Wot I Think: Gabriel Knight 20th Anniversary

Okay, so this is a bit of a long shot, but... fus ro dah?

Well, 21st Anniversary really, but who’s counting? Gabriel Knight 20th Anniversary Edition is a chance to return to 1993 to re-experience the Schattenjager’s first case, but has it stood the test of time? Note to anyone who hasn’t played it, this is mostly going to be looking at the game as a remake rather than as a brand new adventure. Some spoilers inevitably lurk within.

To my mind, there are two good reasons to do a remake. The first, which pretty much never happens, is when a game had an idea that it just wasn’t able to pull off at the time, like, say, the original Space Quest. The second is when the world has moved on to the point that all you can see are cobwebs, such as happened with the original Quest for Glory. There are other reasons of course, not least making a quick buck off old IP from a dark vault, but they’re the ones I can get behind.

Gabriel Knight simply isn’t a game that needed a do-over. It’s one that easily fits in the category of ‘classic’ rather than simply ‘old’, with artistry that still absolutely stands up. The interface is a bit clumsy. The graphics are a touch blocky. The narrator single-handedly stretches the playtime from a few hours to something approaching the half-life of Bismuch-209 unless you switch her off, which you should absolutely do. Get past that though, which takes a few minutes max, and what you’re left with isn’t simply a great adventure in terms of the story and writing that it always gets very justifiable praise for, but one that I’d argue shows Sierra as a whole at its creative peak.

Really, go back. Look at the original. The choice of colour palettes; cold but comfortable blues against bright and chaotic orange. The incidental animations. The rich texture of the backgrounds. The claustrophobia. I won’t say it’s perfect, but it’s an adventure I feel comfortable pointing to and saying that everyone involved brought their A-Game. Well, maybe whoever originally tried ripping off the Forever Knight titles phoned it in just a tad. But the rest? Golden.

It'd be awkward if it turned out that the baddies already control the entire city and all the important people therein, ultimately making all this voodoo stuff completely pointless as anything except a hobby that must be really hard to explain to the people who work in the offices down in the honfour and presumably have to send each other memos and chat around the water cooler and stuff.

20th Anniversary doesn’t come close to living up to that. It’s a passionless, jobbing remake that shoots for adequacy and generally hits it, celebrating the original primarily by highlighting just how good we had it back in 1993. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s fine. Fine. It’s the same basic game, and that game holds up incredibly well, considering – certainly more than, say, the first Leisure Suit Larry. Really, if what puts you off Gabriel Knight is its graphical resolution, then consider this one your Schattenjager in shining armour. The new voices are basically decent, if unsurprisingly inferior to the first game’s star-studded cast, most of the graphics are okay, it’s nice to have a better quality version of the soundtrack to replace the old MIDI one, and the new interface certainly makes it a much easier game to get into than the original, with its million verbs, pixel hunting, and deaths that actually kill you dead whether you saved lately or not. It’s a smoother experience, to be sure.

That jump has its price though, including a move from sprites that actually feel like they’re part of the backgrounds to models that sit on top of them, and an odd lack of atmosphere despite the artists having far more tools at their disposal. The original Gabriel Knight shot for a graphic novel type world of cold and dark, which went a long way toward hiding the fact that honestly not that much actually happens in it for about a week of game time, and even then, the villains are the most laid-back voodoo cult in the history of fiction. This one goes for higher fidelity, which makes for some genuinely lovely areas, like Gabriel’s bookshop and the voodoo museum, but also a lot of flat ones and a general lack of emotion where it should be pushing a sense of style and quiet menace.

While none of them are a big deal individually, it also doesn’t take long to notice that most of the incidental details have simply been thrown out. Grace, for instance, no longer has her conservative brown skirt, but has switched to easier to animate jeans. Gabriel can no longer climb the ladder in his bookshop. When the police leave the first crime scene, it’s off-camera. There’s no longer the repairman fiddling with the thermostat in the police station, just a Post-It note saying not to fiddle with it. Gabriel no longer hugs his grandmother when he visits her. Now, sure, there are good reasons not to bother with these things, especially as a lot of it would be tricky for the 3D models or require a lot of work creating one-time assets. Going back to the original after playing this though just reinforces how much more soul it squeezed out of pixels than its remake ever manages with polygons.

Hands, Gabe. Hands.

On a wider level though, the art is mixed. The characters aren’t great, and nor is their animation. A bigger issue though is the number of clunky backgrounds where scenes designed to be tight and confined letterbox locations have simply been blown up to iPad friendly 4:3, without enough consideration always given to whether or not they actually work in that context. You can’t turn a TV show into a movie simply by blowing up the film, but that’s what 20th Anniversary tries, as well as liberating itself from the limited VGA palette without seemingly appreciating what it contributed to in terms of mood and atmosphere and character. Limitations are not always a bad thing.

This isn’t necessarily something that comes across in a single screenshot or two, but the global art direction is definitely something of an issue here. In particular, while individually most scenes look good, there’s little consistency. Most backgrounds feel like they were made in isolation and to order, with little care given to an overall style, or ways that modern technology could take these designs from 1993 and reimagine them rather than simply recreating them. It’s not like we don’t have modern technologies like particles and lighting to push the mood in ways that were unimaginable in an era of blocky sprites and scanned backgrounds. There’s some of that on offer here, yes, such as light beams and dust, but not enough. Everything that felt gritty and moody in 1993 now feels static and sterile, and most problematically, harmless. 20th Anniversary takes Gabriel Knight from being an Angel Heart inspired supernatural horror to a nice quiet amble around New Orleans.

One big, big, big exception to this criticism is the new graphical novel cutscene style. This is fantastic, going from the simple panels and very limited animation designed for the original floppy-disk game to a new, dynamic, gorgeously done motion comic style. I confess, I didn’t have high hopes for them. The first one, at the lake, is bloody awful and totally misses the intended emotion. That turned out to be the only dud though. The rest offer some of the best individual changes and improvements the remake has to offer, with a sense of life and expression and style that greatly improves on the originals. In particular, in a game that all too often lacks it, they explode in moments of genuine passion, making full use of fire and splatter and cinematography in well-directed sequences that both work well as direct replacements for the original panels, and as perfectly effective alternatives to other scenes. The ceremony on St. John’s Eve is an example of the latter – portraying it in the graphical novel style avoids a lot of custom animation and modelling, and allows for the characters to be powerful and expressive in ways the 3D figures never even get close to elsewhere.

In short, much applause deserved there. If only the whole remake had so much fire in its belly.

Okay girls, remember, no boobs. Yeah, yeah, I know, but we're trying to get on App Store here. Everyone report to Brother Eagle for your snake-bra.

Again, Gabriel Knight 20th Anniversary is basically Gabriel Knight, and Gabriel Knight is a worthy adventure. Phoenix has however done some fiddling around and reworking and even adding bits, and some of those changes are definitely for the better. Schloss Ritter for instance is no longer a Disney cartoon version of a German castle, but something far closer to the modern European style of Gabriel Knight 2, with its caretaker Gerde now sitting behind a table and doing the books instead of sitting in a maid uniform peeling potatoes. Excellent. Worthy change, well implemented.

And that’s not the only one either. It’s now much easier to find the snake scale on the lake. There’s a brand new ‘horror’ sequence thrown in that’s a little out of the game’s normal style, but I thought worked quite well at making the villains a little scarier. Being able to hit the spacebar to see all hotspots pop up makes the research section of the game much more fluid. If you don’t already know the game backwards, the hint system is also going to be welcome, doling out each clue on a timer to encourage you to take the next step, and with Gabriel’s journal both hinting at objectives and providing a recap of what’s happened so far. These additions unquestionably make the game much more fluid and less frustrating, without at all dumbing it down or diminishing its charm.

Unfortunately many of the other changes are sloppy at best. Mistaking Gabriel’s detective character, Blake Backlash, for his pen-name and then spelling it wrong. Jokes about Gabriel’s hair that don’t work now he’s gone from short and spiky to long and leonine. Streamlining the flow so that locations only appear when they’re needed (which I can accept, even if I find it makes the world feel a lot more like puzzle locations than a place that Gabriel actually lives in), but then giving no thought to how to actually introduce them. Cue silliness like the Napoleon House bar having to be unlocked by the guy you meet there, Sam, having conveniently taken out a front page advert in the newspaper to announce that anyone who needs jewellery work done should come see him. There. In a bar.

While we're on this subject, the second day's newspaper decides to devote its front page to a walk around Jackson Square... in the middle of a voodoo related murder spree. The Slow News Day defence doesn't exactly play there! Seriously everyone, it's not THAT hard to knock out a fake newspaper front page that isn't terrible. Would you draw your title screen in Microsoft Paint? If not, spend the five minutes here too.

Ngggh. That’s just so lazy, and bizarrely unnecessary given that Gabriel is a regular there… the bartender says so… and so having him just drop in earlier would be totally justified.

Again, like most of the problems with 20th Anniversary, these things don’t matter all that much in themselves. They’re nit-picks. After a point though, little things start to smack of a lack of care and attention that runs depressingly deep throughout, which is all the more obvious in a remake of a game noted for having so much blood and sweat poured into it that its boxes shipped damp.

If you smirked, you lost.

It’s the added content that’s the real disappointment though. As good as Gabriel Knight’s story is, in many ways it very much shows its age and there’s a lot of stuff that could have done with a little touching up. The whole thing hinges on a love story, for instance, between Gabriel and rich socialite Malia Gedde, but the execution of it is fairly weak. (Really, it more or less boils down to him lying his way into her house, then shaking her while shouting “ADMIT YOU LOVE ME! YOU LOVE ME!” until she agrees – helped along more by destiny dictating they get together than any smooth moves on his part). That could have been built on or reworked a little maybe, especially as Jensen has spent the last few years writing romance novels. Or alternatively, there’s plenty of scope for things like interactive flashbacks, new avenues of exploration, more villain presence, or a reworking of bits that many people would probably be happy to see changed, like the interminable snake mound.

20th Anniversary changes… none of that. Well, one cutscene for the voodoo cult. Nor does it make any effort to smooth out some of the problematic bits that were there before, like how easy it is to miss what annoys the snake in the voodoo museum. All the rough edges are treated as sacrosanct, with the exception of anything that might interfere with the iPad version the “streamlining”.

Man, in twenty years there'd totally be an app for this.

What does it add? Ghastly new puzzles. They’re described in the bonus features as being intended as “surprises” for returning players, and yes, they are, in much the same way as a rattlesnake in your toilet or half a worm in your apple. You know what no adventurer has ever said? “Gee, this game is a classic, but it’s missing something! I know! Sliding blocks!” And you know why? Because the target market for adventures is not brainless shit-whippets! Nevertheless, to play Gabriel Knight 20th Anniversary is to walk into the Schattenjager library – yes, still locked, requiring a fucking dream dragon to let you in – and find that their real secrets are now hidden behind a jigsaw puzzle.

'Only one in possession of honour and intellect shall be permitted into this sacred chamber.' 'Or dynamite.' 'Yes, that will be way easier.'

Phoenix, Pinkerton Road… just go stand in the corner. That corner. Right now.

Actually, no, wait. Hold on a moment, because I’m not done. While that’s absolutely the most banal of the additions, it’s not actually the worst. As tempted as I am to go through them one by one and explain in great detail why everyone involved should be beaten around the face with a wet halibut, every single new puzzle added is both amateur hour garbage and tonally inappropriate.

I mean, seriously, come on. This is Gabriel Knight, a series that’s never exactly been hailed for its puzzles. Its charm is its character, its texture, its research, and other things that should be bread and butter with jam on top for an adventure game. There could have been deeper dives into the voodoo side, code breaking using slightly more advanced means than buying a book that completely blows open the conspiracy. There could have been interactive flashbacks to Gabriel’s ancestor, letting us meet Tetelo and explore a new area with a different ambience. There could have been a section following the lineage of the Gedde family, a la Le Serpent Rouge. There could have been so many things that might have added to the story and filled in the gaps and embraced more of the historical richness that The Beast Within would later do so well, maybe with a character like Marie Laveau or some other voodoo figure that must have come up while researching the story…

…but you know what we got instead? We get puzzles like persuading a character to translate voodoo symbols, not by demonstrating your knowledge to win her over, not by doing her a favour, but by making what can only be described as Baby’s First Lights-Out Puzzle display the words “TRUSTED FRIEND”. That is the only message it can display. That is this machine’s sole purpose. Maybe it would have been fine in another adventure, but this one? Gabriel Knight? Don’t be ridiculous.

'So I'm either a TRUSTED FRIEND or TWISTED SISTER.' 'Either's good, really. Thanks for not noticing that this blatantly isn't the same countertop that this machine was sitting on in a previous screenshot.'

By far the biggest disappointment of the remake though is what should have been its best feature – the behind the scenes content. 20th Anniversary has gathered together a ton of it, including original storyboards, concept art, comments from the original team, snippets of what could have been… and then pissed it all away with poor execution. Everything is displayed in a tiny Journal window in the middle of the screen, with nowhere near enough space to put things. You can’t zoom in on/fullscreen the pictures to see them properly, only squint at tiny resized versions. I just don’t get this. Why take so much time to gather all this stuff and then degrade it all for the sake of the interface?

Ordinarily, I’d have finished the game then settled back for some browsing. You can’t do that though, because rather than doing the sensible thing and unlocking more and more behind-the-scenes material as you play, every bit of it is assigned to a specific screen and only pops up when you click the star in that location. That means that you get one shot at checking out what it might have to say about, say, Malia Gedde’s house, there’s little scope to discuss evolving themes or continue past thoughts, and the choice of what to display often feels totally random. An interview with composer Robert Holmes… outside the snake mound in Africa? A picture of the Bayou maze… in Schloss Ritter? Probably the most head-scratching example is the concept art for the wonderful cutscene where Gabriel meets his uncle, described in the note by Jensen herself as “the dramatic highlight of the story”. It’s sandwiched between – and I swear I am not making this up, I just double-checked – the pencil art of a corridor and art comparison images of a janitor’s closet.

Worst of all, even when the archives have something of interest, there just isn’t space for it. The result is that the game’s idea of a worthy trivia nugget is the likes of “Original bookshop vs. the new. I wanted more New Orleans flavour in the remake.” Or discussing a storyboard with Sierra’s former Vice President of the Bleeding Obvious, “These ideas were later used to inspire drawings, paintings, video capture and 3D animation.” I confess that I haven’t looked at every screen and there may well be a few gems, but this is not exactly the loving nostalgia I was hoping for. I wanted to know more about the background, of alternate stories, of what could have been, of what plans were in mind for the next game, of the stories behind the research – the good stuff straight from the horse’s mouth that we don’t generally get to find out about, and certainly not 20 years down the road. Instead, I quickly got bored of seeing these scraps, craving something meatier than the average tweet.

Gabe, can I borrow your magnifying glass?

This kind of thing is what I find most frustrating about 20th Anniversary. It’s not the pixels on screen that ultimately made the impression, but the absence of what was behind them – the hundreds of indefinable somethings that separate a good game from a great one and a great one from a classic. They’re not seen so much as felt, both when done well, like sinking into a warm bath, and when they’re absent. If Gabriel Knight was the product of care, this is the bastard child of compromise – to expectations, to budget and, in fairness, likely a million publisher notes.

Where it succeeds is in modernising Gabriel Knight for an audience that will never, ever play the original. And that’s worth something, to be sure. It fails though at recapturing most of why the original is so beloved, and at channelling it for its changes. When it can’t simply rehash, it flounders, and even when it does, it largely proves why great artists remain great even when those that follow have better tools at their disposal. If what you want are the Sins of the Fathers in HD, 20th Anniversary has you covered. For revisiting the triumphs of the past though, stick with the original.

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47 Comments

  1. LordOfPain says:

    I haven’t played Gabriel Knight but have been meaning to for about 10 years. Can’t decide which version to go for… :/

    By the way, I suppose the Blake Backlash thing could be explained by the fact that famous characters sometimes get their name on the cover when it’s a book in a series. Like ‘Inspector Morse’ or ‘Sherlock Holmes’ or ‘Nikki Heat’. But I’m pretty sure you’re right and someone misunderstood.
    You’d like to think they had some fans beta test to pick up stuff like that. Takes the sheen off a bit, even if it’s small.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Yeah, but Blake Backlash isn’t successful, Gabriel is a failed author at this point in the story. You can see on the covers that his own name doesn’t appear at all on the front or the side. Either whoever rendered it didn’t understand the brief or they’ve never seen a novel before. And as I said, normally… eh, fine, mistakes happen. It stands out here though because it’s an extra bit thrown in seemingly for fans that completely blows its own reference and nobody bothered fixing. And then puts a typo in it for good measure.

      • Ethereal says:

        I have always thought Blake Backlash didn’t exist at all until the events of Gabriel Knight 1.

        In-game, there’s no compelling reason why Voodoo Murders became a #1 bestseller and his hypothetical previous Blake Backlash novels failed. Then, in the second game, Gabriel is trying to write a sequel tto his bestseller but can’t just crap supernatural stuff out at random (even though he has a well-stocked monster hunter library at his disposal).

        Also, writing imaginary adventures of a blatant self-insert hot supernatural detective, then having that stuff become reality is just way too corny.


        I consider the puzzles to be the strongest point of the original — including the sekey madoule, the mound, and the wonderful, wonderful entrance to the compound in Day 10. The bad puzzles I can recall off the top of my head are using the beignet guy to get into Mosely’s office — I could never use the distraction to get in, and waiting for Frick to fall asleep didn’t logically follow from anything — and the Schattenjager ritual, which doesn’t logically lead to anything.

      • LordOfPain says:

        Ah, I see. And I agree. Things like that can be jarring and disappointing.

    • equatorian says:

      Going by this review, I’d suggest the old one unless you absolutely cannot abide by pixel art and old-fashioned adventure games, or you just would really like to play games in HD. A lot of GK’s brilliance is in the atmosphere and the little details, and it looks like the remake misses those more than it hits.

      • Rikard Peterson says:

        I generally don’t like pixel art. When I see beautiful portraits in Wadjet Eye games, I wish that I could see it without the huge blocks. (I understand that they have to do it like that for budget reasons, and accept that.)

        But this… I’ll agree without hesitation that the original looks better. It’s still mostly unplayed on my shelf (I once started it, but never finished), and when then time comes for me to play the game, I’ll use the CD and stay fara away from this one. (That’ll probably require DosBox?)

        • LionsPhil says:

          It runs fine under DOSBox.

          Last I knew ScummVM didn’t support it yet, because it needs quite a lot of features added.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Play the original. It might take a little time to adjust to, but it’s by far the better game, and you can spend the money you save on enough sweeties to last you all the way through.

      • LordOfPain says:

        Thanks (and to equatorian too). I’ll do that.

      • Orillion says:

        OR buy this because seriously it needs to succeed and succeed well.

        There are two games in the series that needed a remake, and with any luck they’re next on the chopping block, before we finally get our “ghosts.” But that requires that this one does well.

        • edwardh says:

          If the next games will be just as shitty quality-wise, why bother?
          After this awful remake (which I will treat as if it never existed in the first place), Gabriel Knight is finally and truly dead to me.

  2. equatorian says:

    *readies wet halibut of nerd rage +5*

  3. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    :(

    Alas, I expected this. The remake was a doomed idea from the start.

    And I had no idea Jane Jensen wrote those Eli Easton books; that explains rather a lot about Moebius. Thanks for that piece of trivia, Richard.

  4. Amatyr says:

    Well, this combined with Moebius and I’m giving up on Jane Jensen, Pinkerton Road and Phoenix Online Studios. They clearly don’t have the chops to put together a product worth my money.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      Very much so. I never expected this to be the Kickstarter pledge that I most regret, but there it is. Live and learn, I suppose.

      • spacedyemeerkat says:

        Blimey. You never backed Godus, I take it.

        Actually, I ended up enjoying Moebius. Not sure why. Better than both Broken Sword and Broken Age for me.

        • Scurra says:

          Whoah. At least 22cans haven’t wandered off and decided to do something else halfway through that they also couldn’t be bothered to finish
          But for me, Moebius makes Godus look like the finest AAA title in existence. Truly. Moebius had almost no redeeming features of any kind, whereas Godus still has time to go somewhere (to the point that it is getting new content on a reasonably regular basis at the moment.)

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      It’s frustrating. I enjoyed Cognition and I liked Moebius more than many. Phoenix has some solid talent, but increasingly it feels like it’s being squandered due to a focus on trying to act like a big fish instead of taking the time to hone its craft. I don’t know exactly who is responsible for some of the decisions in the game, but it doesn’t really matter – it’s their rep on the table at this point, not Pinkerton Road, because fairly or not, they’ve put themselves in a whipping boy position where Jensen will get all the credit for what works and they’ll take the flak for any dodgy implementation. Not a great position to be in.

      I really want to see them knuckle down, cut the Jensen umbilical cord, and produce something they can point at and say “This is us! We stand for THIS!” without the inherent prevarications and restrictions of working on someone else’s stuff.

      • Scurra says:

        Just out of interest, Richard, do you play any of the endless stream of what are still called “hidden object” games from people like Elephant and ERS etc? (Although the Hidden Object aspect is often now a very minor part.) The new “puzzles” you describe here sound as though they are taken wholesale from those games which have largely redefined a particular subgenre of adventure games. Gabriel Knight always felt to me like one of those games but about ten or fifteen years too early…

        • Richard Cobbett says:

          I don’t, but I know the style. The thing is that puzzles aren’t necessarily interchangeable; something that’s fine for a hidden object game isn’t necessarily a fit for a reality-grounded game, just as a Monkey Island puzzle can’t just be swapped into something like a Sherlock Holmes game. They have to be pushing towards the same goal, so in this case, a mysterious ritual that grants Gabriel access to his family’s vault is in keeping with the story, whereas that family protecting it using a puzzle that wouldn’t bother a small child just makes them look silly. Conversely, a game like Mystery of the Druids suddenly asking the player to conduct a rite doesn’t work because the main character isn’t invested in the belief system that such a thing requires.

          Puzzles are fiddly things.

  5. Anders Gustafsson says:

    Berating the whole series because of the (admittedly crap) Cat Mustache puzzle is a tad unfair. Gabriel Knight 3 had one of the finest puzzles ever designed, namely the Red Serpent puzzle. Its merits far outweigh the other puzzles flaws.

    • Konstantinos Dimopoulos says:

      That is true indeed. The Red Serpent is the best puzzle ever.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Firstly, I didn’t berate the whole series because of that. Puzzles have never been its strong point, from the cuckoo clock distraction in GK2 to the snake mound puzzle to DJ BRING SEKEY MADOULE. I only really linked that one because at some point someone was going to anyway, and at least that link explains the whole story rather than just pointing and laughing. There’s only a few genuinely great puzzles in the whole series though, the one that springs to mind being the tape-splicing one in the second.

      And I don’t think Le Serpent Rouge is that great, honestly. Great CONCEPT, but in practice a very long-winded way of finding a hole that you stumble across earlier anyway, and so locked down to prevent mistakes that it may as well tell you what to draw. Loved the idea of it when I saw it, but in practice found it pretty banal, and like a lot of GK3, a fairly flawed attempt to cover up that not all that much was actually happening.

      (At least until what I still think of as THE ULTIMATE INFODUMP!)

      • Konstantinos Dimopoulos says:

        Yes, but that only happened because you are far too observant and thus doesn’t count. Best puzzle ever :P

        • Richard Cobbett says:

          I totally pegged the evil guy played by John deLancie with the pentagram laser over his wine cellar as the head of the vampires too. I’m like, part Schattenjager. The part that avoids monsters because that shit be scary.

          • Konstantinos Dimopoulos says:

            That’s the wisest kind of Schattenjaeger there is actually. Wise and observant you are then oh Richard.

      • Premium User Badge

        zapatapon says:

        I… totally agree with you on le Serpent Rouge being not that great, but never dared admitting it before for fear of chastisement. I am now out of the closet.

  6. Curratum says:

    I kind of called it out to be, production-wise, a bland botch-job after they released this in a preview screen on the official site – link to i.imgur.com

    Why would you DO that? Why would you think it’s ok to have this as an asset in a 2014 game that costs 20 Euros?

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      That location looks fine in the final game. The tree cut-out doesn’t have the corona, and the grass doesn’t just gradient fade into the ether on the right-hand side. (I called this one out too though, and still have no idea what they were thinking releasing it to people…)

      • Curratum says:

        I just hope to god the flat-shaded models and the general blandness and low-quality of models and backdrops has been improved upon at least a bit. If the actual game is as bland and underwhelming as this review makes it to be, I’ll be thumbing this down on Steam.

        Well, at least I get Grimrock 2 in a couple of hours so today won’t be bad after all! :D

  7. Det. Bullock says:

    The first one doesn’t really need a remake, hell, it’s the one I played last and at the same time is the one I liked best, the two sequels are unfortunately hindered by the limits of FMV and early 3D graphics, a 2D remake of the third game followed by a fourth game would be best.
    If they ever remake the third one they should at least get someone who really sounds italian for Buchelli, seriously, we have countless dubbing companies here: why nobody ever gives a phone call to one of them to record the dialogues of supposedly italian characters is beyond my comprehension.

    A bit of trivia with POTENTIAL SPOILER for Gabriel Knight 3:

    in the italian dubbing the phone conversation was in latin instead of badly pronounced italian (which is itself a strong clue on Buchelli’s real identity for any italian playing the game, only a priest from the Vatican is the kind of person who might be able to hold a conversation in latin), but for some reason the subtitles remained in italian, letting any italian gamer understand the conversation before Gabriel can have it translated.
    15-year-old-me (at least I think I was 15, I just remember I was a teenager in high school) was mildly bewildered by that, only playing the game in english a few years ago I understood why there was this oddity.

  8. sockz says:

    I got this and Full Throttle for my 10th or 11th birthday and loved them both. :)
    I had to ring a hint helpline once for both games, and I was still clueless after. Can’t remember what I was stuck on but completed them both eventually.

  9. Barchester says:

    It really takes a lot of talent to botch up a classic like Gabriel Knight like this. About time Phoenix & Pinkerton shut their doors for good. These people (including Jensen these days) haven’t got what it takes to deliver a quality adventure game, even when it’s right there under their collective noses. Truly impressive.

  10. tomimt says:

    I said it on an another forum before, but this remake does really make very little sense, as it’s pretty much a lowbudget version of a game that was in its time comparable to a todays AAA titles. Surely a title like that should be done that kind of quality, and budget, in mind.

    Not that someone would be bankrolling a AAA adventure game mind you, but that’s how I see it.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Indeed. Same reason you couldn’t redo several of the greats properly—just because they’re old and VGA and we have newer tools doesn’t mean they aren’t the work of teams of full-time professionals at the top of their game. Losing the star-studded voice acting cast is a very obvious thing to point to here.

  11. BobsLawnService says:

    Showing a woman pealing potatoes is now considered sexist? You do know that sometimes women peal potatoes. Men do too. It’s really not a big deal.

    Seriously. This rampant feminazism is being taken to absurd lows these days.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Uh-huh, sure, whatever. Nobody said anything about it being sexist. The character was changed in Gabriel Knight 2 to be more of a personal assistant to Wolfgang than a straight-up maid, hence the change is a good thing – bringing it into line with the character she became. Likewise, the whole German setting was rewritten in the second game to be less of a fairy-tale place (complete with snow in midsummer) to being a more modernised castle. These changes tie the games together much more, and there are thus an improvement.

  12. BobsLawnService says:

    Fair enough. I’m willing to accept when I’m wrong. I never did play the second game and I recall her being a maid. I’ve just been primed to respond like this given that I have read some crazy stuff on RPS around the topic of sexism.

    I stand corrected.

    • Richard Cobbett says:

      Cool :-) And she is a maid in the original game, but only there for a couple of scenes. When she became part of the family in the sequel, her role was altered quite considerably.

  13. LionsPhil says:

    The narrator single-handedly stretches the playtime from a few hours to something approaching the half-life of Bismuch-209 unless you switch her off, which you should absolutely do.

    I am beyond disappointed in you, Richard.

  14. Michael Fogg says:

    Wait a second, isn’t this article republished from somewhere (PC gamer)? Sounds familiar…

  15. airknots says:

    Loved all 3 Gabriel Knight games. In my opinion, they shouldn’t have touched GK1, as it’s perfect as it is, some parts are frustrating but it’s part of it’s charm. GK2 can probably benefit from an HD re-release. GK3 is the perfect candidate for a graphical update, the controls and graphics really sucked on that one, although I really enjoyed the story and puzzles.

    Another note, Phoenix Online should really hire better animators and artists. I’m not really impressed with the character models in all their games. Something just looks damn wrong in the anatomy and the way the 3D models move.

  16. shmargin says:

    “Jokes about Gabriel’s hair that don’t work now he’s gone from short and spiky to long and leonine.”

    link to static.gog.com

    His hair was never “short and spikey”, Grace’s comment about it didn’t make sense in the original either.

  17. shmargin says:

    Also comments about hiring better artists and animators, sure, that would help, but remember, even though adventure games are starting to make a comeback, publishers are still not eager to give money to developers for them.

    For example, GK1, in 1993, 21 years ago, had a 1 million dollar budget. 21 years later, they had a budget of less than half that to do this remake. And the dollar hasn’t exactly increased in value over that time.

    • Damien Stark says:

      This is a problem with Kickstarters and peoples’ expectations.

      Everyone gets crazy excited when they see a $2 Million Kickstarter, like “omg that’s like ALL THE MONEY”, but in terms of AAA game budgets that’s still practically nothing.

      Sure, for a proper indie game – say there was a Kickstarter to make a Super Meat Boy sequel – that’s a lot of money. But many of the Kickstarters people get excited about are like this one – remakes or sequels to previously mainstream big-budget games.

      So when they see what $1M or less really buys you, there tends to be a lot of disappointment…