E3 2014: Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Remake
Will we have Curry?
07.01.14 - 1:07 PM
Folks of a certain age with a love of a'pointin' and a'clickin' are likely to have some seriously fond memories of adventure gaming classic Gabriel Knight. It probably wouldn't be a stretch to describe the entire team at Phoenix Online Studios as exactly those types of people. Along with the Shattenjäger's original creator, Jane Jensen, Phoenix is hard at work on Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Remake, and I had a chance to take a peep at an extend demo of the upcoming adventure.
Perhaps the most immediate question on fans' mind is whether or not they'll hear Tim Curry's iconic portrayal of the character, and the answer is sadly no. There's a silver lining though, as Phoenix has enlisted Bay Area Sound, known for their work on many of Telltale's adventure games, to cast and record the voice-over for the game. While Gabe's new actor, Jason Victor, perhaps doesn't hit quite the same note of perfection as Curry's original performance, what I heard so far sounds plenty satisfying. Victor clearly knows the character well, and manages to capture his trademark snarky charm. What few other characters we caught a glimpse of in the demo sounded good as well, though it was an admittedly limited sampling. In regards to the music, the original soundtrack is being retouched by maestro Robert Holmes. Again, what little I was able to hear in the noisy E3 hallways sounded good, and based on Holmes' earlier work, it's likely that fans of the original will be pleased with the re-recorded tunes.
Visually, the game makes use of pre-rendered backgrounds with 3D character models, and animated artwork for cinematic sequences. The original, pixelated graphics have been redrawn to incorporate more detail and make the same places you fondly remember look better than ever. I immediately noticed that the talking head portraits and character animation were considerably better than the studio's previous game, Moebius, which should come as a relief to fans.
Gameplay-wise, the interface has been streamlined from the original multi-cursor walk/touch/look/talk/item into something more modern adventure gamers will be at home with, featuring context options on each interactable object in the world. Talking with characters is implemented with a series of dialogue choices in a list, and the ones we saw were quite lengthy, in the spirit of the original game. Additionally, many puzzles have been retooled to make more sense within the context of the game world, requiring the execution of investigative logic rather than archaic pixel-hunt style adventuring.
Based on my brief demo, Gabriel Knight's resurrection seems to be coming along smoothly. While it's not exactly on the scale of a AAA production, it's incredibly unlikely it would have seen the light of day without Phoenix's help. The updated presentation and interface seem as though they'll go a long way towards creating some new fans, but most importantly, this is still the wonderful, witty Gabe so many players fell in love with years ago. If Phoenix can execute on the polish and promise of the material, we might all be happy to find ourselves shadow hunting again sometime this summer.