Reviews: Gabriel Knight

Two spectacular games...and that other one

Gabriel Knight was probably the most mature of Sierra's adventure game offerings. I don't mean a "titties and beer" style like the Leisure Suit Larry games; I mean, it was intelligently written, delved into serious topics with respect, and featured a morally-challenged main character. It was also one of the few series I can name to span three entirely different Adventure Game subgenres, and did two of them wonderfully.

The first Gabriel Knight was a straight 2D point-and-click game. Gabriel Knight, a wanna-be author with a struggling used book store, is investigating the Voodoo Murders, a series of killings rocking New Orleans. At first, he just wants to find some material for his book; before long, however, he gets sucked into an ancient conspiracy involving his family's history as Schattenjägers (modern-day witch hunters). The game was perfectly constructed, with challenging puzzles, an incredibly moving story, and a great protagonist in Gabriel. It also had Mark Hamill as Detective Mosely, so that's a plus.

The second game, The Beast Within, was a Full Motion Video game, and unlike Sierra's other outing, was an awesome title. Gabe has taken on the job of Schattenjäger, has moved to Germany, and is trying to write his next book. He is then approached with a new case: a farmer's daughter was murdered by what he thinks is a werewolf. Meanwhile, Grace Nakamura, Gabe's long-suffering assistant, decides she wants in on the fun and heads for Germany. Gabe investigates a hunting club in Munich, while Grace pieces together the history of Ludwig II and his connection to the "Black Wolf." Despite the genre's limitations (interaction was minimal, and the acting ranged from great to So Bad Its Good), it succeeded at telling a compelling tale.

Then came Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned. This time the game was in full 3D...and pretty damn bad 3D, even for the time. Gabriel and Grace are asked to look after a lord's baby...which they botch immediately when vampires kidnap it. Gabe chases them to Rennes-le-Château, where he and Grace discover a link to the bloodline of Jesus. So bad, it laid the finishing blow to adventure games. Just mentioning the cat puzzle can incite adventure game fans to riot.

In short, play the first two, avoid the third.