Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers

1993 Sierra On-Line
Designed by Jane Jensen
Reviewed 1997 January 26

Rating +5 Linearity narrow, segmented
Reasonability reasonable Connectivity high
Difficulty difficult Relevance strong
Interface 3rd paned menu Real-time occasional

You are Gabriel Knight, a struggling author and struggling book store owner. Through researching your next novel, with the help of your old friend Detective Mosely, you become interested in a series of murders with a voodoo connection. Uncovering the evidence leads you all over New Orleans. You also learn something of your family history, and how it relates to the voodoo murders.

Your meddling earns you and your friends the attention of the voodoo killers. To stop them you'll eventually travel to Germany and Benin. The finale is back in New Orleans, where you discover the power of voodoo.

The presentation is typical Sierra: third person perspective, drawn cartoon background and animated characters. The graphics are not impressively beautiful, but they are effective. There are a few key animated videos, in roughly the same style as the game proper, which highlight key plot elements. The voice acting, lead by Tim Curry, is very good. The music score is often beautiful and never annoying. Overall, the presentation and interface draw you into the story.

The story is the main strength of the game. It is intriguing and exciting, and generously spiced with humour. I did not find the voodoo aspects frightening, but they were fascinating. There is a lot of detail to absorb: the CD space was not wasted on glossy graphics but used to improve the story and game.

There is an impressive flow of story, and quantity. The plots of many adventures can be written on a few pages; Sins of the Fathers could honestly fill up a novel. And it manages this without overly constraining your actions as a player. The challenges merge in smoothly with the story, so that it is often difficult to see where one challenge ends and the next begins.

There is a beautiful structure to the challenges. They are part of the story and environment, and flow smoothly together and along with the story. They are well integrated into the setting, not appearing as contrivances thrown in to slow down the player. There are a few questionable challenges, however, and one very annoying real-time challenge -- dodging zombies -- that disrupted the mood of the game, throwing me out of the story to back in front of my computer.

The individual challenges are generally of moderate difficulty. However, you must meticulously explore the world and rigourously interrogate everybody. You must manage a wealth of detail, making the game harder than a bare consideration of the challenges suggest.

This is one of the best stories told in the adventure game medium. There are a few warts with some of the challenges, but overall there is a good, large game to be played.

Beware! Here are some spoiler-ridden notes on the game. They're only recommended for people who have played the game and want to see some of my rationale for my evaluations.

Solution by me.

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