11/10 – Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

Getting famous actors for triple A games is becoming more and more common but many people forget that this was actually a trend several decades ago as well. Back in the 90’s when CD-ROM technology was first becoming wide-spread, several well known actors wanted to get in on the ground floor and developers were more than happy to include the star power. Today’s game had several famous names contribute to what would become a beloved point and click adventure game series. Today’s game is Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father, developed by Sierra and released on MS-DOS, Mac and Windows in 1993.

Gabriel Knight is a horror-noire point and click adventure game in traditional Sierra fashion but with a decidedly more mature tone than most games of the time. Gabriel Knight is a bookstore owner in the French Quarter and is looking to write a book about a series of killings in New Orleans dubbed the Voodoo Killings. Pushed onwards by a series of nightmares, Gabriel Knight learns that he has a personal connection to these killings and that it may be his responsibility to stop these crimes.

Gabriel Knight is written and directed by Jane Jensen, a game director well known for her point and click adventure games. Having worked on Police Quest and the famed King’s Quest series, Jane was looking to lead her own game and Sierra gave her that chance. Gabriel Knight was intended to show that adventure games could tell serious, macabre stories, as well as the light-hearted games like King’s Quest or Monkey Island. To be taken more seriously and to take advantage of the new technology afforded to Jane in 1993, she got actor Tim Curry to voice the lead role of Gabriel Knight. Also included on the cast were Mark Hamill, Leah Remini, Virginia Capers, Michael Dorn, and Jim Cummings, amongst others. 

Gabriel Knight received very positive reviews, mostly for the CD-ROM version of the game. It was also available on 11 floppy disks but that version was criticised for not being able to include the numerous videos. Critics called it the scariest game of the year and heaped praise on the writing and acting. Despite the critical reception, Gabriel Knight’s sales were middle of the road. They weren’t terrible for adventure games at the time but they came nowhere close to Sierra’s other hit properties. Gabriel Knight did receive two sequels but the third game marked the end of the series. Today, the Gabriel Knight series, including a 2014 re-imagining of Sins of the Father, are available on GOG, fully playable on modern OS’s. Jane Jensen would go on to make a number of other adventure games, including 2010’s Gray Matter, but due to the declining popularity of adventure games, none would become quite as popular as her first character, Gabriel Knight.

Thank you so much for listening! As always, archives and transcripts for every episode are available on videogameoftheday.com and I’ll be on Twitter @vg_oftheday. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day.

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