Arguably the best adventure game series ever made, Gabriel Knight not only sets new standards of interactive storytelling, but also proves that computer games can be no less literate, mature, well-informed, and thought-provoking than other media.
Jane Jensen has created in a disheveled, egotistical, and tormented New Orleans writer one of the most memorable computer game protagonists of all time, and thrust the term Shattenj?ger into the public spotlight. Every new Gabriel Knight game not only has an even better story than the last, but also pushed the technological envelope at Sierra in creative ways that no other designer can match. In Sins of The Fathers, Jane stretched the capabilities of Sierra's icon-based interface by adding new commands, and use it in several new ways (such as allowing the player to write whole passages in Voodoo language, or send drum codes). While The Beast Within seemingly succumbed to the FMV (full-motion video) fad in late 1990s, the game today stands as prime example of how an FMV game *should* be done: with outstanding acting, gripping atmosphere, and an intuitive interface that sacrifices none of the challenging puzzles. Similarly, the amazing character-independent movement modes and interface in Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned is testament to how 3D can actually enhance gameplay in adventure genre.
As in the first two games, no prior experience with the series is required to enjoy GK3, although you won't understand some subtle comments and retorts (mostly by Grace) if you haven't played the first 2 games. Although GK3 has a lot to live up to given the outstanding plots of its predecessors, Jane Jansen does one even better by tackling Rennes-le-Ch?teau, one of the world's most famous unsolved mysteries and one of the most hotly-contested locations of the Holy Grail. And how does it relate to our Shattenjager? As it turns out, Gabriel and Grace was requested by Prince James to help guard son from evil men he suspected to be vampires. One night as they were on watch, a mysterious kidnapper succeeds in abducting the baby. Gabriel pursued them on a train, only to find himself whacked on the head and woke up in Rennes-le-Ch?teau. He has no choice but to check himself in a hotel, explores the area, and find the missing baby. True to the region's rich history, you will soon come across references to various legends including the Knight Templars, vampires, political conspiracies, and of course the Holy Grail itself... the unravelling of which will explain not only why Prince James' son is important, but also sheds light on Gabriel's own destiny.
Just as Gabriel Knight fans got used to Dean Erickson and his fellow actors who made The Beast Within one of the best FMV adventures ever made, Sierra shifted gears 180 degrees and announced that GK3 would be a 3D adventure. Noone could blame them, though-- by late 1998, the FMV fad that reigned adventure gaming and led to the releases of utterly horrendous movies-pretending-to-be-games (Angel Devoid, Fork in a Tale, and countless others) was (thankfully) gone for good, as the industry becomes enamored with 3D accelerator. But as she proved with The Beast Within, Jane Jensen once again refused to be led blindfolded by technology, and created for GK3 one of the best interfaces adventure genre has ever seen. Although the graphics in GK3 will give every 3D-card owner their money's worth, the game is best described as "third-person 3D adventure." The "third person" comes from the ability to move independently of your character-- you can roam around the scene as Gabriel/Grace stands still, and soon as you want to interact with something, Gabriel/Grace will walk over to the hotspot. This independent movement method and the game's real time gameplay makes possible some excellent puzzles, such as stealing Mosely's passport. As with previous games, the amount of research that went into GK3 gives rise to not only a believable plot, but also some compelling puzzles. The La Serpent Rouge puzzle you get to solve as Grace using Sidney, the in-game computer, is one of the most elaborate (and even educational!) puzzles ever devised.
With an outstanding plot, great characters (Tim Curry is once again back to his celebrated role as the voice of Gabriel Knight), and exceptional gameplay, Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned will glue you to the screen for days on end. If you like mature, thought-provoking adventure games, you can't go far wrong with this classic.
Note: There are many Easter Eggs hidden in GK3... many more so than the first two games. For some fun things to try, type "gk4" into Sidney in the game to get a glimpse of what Jane has in mind for the next game in the series (is Sierra is smart enough to let her do it-- we can only hope). Anyone who is interested in learning more about the famous Rennes-le-Ch?teau mystery, or want a much more complicated real-life version of La Serpent Rouge puzzle would do well do visit Alan Scott's amazingly comprehensive website (also in Related Links section below), which presents results from his ongoing research on this mystery (which he began 28 years ago!), and is updated regularly. Although download of the entire website for offline reading is available, it is broken into several chunks. I have compiled them all in one big file here [9MB] for anyone who's interested. It's included in our one-file-only rule, so make sure you're not downloading anything else :)