The other day, I got a press release in my email box about a new video game. The subject line was "Gabriel Knight Remake. Pre-orders Now Available."
Something got me scratching my head. There was a familiarity to it, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I sort of honed in on what I was thinking, but it just didn't, just couldn't be that, I thought. So, I read through the press release.
It began -- "The highly-anticipated Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers® 20th Anniversary Edition, a modern remake of one of Sierra ‘s greatest adventure games of all-time, will be available on October 15th, 2014."
Oh, my God. The "20th anniversary edition." It has to be the same thing. Around two decades ago, I reviewed games for a variety of computer magazines. And one of them stuck out in my mind for a very particular reason. It was a game that mixed video with interactive play about some character, who I thought was named something like Gabriel Knight, a young, really hip guy who investigated some murders in a mystical world.
Skimming through the press release, I eventually came to this --
"Hailed by Adventure Gamers as one of the most well-written games ever and given an Honorable Mention in the AV Club’s Top 100 Games of All Time, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition invites players to relive the classic voodoo murder mystery that's captivated generations of game enthusiasts for two decades. In the game, players will take on the role of roguishly handsome Gabriel Knight, a struggling author and owner of a bookstore in New Orleans, who is investigating the Voodoo Murders for his new book:"
That's it! That absolutely has to be it! As I said, the game was basically like a movie -- scenes filmed between actors, and it would stop for you to make decision and decipher clues, which impacted the direction the game went. If you couldn't get the clues, you could replay the scenes over and over again. And over and over.
And what I remembered about the game and about my review, even from 20 years past was that it was pretty well-produced, okay acted (with even a few character actors I recognized), and moderately intelligent -- and it starred a "roguishly handsome" guy who was likely a fashion model in his other life, because he couldn't particularly act, and had longish, flowing, oh-so-cool hair...that he had this incredibly annoying habit of relentlessly head-flicking off his forehead. And while it's one thing to see that repeatedly in a full-length "movie," it is gut-wrenchingly horrific when you're trying to solve a game and relentlessly replaying scenes over and over again. And over and over and over and over and over again.
And what I remember about my review most is that I took what might be the only cheap shot I ever took in a review, though a) it was deserved, and b) I believe I acknowledged beforehand that I was about to take a cheap shot. While giving it a generally positive review, I then wrote something like -- "And if and when they do a sequel to this game, it is my hope that it will be called Gabriel Knight 2: The Search for Gabriel Knight's Killer. Because I can't stand watching another head-flip."
Apparently, it turns out Gabriel Knight survived. Not just for a variety of sequels, but ba-ack after 20 years. To solve Voodoo Murders. Talk about bad mojo. I do have to assume that they have a new actor to play the roguishly handsome fellow this time. So, it might be safe for impressionable young children. Then again, for all I know the "sins of the father" they're talking about are those freaking head flips...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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