Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father 20th Anniversary Edition

October 16, 2014

Jane Jensen is credited with writing some of the most ambitious and memorable adventure games of the 90’s, including King’s Quest VI and of course creating the Gabriel Knight series. Gabriel Knight would go on to have three games, each of which differed greatly in presentation and style, from the FMV-heavy The Beast Within to the early 3D-engine of Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned. However, the very first game, Sins of the Father, ran on a version of Sierra’s SCI engine, and looked like a traditional, 2D pixelated 90’s point-and-click adventure. It’s this game that Jensen has finally decided to update for the modern era, a little bit over 20 years since the game came out, in Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father 20th Anniversary Edition.

The story remains the same, following Gabriel Knight, a New Orleans native, novelist, bookstore owner, womanizer and charmer. While writing a book about his police friend’s adventures, he stumbles onto a string of Voodoo-related murders that awaken a calling in him, influencing his dreams. Gabriel’s discovery of his family legacy and his research into the supernatural forces behind the Voodoo murders intertwine, as the bodies pile up and the city gets weirder and weirder.

Sins of the Father’s story is often fondly remembered, and it still holds up well today, even if the many 90’s quirks such as phonebooks and an absence of computers are now a lot more noticeable. Gabriel’s quest seems aimless at the start of the game, but by the end you find yourself getting pulled into the mystery alongside the Cajun hero. Of note is still Grace Nakimura, Gabriel’s student bookkeeper and long-suffering assistant. Even today, when we should have moved well past including interesting female characters into games, her presence is refreshing in just how normal she is. Her help is necessary in several parts of the game, and while it’s true she’s not the main character, she’s a fleshed out person, not a love interest for Gabriel to conquer. While that role is filled by another, slightly more clichéd character, it’s still Grace who remains the more memorable of the main cast.


The 20th Anniversary Edition completely updates Sins of the Father’s presentation, recreating all of its backgrounds as pre-rendered HD backdrops, and replacing all characters and interactive objects with 3D models. The effect works well, retaining the point-and-click gameplay of the original, while providing a fresher, cleaner look. A weirder effect comes up whenever Gabriel talks to a character. Headshots of the two pop-up, showing still, painted images of the characters, which are animated by some kind of 3D manipulation or puppetry. The effect doesn’t look entirely natural, even if it is smooth and lip-synced. Animation can sometimes appear stilted, compared to the original’s 2D style, and occasionally I came across bugs as Gabriel clipped in and out of layers of the background.

Long-time fans who know the game off by heart will have to face slight remixes of some of the puzzles as well. On a couple of occasions, puzzles which required a simple item to be dropped off, or character to be spoken to, now have an extra couple of steps. By and large, most of the game remains the same, as you’re still allowed to progress with your investigation over the game’s 10 day period the same as always, but it’s enough to keep you on your toes.

The puzzles and gameplay still hold up because they rarely require you to perform inane tasks for little reward (Gabriel Knight 3 has a lot to answer for here). You always feel as if you’re adding to your knowledge of the investigation, and progression never feels difficult, but is usually earned through careful attention.


Included with the game is the accompanying Sins of the Father graphic novel, which also seems to have influenced the animated cut-scenes in the game, all of which take after a very comic-book like style. The graphic novel is a nice bonus, but should only be read towards the end of the game, as it provides interesting (and necessary backstory) to Gabriel’s family history, which is only fully revealed in later stages.

Sadly, the voice recordings from the original game did not stand the test of time, and all dialogue has been re-recorded with new actors. They all do a good job, but nothing can top the over-the-top cheese that Tim Curry ladled over the original game’s performance.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father 20th Anniversary Edition is nonetheless a fine adventure both for fans of the original game, and newcomers wishing to experience a classic. It’s still a cracking mystery, and Jane Jensen’s ability to research a location and immerse you in its culture is on full display here. Here’s hoping this title is a sign of things to come, and further Gabriel Knight adventures are finally on the way.


Still a great mystery | Well-written characters | Fine visual update


Technical hitches | Weird bugs

Overall Score: