Like any good movie monster, a cult classic is hard to keep down. Just when you think you’ve seen the last of it, it’s back for more. The groundbreaking “Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father” paired a spooky supernatural murder mystery set in New Orleans with brainy puzzles that put the player in charge of the case. Popular demand has brought the game back from the dead in the form of a gorgeous remake available on PC and Mac.
The first game in the series, “Sins of the Father,” was released in 1993, and was followed by two sequels. Series writer and designer Jane Jensen said that fan demand is what inspired her team to remake the much-loved original game 20 years later in the form of “Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father 20th Anniversary Edition.”
“It’s always surprised me that people still knew the name Gabriel Knight and that it was still the first thing they thought about when I talked to anybody. It’s always been curious to me how that game has sort of lived beyond the boundaries that you would normally expect … and I’ve gotten lots of really nice feedback from fans saying how much they’re enjoying experiencing it again,” Jensen said.
The remake boasts updated graphics, remastered music from Jensen’s composer husband, Robert Holmes, and enough new puzzles and dialogue options to pump some fresh blood into the old favorite.
“We took the approach of wanting to keep the original intact, but to add in new spices and surprises for people who really knew the original game,” she said.
The titular hero Gabriel Knight is a roguish writer who gets in over his head after he begins investigating a series of murders. The player will see the case through his eyes, collecting clues, questioning cops and socialites and digging deep into dangerous secrets.
“Initially he is a down-on-his-luck pulp horror writer who also owns this used bookstore in the French Quarter in New Orleans … and he’s wanting to write a new book based on these murders they’ve been having in the city that seem to be voodoo-related … but as the story goes along you learn that it’s not that simple and he has some personal ties to the case that involves his family history and all sorts of interesting things.”
Players will be able to explore New Orleans as well as Gabriel’s dark past. The game starts in the French Quarter, but with clues leading all over the city. Jensen admits that she had never been to New Orleans when she first wrote the game, but you would never know it from actually playing.
“I didn’t (visit New Orleans) at the time because it was ’93 and this was my first game, so I really didn’t have the budget or the prestige to demand to be sent on a research trip or anything. I have since been to New Orleans, but at the time I had to base all my research on whatever I could find.”
When Jensen joined Sierra On-Line more than 20 years ago, the thought process that birthed what would become a cult classic was simple enough: She wanted to do something different.
“Well, when I had a chance to propose an adventure game to Sierra I knew I wanted to do something like a paranormal mystery series … there weren’t a lot of those sort of darker horror games out for PC at that time …and I also wanted to do a mystery series because it’s much easier to develop natural puzzles if your main character is investigating a mystery.”
The reception to the 20th anniversary version of “Gabriel Knight” has been warm, just like the original. It’s a gratifying feeling for Jensen, who thinks that this kind of game can draw in both the hardened gamer and someone who normally doesn’t play them.
“Over all the years I would get letters like this, ‘I’m a huge gamer and my girlfriend always hated that I spent all this time gaming, and then I got Gabriel Knight … and she took over my computer and I couldn’t get her back!’ It does appeal a lot to the non-traditional gamer.”