Schattenjäger! Gabriel Knight 20th Anniversary Remake

By John Walker on October 9th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Jane Jensen is awfully busy. Not only is she working on the rather promising Moebius, as well as other secret Pinkerton Road projects, but she’s just announced a 20th anniversary edition of the classic Gabriel Knight: Sins Of The Father. Indeed, the IP has been wrestled from the mad grip of Activision, and an extraordinarily well-loved game is getting a 21st century makeover.

There’s a decent change you haven’t played Gabriel Knight. These were the adventures of the titular character, a book shop owner who investigated paranormal goingsons. In this first game he’s exploring New Orleans to unravel the mysteries of a string of ritual voodoo murders. It was a classic early ’90s point and click adventure from the masters at Sierra Online, that was perhaps most striking for its mature content in a genre populated by cartoonish characters and fairytales. Knight was to become a “Schattenjäger” – shadow hunter – some sort of psychic connection to the case to add to the mysticism. And fancy his assistant, Grace Nakimura.

This is to be a total remake, it seems, programmed by the fine folk of Phoenix Online. Resolutions are leaping up from 640×480 to 2048×1536, and they’re saying the graphics will be 3D. That’s possibly the part that will concern loyal fans, but they say that’s just because it’s Unity, and it will play as 2D. It concerns me a little too, since Moebius’s significant weakness when I saw it was the 3D models for the characters, which were often dreadful – hopefully these too will be defiantly 2D in here. However, the story will remain the same, and most importantly, it will still be point and click.

All the voices are being redone, as the original recordings have been lost. So yes, that does mean that Gabriel will no longer be voiced by Tim Curry. BUM. It also menas that Mark Hamill, Leah Remini and Michael Dorn are also lost. Even more lost is narrator Virginia Capers, who died in 2004. (Although, in the nicest possible way, that does meant they can hire someone who speaks slightly more quickly so you don’t start putting an electric drill into the side of your head every time you look at something.) Jensen argues that even were it possible to gather that old cast, their voices will have aged 20 years while the characters’ will not. Also, they’d be pretty pricey. So new people it is.

It’s due out mid 2014, and presumably we’ll be seeing some in-game footage before long. Meanwhile, we have some scenery screenshots to show how it’s going to look.

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67 Comments »

  1. Meat Circus says:

    Having helped adventure gaming commit suicide once, she’s now determined to do it all over again?

    She’s not without ambition.

    • frightlever says:

      To be fair, adventure gaming is a niche so back whenever while more and more people were playing RTS and FPS games, adventure games weren’t increasing their audience and a BUNCH of adventure designers thought the problem was not enough FMV or 3D.

      Casual gaming has actually really broadened the user base and Daedalic etc are making accessible, fun games that pretty much anyone can get into. In fact these days no-one is giving the developers the kind of money to waste like they did back when the scene imploded so the excess can’t happen.

    • S Jay says:

      Gabriel Knight 1 was great, so, this is very positive – unless they manage to screw this up by changing a lot of content (Flashback, anyone?) this can be a very very good thing (Monkey Island remake, anyone?)

    • Deano2099 says:

      She didn’t design that puzzle.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      How, pray tell, did Jane Jensen “help adventure gaming commit suicide once”? If you’re obliquely referring to the terrible cat hair puzzle in GK3, you should probably be aware that Jane Jensen herself had nothing to do with that.

    • blackmyron says:

      That’s a rather odd assertion. Even if she was behind the “cat hair” puzzle (as someone else pointed out she wasn’t), GK3 hardly contributed to a decline in adventure games. And Sierra was notorious for some of the worst puzzles as well as being incredibly death-happy well before Gabriel Knight came on the scene – Gabriel Knight was one of the few bright spots in Sierra’s legacy.

    • facebook14 says:

      uptil I looked at the draft that said $4798, I didnt believe that my father in law was like trully bringing in money in there spare time on their apple laptop.. there mums best friend started doing this 4 less than 23 months and recently repayed the morgage on there home and got a top of the range Alfa Romeo. view publisher site http://www.max47.com

  2. kobadow says:

    Excellent! It already looks pretty special.

    This was my favourite adventure game after Monkey Island 2.

    • Trillby says:

      Here here. Although Grim Fandango might just slide into top spot for me.

      On a side note – am I the only one to remember the game looking just like it does in those new pics? Of course I’ll be wildly disappointed if I do go back and give it a proper replay. But I remember the shop looking just like that. Funny tricks the mind plays.

  3. Gassalasca says:

    Am I the only one who thinks Tim Curry was absolutely abysmal in Gabriel Knight?

    • Blue_Lemming says:

      Not his finest hour, which was clearly in the film “Congo”.

    • Premium User Badge

      DrScuttles says:

      Generally I prefer my Tim Curry to be visual, but not too abysmal.

      • Gassalasca says:

        For a moment there I was afraid no one would make the pun.

    • LionsPhil says:

      “What can you tell me about…voodoo?

      I thought he was pretty good at it. And honestly, just look at the list:

      Tim Curry; Mark Hamill; Leah Remini; Michael Dorn; Virginia Capers

      Even if you don’t lament Curry, that’s a hell of a lot of solid voicework to lose. I’d rather have the possibly-lower-quality recordings from the original than lesser actual performances, and it’s not like “voice” is the fussiest audio in the world when it comes to quality.

    • The_Player says:

      Wait, that was him voicing Gabriel? I had absolutely no idea and I loved his voice, still love to reproduce his voice when speaking some quotes of his (Don’t mind if I do).

      • yourmotherspeaking says:

        Tim Curry and the other voice actors brought the original to life. I can’t see how they’re going to compensate for that.

  4. Grey Poupon says:

    “All the voices are being redone, as the original recordings have been lost. So yes, that does mean that Gabriel will no longer be voiced by Tim Curry”

    Well, it also sort of means that a new sequel wouldn’t be voiced by different people than the remakes which’d be kind of nice. Haven’t been able to get the GK’s of old to work for ages, with any luck I don’t remember what it’s supposed to sound like.

    • Blue_Lemming says:

      Like Gambit from the cartoons, just insert “Mon amis” into every other sentence.

  5. povu says:

    The Longest Journey could do with a HD remake as well. That game has some beautiful locations but today 640×480 doesn’t look so good.

    • malkav11 says:

      Also it features a puzzling mix of gorgeous prerendered backdrops and truly dreadful low-poly early-3D characters that clashed badly even back in the day.

  6. Assaf says:

    Awesome. Tried to play it once, but couldn’t get past the begininng. Was kinda unclear what to do, and I didn’t have patience to listen to SO MANY dialogue. I think I gave up in a voodoo shop, there were so many conversation topics, I got tired of it.

    Maybe the remake will indeed be a little faster, prettier and tighter, so that’s great, as I wanted to play this classic.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      If the dialogue is what bothered you about Gabriel Knight, then that series quite simply is not for you at all. For me, if anything, I hope they expand on the dialogues from the original game with additional content.

  7. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    Also known as the only game in the series that doesn’t really need remaking.

    It would be great if Phoenix hired some decent 3D modellers and animators. Their 2D work is good enough, but the characters are dragging it down. Can’t see this surpassing the original, to be honest.

  8. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    Of all the games in the series to remake, remake the one that does need improvements the least. Makes sense.

    • Smion says:

      To be fair though, would [i] you [/i] want to be the one that has to remake that cat puzzle? Thought so.

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        RedViv says:

        The catstache is not to be remade. In fact, a remake could only improve upon its grand formula by adding even more ludicrous resources required

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        basilisk says:

        Why not? It would be an opportunity to put back the puzzle that was originally cut (see here).

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          phlebas says:

          That’d be nice – hopefully whatever it was that was too expensive at the time would be more viable with an updated engine (though the rest of that article contains a poisonous concentration of Old Man Murray’s fallacy).

          • Premium User Badge

            basilisk says:

            It most likely wouldn’t be a problem. The main thing to know about GK3 is that the studio has never done a 3D engine before (at a time when barely anyone did), and made a ton of very stupid mistakes early on that caused lots of headaches towards the end of development – things like baking all animations to specific models and solving pretty much every special case required by puzzle design with various dirty hacks. This made virtually everything more expensive than it had any right to be, and meant that making changes to anything that was already completed became nearly impossible. Even a semi-amateur studio like Phoenix Online wouldn’t make these kinds of mistakes today.

            If you’re interested in the game’s history, this postmortem is a must read.

    • Turkey says:

      They probably feel like they need to re-establish the character to new players before they can touch the other games. I kinda doubt that many people who aren’t already adventure game fans and already own the whole series will pick this up, though.

  9. Jekhar says:

    Does anyone know if they are planning on remaking the sequels too?

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      Depends on the reception of this one. It seemed to me Jane would prefer making GK4 instead, but it’s Activision’s call to make, not hers. She’s just licensing the IP.

  10. TheMasquerader says:

    I like the idea of a Gabriel Knight remake very much. I just hope it won’t be that colorful in the end. Too much rainbow is bad for the brain.

  11. belgand says:

    I can’t say I’m happy with the 3d model there at the bottom. And, well… going 3D was not a good thing for the 3rd game. Frankly, that was the big problem. The games kept trying to chase the latest fad in adventure games and that means we ended up with a FMV game and a not so great early 3D game. As others have said the better option is to remake 2 and 3 into 2D games instead. I passed on 2 because of the FMV and while I occasionally consider picking it up on GOG… no.

    • Premium User Badge

      phlebas says:

      You missed out – it’s one of the few properly good FMV games. A little overly linear, perhaps, and a couple of the puzzles didn’t seem entirely fair – but those issues aren’t exactly peculiar to FMV.

      • belgand says:

        Yeah, I’ve heard it often enough that it makes me consider playing it, but then I realize that even if it’s great I don’t want to play a FMV game. It’s inherently unappealing. Like audiobooks.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      It’s actually easily the best FMV game I’ve ever played, and it’s got IMO the best story in the series (that doesn’t get quite as ridiculous at the end as the other two). But yeah, it’s still very awkward.

    • drygear says:

      I went into the second one not sure if I’d like it because of the fmv, and it was definitely a turnoff at first and felt like the main character of this wasn’t the same Gabriel, but some chump they replaced him with. I came to really like it though. Perhaps more than the first. The actor who played Gabriel really grew on me and I liked the tone of the game- it was both elegiac and peaceful (especially in Grace’s sections).
      I think it’s a much better game for being fmv. Having actual actors helped me connect to the characters and I would say that out of the entire series this is the one where the characterization is the strongest.

  12. frightlever says:

    skim…. skim… skim… ahhhh. 2D. Phew.

    3D rendered backgrounds can be fine, my biggest gripe with the 3D games is that characters amble about the screen so slowly and tend to look ugly as sin.

    Never played a 3D adventure game that I stuck at for any length of time before I got frustrated with it and gave up, with the exception of Walking Dead, I guess, though it wasn’t really an adventure game more of an interactive story with branching decisions.

  13. SilverDrake says:

    Best news today.

  14. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Is Roger Moore still alive? Use him as the Curry replacement. Add many innuendii (innuendos? Innuendata?) so we can all hear the ‘eyebrow raise’.

    Don’t know who to replace Worf with though. I am tempted to say The Rock. Why not. The internet fallout would be entertaining.

    • Keyrock says:

      I’m sure all those actors would easily be covered by Pinkerton’s likely fairly meager budget. No doubt The Rock would work for pennies.

  15. Jonfon says:

    “decent change” -> “decent chance”
    “also menas” -> “also means”

    (Sorry, couldn’t help myself, I’m now filled with self-loathing (and a certain amount of Internet smugness which in turn is fueling further self-loathing))

  16. Laurentius says:

    So it’s twenty years, holly molly…
    But if we are at it, so how about 20th aniversary remake or something of a Bloodnet, it’s been 20 years as well. (one can always hope ).

  17. Premium User Badge

    tikey says:

    First Chris Roberts makes a new space sim without Mark Hamill. Now a Gabriel Knight without Mark Hamill. Also a new Batman game without Mark Hamill.
    Dark times indeed.

    • Premium User Badge

      jezcentral says:

      Don’t worry, they will all learn their lessons eventually. They’ve given up trying to make Star Wars films without him.

  18. Keyrock says:

    Awesome. The Beast Within was the best game in the series, but that one may be more difficult to redo, with all the FMV. More importantly, maybe, just maybe, this could eventually lead to Gabriel Knight 4.

    • Deano2099 says:

      I keep going back and forth on that – would it be loads more expensive to remake GK2 than 1? If they did it all FMV again?

      I mean with GK1, you have to re-do all the graphics but in loads more detail. With GK2, you’d just have to re-shoot to capture more detail in the scenes. And filming stuff has gotten loads cheaper these days, with digital and everything.

      • Premium User Badge

        Rikard Peterson says:

        If they have the original video footage for GK2, I’d love to see a HD version of it – I’d buy it at full price without hesitation – but otherwise I think they should leave that game alone.

        GK2 is one of my favourite games, but for some reason I’ve barely started on GK1. I have the GK1 disk sitting on my shelf, but I’d be likely to get this remake unless it gets bad reviews.

        GK3 could do with a remake. I’ve heard good things about it, but when trying the demo I couldn’t get past the ugly graphics, so I never bought it.

  19. Danda says:

    No Curry, no buy. Sorry.

    • Deano2099 says:

      People know Curry only voiced Gabriel Knight in two of the original three games right?

      • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

        Exactly. Dean Erickson still did an excellent job as Gabriel Knight in the second game, despite having the lamentable handicap of not being Tim Curry.

        As for the other voices, Mark Hamill only voiced Mosely in the first game. Mosely wasn’t even in the second game at all, and someone else voiced him in the third one. As for Leah Remini as Grace in the first game… meh, I can take it or leave it. She was portrayed by three different actresses in all three games, and all of them did good enough jobs. I personally preferred Joanne Takahashi from the second game, myself. It’s not like the original voice actors are the characters and everyone else is just a pale imitation.

    • PegasusOrgans says:

      The original release of GK had no Curry and was no less poor for it. An excellent game that deserves brand new fans and recognition.

  20. rodds says:

    Seems to me that bag has cement

  21. PegasusOrgans says:

    Besides Quest For Glory, Gabriel Knight was my fav Graphic Adventure series. It was quite mysterious and alluring. It gave you just enough to tease your interest to keep looking for more clues. Hell, the dream sequences alone mangled my teenage mind. Ahh, I am so damn thrilled for this. It’s as if I died and went to Video Game Heaven. Every fantasy I had for games is coming true! Watch, Baldur’s Gate 3 and Vampire: Bloodlines 2 get announced in a couple weeks.

  22. Scrobbs says:

    I remember GK (not sure which one) being one of the hardest games out there at the time. Am I up to the challenge? Not sure.

  23. tentacle says:

    I don’t really want a straight-up remake. I enjoyed the Larry remake, just as I will a GK remake. But these are still the 1st generation adventure gaming formula of “find stuff and where it goes to continue hearing the linear story”. Sure, it’s fun. But in the meantime, we’ve got companies like Telltale evolving adventure games into a format where it’s more a narrative-driven immersive experience that unfolds with you as an actor in it, instead of as an audience member.

    What I’d really love to see is GK put into a format like that, where you are the one who has to figure out the mystery and solution(1), instead of finding objects that click into slots which triggers exposition.

    (1 – Colonel’s Bequest was, imho, an amazingly innovative game way ahead of it’s time that attempted to do this, that nobody seemed to learn anything from.)