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The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery

aka: A Fera Interior: Um Mistério de Gabriel Knight, GK2, Gabriel Knight 2, Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within, Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within, TBW, Ta'alumat Gabriel Knight: Ha-Khaya she Betokho, The Beast Within: Ein Gabriel Knight Krimi, Un Mystère avec Gabriel Knight : The Beast Within
Moby ID: 118
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Description official descriptions

The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery is a direct sequel to Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, the first in the supernatural mystery adventure series telling the story of a bookstore owner and writer Gabriel Knight, the last offspring of generations of Schattenjaegers (shadow hunters), whose task is to fight the evil forces that abound in the world.

After leaving New Orleans, Gabriel moves to the Ritter Castle in Bavaria, Germany, his family heritage. One day, a group of peasants approach the castle, and the elder tells Gabriel about a terrible death of a little girl, who was killed by a vicious wolf. Suspecting the wolf could be a supernatural creature, the peasant asks the Schattenjaeger to purge the evil. The investigation brings Gabriel and his assistant Grace Nakimura to the mysterious Hunter Society and to Bavaria's dark past.

The game utilizes a cast of live actors and full-motion video technology: the actors are filmed over photorealistic images of Munich and its surroundings, and nearly every interaction with the environment leads to a FMV sequence. Despite its visual style, The Beast Within is not an interactive movie, but a full-fledged adventure game with many dialogues, detective work to do, and puzzles to solve. Unlike the first game, it is entirely controlled through point-and-click actions - all the icons have been replaced by a single cursor. Both Gabriel and Grace are available as playable characters during different chapters of the story.

Spellings

  • תעלומת Gabriel Knight: החיה שבתוכו - Hebrew spelling
  • 狩魔猎人2 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

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Main Themes Composed by
Opera Sequences Composed by
Additional Orchestration and Arrangement by
Opera Libretto Written by
Opera Lyrics Performed by
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 89% (based on 33 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 247 ratings with 12 reviews)

More good than bad things

The Good
It was a fantastic idea. I hope Sierra would release another game like that in future (well G.K. III was bad; they made it more action than adventure... and the serie should stay on adventure side). The voice was great quality, images are clear and game is long and complex. There are lots of places to visit and lots of people to meet and trick. The story was really cool. I like those which are not about some weird aliens, but more close to human, more realistic. This game was unreal only about werewolfs (which actually don't exist; or maybe?). It was so good that I had to play it once more and I'm sure I'll do it at least once in future.

The Bad
Bad things were more technical problems. The game is on 6 CD's and it's annoying when you need to change CD's in the middle of the game. They've also fooled it when you need to insert a new CD, play intro animation and then change back to previous CD etc. Also the animations could be a bit more colourful (they're only in 256 colors). And maybe one more thing was annoying. When the speech should begin, it played for a moment somewhere in the middle of it, and then begin the same time with animation normally.

The Bottom Line
It's really great game and I recommend it to everyone who likes adventure games, puzzle solving games and/or watch animations. It has lots of them and they're long. Animations were taken with cameras and were not drawn (only 2 or 3 animations maybe - of many).

Windows · by frin (107) · 2015

A gripping story and a true achievement

The Good
Jane Jensen proves herself to be one of the interactive fiction authors to grace the business with the second entry in her supernatural suspense series. Reprising the role of reluctant paranormal investigator Gabriel Knight and eventually his assistant Grace, the player unveils a serial killing coverup involving escaped zoo wolves and historical lore.

Jensen does an amazing job of blending the supernatural in with thoroughly researched local flavor to make otherwise cheesy concepts (werewolves, in this case) terrifyingly believable.

GK2 ditches the original's hand-painted backdrops, rotoscope animation and cut-panel cinematics for the then-trendy "interactive movie" approach. Where almost every other game in the subgenre failed spectacularly, The Beast Within remains the definitive FMV game. The acting, while still sub-par for Hollywood, is tolerable at worst enthralling at best. While Dean Erickson leaves some to be desired as the titular hero, famous Polish actor Peter Lucas delivers an outstanding performance as the charismatic Baron von Glower.

While the blend of green-screened actors and photo-backdrops can at times be cheesy, the gorgeous Bavarian countryside makes a melancholy and atmospheric backdrop for the story, which incorporates centuries old political intrigue, psychosis and legitimate historical mysteries into its modern gothic core.

The two-character dynamic adds a level of depth and variety to the game. While Gabriel intuitively stumbles through the modern, empirical aspect of the mystery in the big city, Grace handles the metaphysical research end in the countryside, visiting museums, libraries and castles while uncovering historical parallels. Each subplot adds to the character development and movie-pacing of the game which other adventures lack.

As with the first, or perhaps more than, the music is a beautiful standout. Robert Holmes' moody piano anthems and suspenseful incidental pieces compliment the visual style perfectly, climaxing in a thoroughly-convincing Wagnerian opera, complete with German libretto.

The Bad
While it remains a prime example of the FMV genre, it still retains some of the inevitable cheese that comes with hiring D-list actors. Dean Erickson is unrecognizable as the character introduced in the first game. Gone is the sexist machismo and rakish Southern charm, replaced with an all-purpose perpetually-confused expression and an abysmal (and high-pitched) attempt at drawl. As an original character, Erickson does an admirable job, but he clearly has no idea what the character of Gabriel Knight entails. Same goes from Joanne Takahashi as Grace. For the first half of the game, Grace is bitterly disagreeable, but Takahashi's pass at cattiness isn't even passable for a soap opera. The performance picks up stride later on, but the two leads are the most cringe-worthy performances throughout the game.

The game is entirely linear. Probably because of the budget and technological constraints inherent with trying to coincide two opposing art forms, there are virtually no alternative solutions to puzzles or superfluous subplots. The game plays pretty much exactly the same each time, which means it really only artfully masks the core problem with the interactive movie genre -- it's better suited as a movie.

The Bottom Line
Ok, so there are flaws, and some of them might typically be considered to be critical, but in this case, they get a pass. The Beast Within is the best-written adventure game of all time. The story, pacing, music and atmosphere make this a must-play, and and it's certainly worthy of its contention for greatest adventure game of all time.

Windows · by jTrippy (58) · 2008

The epitome of a good full motion video game? Not even close.

The Good
So Gabriel Knight 2 is the pinnacle of full motion video (FMV) games? Hand on heart, guys, how many FMV games have you played? Few? I thought so. Don't worry, that's nothing to be ashamed of. Most of the playable movies were trash. Among that company, Gabriel Knight 2 certainly shines. But being the one-eyed among the blind doesn't make you the eye specialist.

Gabriel Knight 2 has some pretty obvious flaws. But first, let me name the obvious strengths. Designer Jane Jensen has once again compiled ancient legends into an intriguing and pleasingly credible mix of horror and suspense. The adventure is well placed in Bavaria, Germany, an area were modern and traditional life are only a few cobblestones apart. Jensen succeeds well in tightening the plot; acting alternately as Gabriel or Grace and thus tying up the knot from both ends of the rope is a clever gameplay idea.

As a resident of Munich, the city in which a large part of the game takes place, I had the added joy of recognition. It's really nice to re-explore your home town in a computer game. And of course, the myth of king Ludwig is known to any child here in Bavaria.

The Bad
Much is wrong with Gabriel Knight 2, and sadly, the mistakes spoil a lot of the otherwise quite thrilling atmosphere.

I won't elaborate on the puzzles, as any GK 2 player knows that there are a few very nasty situations. Don't know what I'm talking about? Maybe "tape splicing" or "cuckoo clock" will ring a bell. Any game that features a hide-and-seek labyrinth part has eternally lost all chances for puzzle design praise anyway.

Much more important, and much graver, is The Beast Within's lack of tempo. As anything you do is represented by video sequences, you have to watch a lot of footage. Now, if you trigger any action, what happens in the movie this:
a) Gabriel stares at object for three seconds to signify gravity of upcoming action
b) Gabriel interacts with object (i.e. picks it up, stares at it)
c) Gabriel finishes action, remains lost in thought for three seconds to ponder deed and signify mystification
A lot of staring, a lot of silence, and if you cut out all the seconds in which nothing much happens, the game would be half as long. And half as boring.

Jane Jensen is a talented writer; as such she should have known about the importance of pace and flow. Dramatic tension in due honor, but I if it takes Gabriel half a minute just to enter his car, then trust me, it's not that thrilling. In fact, it's unnerving.

Whoever cut GK 2 deserves public humiliation. Thanks to a just god, at least the actors already got it. Their incompetence is burned in silver for anyone to see. Third class at best and hired for their looks, none of the main characters (especially not the G-names) are convincing, let alone good. Good at anything but staring, that is. Oh, and smirking. Yes, definitely smirking.

Most of those flaws are of a technical nature, and they can be tracked to one source: the use of full motion video. Gabriel Knight 2 is not a good FMV game. In fact, it is even one of the prime examples on how the combination of the two media does NOT work. Sierra tried to force the new technique into an old-fashioned mold completely unsuited to it. When they should have made a movie with puzzles, they tried to make a game with video sequences. Gabriel Knight 2 was meant to be an old-school adventure. It wasn't allowed to be. I dare say it would have been a much better program in classical style.

The Bottom Line
Gabriel Knight 2 is an honorable attempt to merge computer game and movie, but it is ultimately a failure. Neither strong as a game due to weak puzzles, nor strong as a movie due to lack of speed and talented actors, it remains a mediocre bastard.

DOS · by -Chris (7762) · 2001

[ View all 12 player reviews ]

Trivia

1001 Video Games

The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Development

The Beast Within was originally intended to take place over the course of nine chapters instead of six. The additional three would have had the player shift into the past in order to play as King Ludwig II. These chapters were ultimately cut from the game due to time constraints, budgetary limitations, and the fact that this would have required even more CDs for a game that already requires six discs.

The game's backgrounds were created from photographs taken on location in Germany.

German language

Most Germans in The Beast Within are played by American actors. They thus speak German with a bemusing English accent. In the completely localized German version of the game, quite a few "German" characters have a notable American accent, which is even stranger. Additionally, because Gabriel and Grace speak German in the localized version, the translators had a problem in dealing with scenes in which one of the protagonists speaks to a German and doesn't understand him. The problem was solved somewhat half-heartedly by suggesting that Gabriel and company speak High German, whereas the locals speak in a Bavarian dialect.

German version

When the game was first released in Germany it was the un-dubbed and un-subtitled version which had a few scenes censored (for example, a character sitting in his cave and eating flesh from a human bone). The screen would go black and instead of being able to see what was happening the player would instead see a short message on the screen in German simply describing the scene. When the game was later released in its localized German these scenes were uncensored.

French version

Though the game was greeted with excellent critical reviews in France by the time of its release, the French-dubbed version is now quite infamous for its supposed mediocrity, despite being the work of a professional dubbing team. Among the numerous recriminations against the French version, one of the most famous is that you can actually hear several times the dubbing actors making mistakes while reading and then deciding to start again without any kind of editing.

Inaccuracies

  • In the game's opening movie, the camera shows a close-up of a scar on Gabriel's arm (acquired in Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers). The scar is on the wrong arm.
  • There is no sign of the chapel in Schloss Ritter that featured so prominently in Sins of the Fathers.
  • When Grace browses the part of the Schattenjäger library that is supposed to contain books on the occult, she finds a book on Lycantrophy between volumes with such German titles as Das Nest and Der Arzt von Stalingrad. These are novels without any relation to occultism.
  • On looking at a window display of watches in Munich, Gabriel claims that he can't stand wearing things on his wrist. In a later scene, a watch is clearly visible on his arm.
  • German Volkswagen Golf keys have a standardized look. The car key that Gabriel carries around in his inventory will unlock anything except the Golf he drives. His car also has no license plate.
  • Even though Grace doesn't speak German, she has no problem reading loudly from Cosima Wagner's diary, which was most likely not written in English.
  • In the book Lore and Law it is said that in Brazil there's a priesthood society called "Manos Del Sol" (Hands of the Sun). But the language spoken in Brazil is Portuguese, and "Manos Del Sol" is in Spanish. The correct name would be "Homens do Sol", as is seen in Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned, when Gabriel researches the same subject on SIDNEY, the computer database of shadow hunter data.

Actors

Kay Kuter (Werner Huber) seems to enjoy playing the role of a bartender; he also plays one (Griswold Goodsoup) in The Curse of Monkey Island.

Novel

Jane Jensen, the series' designer, has written a novelization of this game as well as one of the first game (Sins of the Fathers).

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • June 1996 (Issue #143) – Game of the Year
    • November 1996 (15h anniversary issue) - #17 in the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #10 Hardest Computer Game
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #7 Most Memorable Game Villain (Fredrick von Glower)
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #4 Most Rewarding Ending of All Time
    • November 2003 (Issue #232) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
  • PC Gamer
    • April 2005 - #33 in the "50 Best Games of All Time" list

Information also contributed by -Chris, Adam Schoales, Alan Chan, chiriniea, Foxhack, PCGamer77 and Swordmaster

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Eurythmic.

Macintosh added by chirinea. DOS added by MAT.

Additional contributors: Trixter, MAT, Adam Baratz, Unicorn Lynx, Jeanne, The cranky hermit, formercontrib, Zeppin, Dudujones, Patrick Bregger, FatherJack, RetroArchives.fr.

Game added May 15, 1999. Last modified January 23, 2024.