tim Janssen, Patrick Bregger, Jeanne, Sun King, Crawly, WONDERなパン, Stelios Kanitsakis, Thomas Helsing, kelmer44, Tomas Pettersson, kurama, Riemann80.