Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Indie Horror: Gabriel Knight Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition

Posted by Rampant Coyote on October 30, 2014

GK1Determining whether or not a game is “indie” has always been challenging, but it gets moreso every day. Take Minecraft. It started out as indie as indie could be… a game made by a lone wolf developer on his own terms, not even sold through a third party. But then it made gobs of money, had a company form around it, and then  sold to Microsoft for ten frickin’ digits. Unquestionably, the next release of the game, under the Microsoft label, will not be indie. Maybe it wasn’t indie twelve months ago… at a certain point, you become so big that you become “the industry.” Its not that the game has (or will) fundamentally change. It won’t turn into Halo With Creepers. It’s the same game, but Microsoft-produced games are “non-indie” by definition. But that’s all about how and by whom the game is made, not the final product.

So can it go in the other direction? Can a non-indie game become “indie?” In theory, this has happened before, with certain mainstream games (like one by Microsoft, Allegiance, which went kinda “open-source” and is now maintained and expanded by volunteers.) I suggest that it’s happened again with Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition.

GK2The original game was a classic of 1990s graphic adventures, and is one of my all-time favorites. Made by Sierra On-Line, unquestionably a major publisher in the computer game industry of the era, it was known for its mature, well-written (especially for the time) story and compelling characters.

The original designer, Jane Jensen, has co-founded an indie game dev studio called Pinkerton Road, and managed to acquire the license to the first game in the series, and re-made it from the ground up (in Unity!) with a blend of 2D backdrop art and 3D characters and objects. It took me maybe three minutes to validate that the look and feel of the original game is fully intact – it’s the same game, but now for modern systems. Maybe it’s just been too long since I played the original, but I don’t really see much difference in terms of gameplay, other than the higher-resolution graphics making it easier to identify objects. According to the website, there are some new puzzles with this new edition, so there’s some new to the game.

GK3The story is about voodoo, the occult, murder, and possession. Great Halloween fare, no? The game retains its original setting – New Orleans (and beyond) in the early 1990s – an era before someone like Gabriel could just Google half the stuff he’s researching or grab digital photos in a heartbeat. Gabriel has to hoof it, sometimes a very long distance, to uncover the mystery of not only the ritual murders happening in New Orleans, but of his own haunting nightmares and family secret.

Unfortunately, they needed all-new, higher-quality audio for all the voice-overs. While I miss hearing Tim Curry, Michael Dorn, and Mark Hamill, I’ve gotta admit that the talent they got for the remake sound at least equal to their counterparts twenty years ago, at least so far as I’ve played. They may not be “name” talent, but they are definitely talented. Maybe it’s twenty years of additional experience directing voice-overs for games that makes the difference, but the new folks sound like they nailed it.

The remake has only been out for a few days, and I haven’t had much time to get into it, so a lot of the warm fuzzies I’m feeling may be directed more towards the original than truly earned by the remake, but the first hour or so has felt an awful lot like the original. It’s quite possible that the indie budget on this remake has resulted in some losses, so we’ll see. But so far, I’m impressed. The game seems worthy of the original classic, which still stands up in all it’s low-resolution, 2D glory today. But hey, I’m talking indie games now. GK: SotF 20th may have been able to “cheat” to get a leg up on other indie adventure games with a bigger budget and a beloved franchise to leverage off of.  But – so far, it looks and plays pretty well. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Filed Under: Adventure Games, Impressions, Indie Horror Games - Comments: Comments are off for this article

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