(This is part of my journey playing through Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)
At his castle in Germany, Gabriel Knight is working on a new novel and between brushing back his luxurious flowing hair and finger typing, he throws his hands up in exasperation. He read the script for the game, maybe?
This is the “new” Gabriel, played by Dean Erickson who took over for Tim Curry’s voice acting in the first. To bring any of you who haven’t played the first game up to speed, Gabriel was a novelist/private investigator who became a “Schattenjäger” — a Shadow Hunter. He’s also very southern, very sarcastic, and has a giant talisman that wards him from evil. There, you’re mostly caught up.
Gabriel’s late-night finger pecking is interrupted by the horrible acting of his assistant, who lets him know that a mob is banging on the door. Because mobs only show up in the night, that’s when they’re the most dramatic, dontcha know. Cue a lot of German accents as they clamor for help from the Schattenjäger (a phrase that sounds more and more like something frat boys chug every time it’s mentioned) due to a werewolf attack on a young lady. Werewolf? The game’s going there already? Guess so. So how do we know it’s a werewolf?
The dad of the killed girl steps forward and says that he saw human eyes in the giant wolf’s face. His name, I kid you not, is Syp. Well, Sepp, but it sounds just the same. Look at that baleful face! How can I deny him justice? A-Schattenjäging I go!
Gabriel agrees to go down to the village for a little investigation, and that’s when the game fimally switches out of full video to allow for interaction. As you can see with this full interface, you’ve got the room itself as well as icons for manipulating the scenery, rewatching movies, and listening to tapes.
Well, time to start looking around! I open up my duffel bag and look through my inventory for a few items of interest, such as my cool knife, a couple of letters about my new castle and how my book is doing, and mentions that I’m well off, financially. So why can’t I hire a gang of assistants again? Speaking of which, I click on the table and the game goes into a half-minute sequence of showing me writing to my assistant in New Orleans. Licking and addressing the envelope and everything. Immersive? I guess… kind of feels like someone is heady with FMV power. I could’ve done without that tongue. At least so early in the game.
So basically the way this game controls is that you click on interactive elements and then the screen transfers to a short video showing you Gabe doing whatever Gabe does. Sometimes he does a lot more than you’d assume (i.e. actions instead of just describing objects). Thus far, the action is decent for a guy who’s pretty much putting on a one-person show. Way to don that jacket, man!
As the constant ticking of the clock in the room — the only sound — starts to drive me mad, I read the newspaper and get a possible lead about wolves and a zoo. I’m thinking that there’s going to be a big wolf motif in this game.
Gabe heads outside and almost instantly finds a giant paw print in the ground not ten steps from the front door. You think the police would have been over this. A couple more steps past that and he finds a bit of dark hair on the ground. Because Gabe is morbid like this, he picks it up and tucks it into his jacket. For his scrapbook, I assume. “Gracie, good news! More human remains for my album!”
I go into a toolshed and start clicking on the items. One click of a bag of cement is enough of a signal for Gabe to take it down and start mixing some up because he’s been waiting his whole life for this moment. Seriously, I was like, Gabe, Gabe what are you doing. I didn’t tell you to do that. I just wanted a description. Why are you making cement, Gabe? Gabe, this isn’t even your house, Gabe. Gabe. Fine, you’re cleaning it up.
Well, might as well use it. I head back over to the paw print and make a cast of it. Guess the game knows more than I do? Is there an auto-pilot switch so that it can play itself?