The story and dialogue aren't anything special nowadays, but they're also not outright bad which is more than you can say of some other 90s games. In fact, I'd say that the dialogue and pacing in Sins of the Fathers is leagues above Jane Jensen's game from earlier this year, the dreadful Moebius: Empire Rising. But the main problem with this remake is that it feels unnecessary.
That's really a testament to the quality of the original game. There aren't many titles from that you could remake and have the updated version feel superfluous, but here we are.
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The big selling point of this 20th Anniversary Edition is undoubtedly the art. All of the game's original environments, from Jackson Square to Schloss Ritter, have been redone in a hand-painted style that manages to up-rez everything while still staying semi-faithful to the original game. Some of these environments are exquisite, with Gabriel's bookstore in particular taking full advantage of the increase in screen real estate. There's a side benefit to this from a gameplay perspective in that it removes the original game's infuriating pixel-hunting aspects, and nobody will cry about that.
You can also hold down the spacebar to reveal every hotspot on the screen, which helps if you're still missing something. What 20th Anniversary Edition gains in visual fidelity, however, it loses in character. I'm hardly one to defend pixel art, but the pixel art in the original Sins of the Fathers was so damn good that this super-polished update feels less like an improvement and more like a lateral move.
It doesn't help that the 3D models are broken. The game is rife with times when the 3D models seem to float above the 2D backgrounds instead of resting in them—it's not something that's easy to show in a screenshot, but it's incredibly obvious in motion. All of the voice acting has been redone, and like the artwork this is at best a lateral move rather than an improvement.
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The original Sins of the Fathers was made at that time when, for whatever reason, a ton of B-list Hollywooders wanted in on game voice acting. The remake disposes with all that voicework and replaces it with a less star-studded cast. Again, it's not bad. It's also not better.
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It's just different, and longtime fans will undoubtedly miss the old voices. Gabriel's voice in particular takes some getting used to. While Tim Curry's performance was uneven, the new Gabriel Knight's voice sounds almost like a parody of itself at times and some of the more emotional moments come off weak right when they most need to sell the character.
Another oddity: All of the dialogue is apparently timed to the backgrounds, so when you click to skip past a line the entire background also fast-forwards. It's a small issue but incredibly distracting, especially in the foggier environments. Skipping lines also sometimes triggers overlapping dialogue, typically when you skip a line that's less than five words, causing you to miss the next bit of the conversation.
This can be a nightmare considering there's no conversation log and many puzzles rely on innate knowledge of what characters said. And then we come to the puzzles. Good lord, the puzzles.
This is a s Sierra title through and through, meaning the puzzles alternate between stupidly easy and "Just go look at a walkthrough" difficult. I don't want to ruin any puzzles from Sins of the Fathers , on the off-chance you haven't played it yet, so instead I invite you to read about the infamous Cat Mustache puzzle from Gabriel Knight 3 if you don't know what's meant by "Sierra hard.
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Basically, the Gabriel Knight series is incredibly guilty of Adventure Game Logic—the idea that puzzles don't hinge on actual real-world logic but instead task the player with getting inside the mind of the puzzle creator, oftentimes with awful results. Sins of the Fathers is one roadblock after another in the way of the player, and although the remake tries to rectify this by providing the aforementioned hotspot labels and a built-in hint system, the game is still a mess.
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