The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery
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 Unlike the first game, it is entirely controlled through point-and-click actions - all the icons have been replaced by a single cursor.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.
- תעלומת Gabriel Knight: החיה שבתוכו - Hebrew spelling
- 狩魔猎人2 - Simplified Chinese spelling
Credits (DOS version)
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Average score: 89% (based on 33 ratings)
Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 245 ratings with 12 reviews)
The Beast Within was the first interactive movie that I played, and this was at a time when big game companies like Sierra took advantage of CD-ROM technology. It is a very good game. In fact, it's far better than the interactive movies that were on offer. The game was directed by Will Binder, who worked on a series of documentaries and short movies, and GK2 was considered his big break. I think that this is the first and only Sierra game to be directed by someone outside of Sierra.
After stopping the voodoo cult operating out of New Orleans and recovering the talisman that his great uncle sacrificed his life for, Gabriel Knight (played by Dean Erickson) is now in Schloss Ritter, working on his Blake Backlash novel about the events that occurred two years before. He hears a knock on the door and finds out it is the local townspeople who, after being told he is the new Schattenjäger, ask him to investigate a werewolf attack that claimed the life of a child. After agreeing to help them, Gabriel stays at the farm just outside Munich where the attack took place. His investigation eventually leads to a hunt club run by a charming man named Friedrich von Glower (Peter Lucas). Having found out that Gabriel is a member of the Ritter family, von Glower welcomes him with open arms.
Later on, his secretary Grace Nakimura (Joanne Takahashi) joins him in Germany, feeling that she may be of use to him. She is disappointed to find out that she just missed Gabriel. However, once she learns that Gabriel's case involves werewolves, she does some research for him and finds out that the attacks date back to the days of King Ludwig II. I like how the story of Ludwig was modified slightly so that it involves werewolfry, and that leads to some more research, this time on Richard Wagner and his lost opera. Although I found most of the research boring, I was impressed at how that all came together at the end.
The game is divided into six chapters, with the player alternating between Gabriel and Grace until the last chapter where they have to play both. Each chapter is stored on the six CDs that came with the game, and this means that you have to do some disc-swapping unless you have the version from GOG.
The Beast Within comes at a time when Sierra decided to drop the point-and-click interface we all know and love, and replace it with a simplified interface where you only have one mouse cursor to interact with the environment. Although I found this approach annoying, I think that this is much easier for players new to the adventure genre. The inventory is accessed by clicking the icon on the right that looks like a duffel bag. Both Gabriel and Grace have their own items. Among the items Gabriel has at the start of the game is the tape recorder which has the ability to isolate pieces of audio and place this audio onto a blank tape. Doing this is necessary to solve the first puzzle of the game.
All the actors that appear in the game deliver good performances, and I was most impressed by Erickson's. He comes across as one of those types that tries to keep his cool even when he becomes involved in a heated argument, and he also has a sense of humor to go along with it. He said that if the rest of the GK games were interactive movies, he would star in all of them. I wish that was the case. Also, people praised him for his role via his Facebook page, but I'm not one of them.
The Beast Within uses FMV technology to display cut-scenes that are triggered when the player initiates some action or starts a conversation with one of the characters. I know that some players loathe watching the main protagonists open and close doors, write letters, walk into buildings, get in cars, etc., but this adds to the realism. There are movies at the beginning and ending of each chapter, and it's good that Sierra gives you the option of watching them again.
The locations that Gabriel and Grace visit in the game are actual locations, which also adds to the realism. The Munich Zoo (Thalkirchen) even has a wolf enclosure. When a game uses locations based on real-life ones, the gamer has to go over and see it for themselves. Just ask YouTuber IPKISS4LIFE.
The CD-quality soundtrack by Robert Holmes is excellent. Most of the soundtracks are unique to each chapter, and they blend in with the situations the player will deal with. I enjoyed listening to the orchestral versions of the music from the first game, as well as the music for the chase sequence at the end of the game. In fact, it is used as my ringtone. It makes you hurry up and answer the damn phone!
Speaking of the chase sequence, the whole thing is just one maze where you have to lure the antagonist into a certain room, done by closing certain doors. This is too difficult because once you close a door, you cannot open it back up. Furthermore, it is too easy to die by making a wrong decision.
The quality of the FMV is not that great. It uses QuickTime compression, and I have noticed audio static in some of the movies.
The Bottom Line
You don't have to play the last game in order to enjoy this one; there are hardly any references to it. As an interactive movie, it is very good. The excellent script helped cement Jane Jensen as the most high-profile storyteller on the planet. The soundtrack is also excellent, and the ability to play both Gabriel and Grace is a welcome relief, and this is carried over to the next game. The puzzles are not that hard to solve once you know what to do. If you’re a Gabriel Knight fan, then you’ll like this one. As an interactive movie, it is far better than Phantasmagoria and its sequel.
DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2017
Gabriel Knight 2 was, for a long time, a holy grail for me. It was that game I never did seem to get my hands on, but always wanted to play, since I loved the first game so much. I even played part three before I played this game. I love the first game, and I like the third, despite its flaws, but would I enjoy this, the series FMV de-tour?
First of all, there is a good story here, buried beneath layers of horrible graphics, disturbingly disgusting design and useless actors. If you're less picky about those things than I am, you might enjoy this.
The music is also pretty good, although a bit over the top at times. The special effects are, although just as bad as in Phantasmagoria, quite amusing to look at (but never ever scary).
This really should not have been an FMV-game. The video-sequences are horrible. They might have been fun to look at at the time the game was released. At that time the so called multimedia products flooded the markets. Useless cd-roms full of pixely and crappy videos and bad 3d-graphics. This development was soon revealed to produce hollow and quite crappy products and they soon started to dissapear.
The same goes for FMV-games. They were expensive to produce, sure, but the main reason they stopped making them was that they all sucked, and the audience soon discovered that, just as soon as the initial curiosity was settled.
Gabriel Knight 2 was just produced in the worst of times, and hence, a good game was fundamentally ruined. Just one look at Gabriel Knights butt-ugly shirt and you want to vomit. When he walks around, taking his time doing the simplest thing, because everything has to trigger horrible FMV-sequences of Gabriel opening doors, turning around, walking, etc. It's unbearable.
The absolute worst part, however, is the environments. The illusion that Gabriel is walking around in an actual, living world, is painfully absent. Instead, Gabriel floats around on pixely, badly rendered backgrounds that are so ill designed it looks like some three year old's doll house gone horribly wrong.
You might think I'm superficial to concentrate so much on things like graphics and presentation. Well, my friend, sometimes, the surface contains the biggest depths. Sometimes the look of something is what tells the story, or conveys the message. It's called supersurface, and Gabriel Knight 2 lacks every bit of it. All that's left are promises of what could have been.
The Bottom Line
A great game ruined by its choice of form. FMV-games never was, and will never be, anything but garbage. It's a disgrace.
Windows · by Joakim Kihlman (231) · 2008
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
Jane Jensen, the series' designer, has written a novelization of this game as well as one of the first game (Sins of the Fathers).
- 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
Related Sites +
A Jane Jensen Exclusive (Interview July 27, 1999)
with Dr. K. Wright of WomenGamers.com
GKII Setup for Windows XP
Gabriel Knight 2K
Custom GK installer and DVD-ROM image creator tools
Hints for Beast Within
Susan Niles wrote these great hints to help you solve GK2
Rosemary and Gordon's Walkthrough
Ruari Buchanan's Walkthrough
The Beast Within - FAQs & Guides
GameFaqs.com collection of walkthroughs and faq files
The Patches Scrolls
Download site for the Gabriel Knight II Patch 1.11
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Game added by Eurythmic.
Game added May 15th, 1999. Last modified November 18th, 2023.