The video game industry is, like fashion, an industry about trends. We’ve had the mascot-3D-platformer craze, the rise and fall of the music game, the saturation of fighting games in the arcades, and we are currently living the “first-person shooters are better than everything else” phase. But there was a time when point-and-click adventure games were kings, poster-child of what the medium could achieve in terms of narrative and character development. It was the early days of PC gaming and among the pack, one developer stood up tall above the others: Sierra Entertainment.
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, 20th Anniversary edition, is one of such games. Developed and released by Sierra during the golden era of the genre, Gabriel Knight’s story revolves around the titular Gabriel and his ongoing investigation of the violent crimes taking place all over New Orleans: the voodoo murders.
Over the course of ten days you’ll point and click your way through this murder-mystery story, solving puzzles, pulling pieces together, and inspecting and interviewing anything and everything that crosses your path. P.I. detective work is no piece of cake and you’ll have to make sure not to leave any clue behind and better be ready to jot down anything that catch your eye, the latter portions of the game will surely test your skill and resolve.
This being a remake of a 21 year-old game (the game’s title missing the mark by one year) you can expect technical improvements over its predecessor and quirk extras to round up the “Anniversary Edition” package. Environments and characters have been recreated in 3D, new animations and new puzzles have been added, plus a digital graphic novel narrating the events before Sins of the Fathers.
But the Gabriel Knight series is all about story, and Sins of the Fathers still deserves every bit of the recognition it received back in 1993. The voodoo murders storyline is compelling, carefully crafted and the plot beautifully delivered with each passing day and puzzle completed. Although there is one aspect of the narrative that could have benefited from an update: Gabriel himself.
Maybe back at the beginning of the 90’s it was easier to root for a protagonist as self-absorbed and sexist; from the first conversation with his assistant in the morning of Day 1, there’s nothing in his exchanges with women that doesn’t include some sort of sexual undertone. For today’s audiences, Gabriel might prove a hard pill to swallow.
All in all —aside from Gabriel’s “bravado” and a pair obscure puzzles nearing the end of the game— I enjoyed my time solving the mystery behind the voodoo murders. If you get a kick from point-and-click adventure games, or have ever fancied yourself as an amateur detective, I thoroughly recommend you to revisit this great classic.