Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition Game Review: The Welcome Return of an Adventure Classic
The most striking part of the 20th Anniversary Edition is the transformation into polished HD graphics. The moody, detailed environments – one of the game's greatest strengths – truly shine in the re-release, enabling Jane Jensen's vision of the New Orleans locales to be fully realised. Robert Holmes' remastered soundtrack is more stirring than ever. Additionally, the rerecorded voices are strong and don't jar with my recollections of the characters – a concern when I discovered the excellent original voice cast (including Tim Curry, Leah Remini and Mark Hamill) wouldn't be returning.
Otherwise, there have been slight refinements (such as a helpful new hint system) and additions (new puzzles and scenes), although nothing drastic. The game is, for the most part, faithful to the original, which can be seen as both a strength and a weakness.
Although not groundbreaking, the intriguing and well-paced storyline still holds its own (check out my review of the second game novelisation here), and the in-depth conversations that can be held with characters – even those who appear only briefly – constitute a valuable world-building feature sadly lacking in most games today.
A replay does, however, expose some of the more convoluted and unnatural puzzles (e.g. awkwardly luring a mime to a police officer to distract him while you use his radio), although this is far from unusual for the genre. Also, the fact that, while necessary (and delightfully snarky), Grace's supporting role doesn't really develop beyond this has become more disappointingly apparent to me over the years. Particularly frustratingly, I experienced a few noticeable bugs, including a quite devastating one that affected the audio, resulting in dialogue overlapping and becoming barely comprehensible if I tried to skip text once I'd finished reading it (although this may have since been addressed).
Nevertheless, the 20th Anniversary Edition is a more than welcome return to Jane Jensen's voodoo murder-mystery classic and hopefully not the last we've seen of Gabriel Knight.
Verdict: The welcome return of an adventure classic.