Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition Review

Screenshot from Gabriel Knight Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition
Who needs a New Orleans tourist guide when you can just play Sins of the Fathers?

  • Developer: Phoenix Online Studios / Pinkerton Road Studio
  • Publisher: Pinkerton Road Studio
  • Release Date: 15 October 2014
  • Time played: 10 hours

I'm a big fan of Sierra point 'n' click adventure games and they're among some of the earliest games I ever played. I have fond memories of playing Space Quest II and Quest for Glory (or Hero's Quest). I also played the original Police Quest, King's Quest V and King's Quest VI. I even played Space Quest IV at a friend's place. Eventually, I would finally get around to playing many of the other adventure games by Sierra in due course, one of them being Jane Jensen's 1993 classic Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers.

Sins of the Fathers was different to other Sierra point 'n' click adventures I had played; the game was considerably darker and aimed towards a mature audience. The game's cinematic feel and the fact it was actually quite educational to a degree (I know a lot about the history of New Orleans now along with some of its landmarks) means it became one of my favourite adventure games and Jane Jensen, one of my favourite game designers.

I've played other games by Jane Jensen prior to playing the 20th Anniversary Edition of Sins of the Fathers including 2010's Gray Matter and last year's Moebius: Empire Rising - both are games I thoroughly enjoyed. Consequently, I was optimistic that the 20th Anniversary Edition of Sins of the Fathers would similarly be an enjoyable game, I mean if you're just doing a HD remake on an already classic game, how could you go wrong?

Plot (5/5)
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is set in the year 1993, when the original game first came out. You play the role of the eponymous Gabriel Knight, a small-time author and owner of a rare books store in New Orleans, U.S.A. Gabriel's best friend, Franklin Mosely, is a detective at the New Orleans Police Department (N.O.P.D.) who is investigating a case called the Voodoo Murders case and Gabriel wants to learn more about them, thinking the murders could make excellent material for his next book. As Gabriel gets closer to discovering the truth, not only does he come up against terrifying foes but he also learns more about his own heritage and destiny.

This is pretty much the same story as the original Sins of the Fathers (albeit with minor adjustments) and it's still just as great now as it was then. I also like how Jane Jensen always manages to make her games history lessons since you'll often see real-life landmarks in the game which you can learn more about; in the case of Sins of the Fathers you can visit Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, Lake Pontchartrain and St. Louis Cemetery #1 where famous voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau is buried. The game also covers a lot of the cultural aspects and religious beliefs of Voodoo so you really get a good dose of history and culture when playing Jensen's games. I also love the camaraderie and banter between the three main characters, Gabriel Knight, Franklin Mosely and Grace Nakimura – it's hard to pull off well but Jensen manages to ace it.

I also love the camaraderie and banter between the three main characters, Gabriel Knight, Franklin Mosely and Grace Nakimura – it's hard to pull off well but Jensen manages to ace it.

Gameplay (4/5)
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers is your typical point 'n' click adventure game, and besides some annoying quirks with the inventory system (which I'll talk about later) the rest of the interface is familiar and intuitive.

In terms of the game's puzzles, most of them are the same as puzzles from the previous games save for a few new additions and a welcome change to the infamous “snake scale puzzle" at the beginning of the game (which had you hunting for a pixel in a haystack). Most puzzles are rather logical and since I've already played the game before, I was able to solve almost all the puzzles with no help. However, there was one puzzle I had to resort to looking at the answer, which I really hate doing when playing point 'n' click adventure games since if you use the hints too many times, what's the point of playing it? This particular puzzle allows you to write a message, any message at all but there isn't any hint on what kind of message should be written or in what format. The number of possibilities is almost infinite yet you're supposed to know what to write! Ultimately, the answer I was supposed to write even used vocabulary I was not normally accustomed too, i.e. Voodoo terminology – so there would've been no way I would've guessed it. This reminds me of another Jane Jensen game called Gray Matter (which I mentioned earlier) where I was similarly stumped by one puzzle that again, I never would've got. So Jensen's managed to catch me out on two occasions now.

One choice feature of the 20th Anniversary Edition is that you're able to view Developer's Notes on each of the scenes in the game which includes audio clips, concept art, screenshots and commentary.

Sound (4/5)
Unfortunately none of the original voice actors could reprise their roles, but then again, many of them are pretty high profile actors such as Tim Curry, Mark Hamill, Michael Dorn, Leilani Jones, Leah Remini and Rocky Carroll. Voice acting in the game is generally pretty good, especially the performances by Telltale's The Walking Dead veterans Dave Fennoy and Cissy Jones. However, there are occasional slip-ups and some of the other voice actors managed to do a really good job of mangling the accents.

Music (5/5)
The game has essentially the same soundtrack as the original except now with live instruments and higher quality MIDI. I especially love the blues guitar heard in Dixieland Drug Store – it's so New Orleans.

Graphics (3/5)
The walking animations are still a bit shonky at times but it's definitely an improvement over Moebius: Empire Rising. There are also occasional graphical glitches in the game such as disappearing characters or scenes reverting to their low-res versions. Facial animations, on the other hand, are well done and are very convincing.

Replay (3/5)
The game is a decent length for a point 'n' click adventure as it took me about 10 hours to complete despite having played the original before. The game is also integrated with Steam so it has the usual Steam achievements and Steam trading cards to collect, meaning there's motivation to play the game a second time (in order to collect all the achievements).

Polish (4/5)
The game has a similar inventory system to Moebius: Empire Rising; that means I'm not a big fan. Basically instead of the traditional way of manipulating objects where you'd be able to drag and drop inventory items over objects in the room you need to first select an item in the inventory and then use the context menu in order to use the item. It's fiddly and totally unnecessary. However, considering that's my only real gripe in terms of the interface, the game is actually pretty well polished.

Score – 8/10

While I'm not a big fan of the interface that's the only real gripe I have with this game (besides the fact there's no Tim Curry). The music and graphics are now in higher definition yet you get to experience the same classic story and gameplay which originally came out more than 20 years ago. Recommended for fans of the original game and newcomers alike.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition is available from these retailers:

Is the game worth $19.99 USD?: Yes. The game has something for old and new fans.

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[ LINK: Official Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition Website ]