I sometimes wonder whether the games I played as a kid would be any interesting if they were released today, and with today’s standards. Would the stories still be interesting? Would the gags still make me laugh? Would the gameplay still be fun?
With the release of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers—20th Anniversary Edition, the answer to all three of those questions is out. And the answer to all three is “kind of.”
Gabriel Knight was a dark game with plenty of humor, great pixel art, a good soundtrack, and interesting writing. It’s a classic, and a great game even by today’s standards.
The remake, however, doesn’t quite have that same charm. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a good game, but it lost something in the transition from the classic style to the modern style.
The difference reminds me of the 48 FPS version of The Hobbit (which is twice the normal frame rate). A lot of viewers, myself included, found the 48 FPS version difficult to bear. It looked fantastic, but in doing so it lost its magic. The detail was so crisp you could literally see the actors’ makeup and you could tell they were using sets.
I think the remake of Gabriel Knight did the same thing. The better graphics makes voices seem lacking, the humor less sharp, and the story much, much darker.
The pixel art in the classic Gabriel Knight seems to have masked some of what we’d consider flaws by today’s standards. The dialogue seemed great, the humor seemed creative and witty. It also seemed to have balanced out the dark story. It made it seem less of a creep fest and more of an adventure.
I think a saving grace for the remake would be an option for a “Classic Mode” of sorts, something that would let you switch between the new version and the classic version. For me at least, the remake just made me want to play the classic—although I will say the interface in the remake is much better than the original.
I would consider the remake of Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers as a game for newcomers to the series. It’s still the same game, and it’s a great game, but I think gamers expecting a rebirth of the old Golden Age of Adventure Games will be disappointed. On the other hand, gamers looking for a decent adventure game, and who come to the series without huge expectations, should be pleased.
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition is available for PC and Mac on Steam for $19.99.
There are also planned releases for iOS and Android.