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It’s been 20 years since Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers first broke new ground in point-and-click adventures, and the anniversary edition coming early this fall is much more than a graphically remastered version.

The original game, with its dark, supernatural themes, A-list voice acting and detective-style interviews, is a classic. Its sequels would go on would make better use of full-motion video than previous games, and fans have fond memories of the series.

Jane Jensen

Above: Jane Jensen

Image Credit: Pinkerton Road Studio

Phoenix Online Games plans to publish the anniversary edition of Sins of the Fathers, completely rebuilt on the Unity Engine, for PC, Mac and iOS early this fall. In many scenes, it includes unlockable extras from the original. It’s one of the first games developed by original designer Jane Jensen and partner Robert Holmes’ new Pinkerton Road Studios (the other was Moebius: Empire Rising, which released this spring). You can see how the game’s art has changed here.

Jensen worked for years to release an anniversary edition, and with Activision’s purchase of original publisher Sierra Entertainment (and its plans to resurrect that studio), the talks over the franchise finally began to move forward.

I interviewed Jensen back when the Gabriel Knight games first released, and I caught up with her after playing a couple of chapters in the new game to discuss what had changed in the past 20 years — both in the new Gabriel Knight edition and in the gaming industry.

Gabriel Knight Gedde interview screenshot

Above: Dialogue options were streamlined in the 20th Anniversary edition.

Image Credit: Phoenix Online Studios

GamesBeat: In addition to updating the environment, graphics, and soundtrack, you also made changes to the original Gabriel Knight. What philosophy did you use when deciding what to enhance and what to simply update?

Jane Jensen: For the most part, I wanted the game to be true to the classic. I knew fans would not be happy if we messed with too much. But we had a chance to add in a few new puzzles and scenes that could enhance the feeling of being immersed in New Orleans — specifically, some exterior shots that weren’t in the old game. Also, I wanted to make it a little scarier, if possible.

We kept almost all the original dialogue, but as soon as I started playing it, I felt it would be overwhelming for a more modern audience. They wouldn’t have the patience to listen to 25 questions with each person, so we added in the highlighting of the important topics, and also instead of having every single verb on every item, we cut the ones that didn’t yield an interesting response. We tried to cut down on the amount of un-productive point-and-click.

GamesBeat: What about the alterations you’ve made to mystery author Gabriel Knight’s appearance? He’s a longer-haired blonde now.

Jensen: He’s sort of an amalgamation of the Gabe in GK1, GK2, and GK3. His hair is similar to the way it was in GK2 and GK3 — a longer shag. And in terms of his physique, the higher resolution means you see everything so we did put a lot of time into making sure he had a great body. I always saw Gabriel as a sexy bad-boy type.

Gabriel Knight bookstore bedroom screen shot

Above: Gabriel Knight’s new body type, courtesy of the Unity Engine.

Image Credit: Phoenix Online Studios

GamesBeat: The voice acting is different this time around — Tim Curry, Mark Hamill, Leah Remini, et al, don’t return. Was that driven by technical concerns, budget, or other reasons?

Jensen: It had to do with the quality of the original material — we didn’t have the original recordings, so all we would have been able to do is strip the voices from the existing game, and that audio was very compressed.

It also had to do with budget, because [the Screen Actors Guild] has changed a lot of their clauses and fees since 1993, and we wouldn’t have been to afford the original cast now. Also, that cast is 20 years older, and probably wouldn’t have sounded the same, even if they were still working.

I love the original cast, and especially Tim Curry, but it just wasn’t in the cards this time around.

Gabriel Knight extras screenshot

Above: Extras include interviews, screen shots, and sketches like this one.

Image Credit: Heather Newman

GamesBeat: How did you go about selecting the unlockable extras? Had you purposefully saved them for the past 20 years?

Jensen: We were fortunate to get our hands on a bunch of original sketches that were essentially dumped in the trash when Sierra was sold and rescued. And I’ve gotten some fun stuff from old team members.

We have interviews, too, with some of the original team, and it’s been interesting for me to hear what they remember about GK and how it has affected their lives — 20 years later. So it’s been a bit of a treasure hunt.