Most people probably remember the first time they sneaked into an 18-rated movie, or caught a glimpse of their first skin flick (if it was a ‘70s porno, chances were you came away scarred by the horrendous abundance of body hair). As a massive geek, I also remember the first ‘mature’ adventure game I ever played. It was Roberta Williams’ Phantasmagoria, a grisly romp filled with decapitations, disembowelments and even a lovely little rape scene that duly corrupted my fragile little 13-year-old brain.
Phantasmagoria was the first of many adult-oriented point n’ click games that turned me into the twisted gore-hound of today, but my favourite series by far was Jane Jensen’s Gabriel Knight trilogy. While the FMV-tastic second game and fully 3D third were classics in their own right, it’s Gabriel’s first outing that I played over and over obsessively. And two decades on, I’ve had the chance to complete it for about the tenth time - but now with a slick all-new presentation - thanks to the 20th Anniversary special edition.
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers sees the titular hero investigating a recent spate of voodoo murders in New Orleans as inspiration for his latest novel. The story is as dark as any we’ve experienced, but what makes it work is the obviously extensive research that Jensen put in. You’ll learn all about voodoo’s origins and how it came to be part of New Orleans’ culture, at one point even sitting through an actual lecture about the religion’s historical significance - but don’t worry if that sounds a little much for a game, as it really is fascinating stuff (even if Gabriel himself doesn’t think so).
Like those classic Sierra adventures, the tension soon ratchets up as Gabriel gets caught up in the mystery, and it’s perfectly possible to meet a grisly premature demise if you’re not careful.
This 20th anniversary edition isn’t just a quick n’ dirty cash-in, thankfully. Rather, the original game (which to be fair still stands up well despite its ageing graphics - grab it on GOG if you don’t believe us) has been lovingly remastered in almost every department.
First off, the audio has been completely redone, from the vocal talents to the glorious soundtrack. I love the old voice work, especially Tim Curry's gleeful drawl for Gabriel, and so it was a relief to hear that the new voices were respectful impressions of the originals.
It's also fantastic that top cop Mosely still calls Gabriel a 'wanker', for no real reason.
However, the real highlight here is the new soundtrack. All of the classic songs have been faithfully redone, still recognisable but brought to life in this modern rendition.
The development team has also rejigged some of Sins of the Fathers' gameplay, so while the bulk of the game will be very familiar to fans, there are occasional puzzles where new mechanics have been employed. These are well integrated into the game so new players won’t even notice them, while Gabe lovers will get a kick out of trying to spot them all.
We highly recommend Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition to anyone with the slightest interest in point n’ click adventures. Even if you just enjoy a dark supernatural storyline, there’s enough here to keep you entertained.