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 December 3, 1999

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 PC > reviews > Gabriel Knight III: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned

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Now, what do you have against my shirt man! I think it’s pretty slick.

Game Info
Sierra Studios
Sierra Studios
Number of Players
November 19, 1999
Minimum Requirements
P166 w/ 3D accelerator
P233 w/o 3D accelerator

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The guy down at the shop told me I would look cool riding a motorcycle. Unfortunately the only color they had left was baby puke green.

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Church is a safe place to hide from all those vampires… I hope…

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Say fellows, how about we drink two shots of tequila, drown our sorrows, throw up in the alley, and forget our problems?

Gabriel Knight III: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned

Gabriel Knight III proves that adventure games still have some life left in them.

December 3, 1999

It’s been a long time coming; three and some years waiting for the sequel of one of the most in-depth, story-rich adventures around. Those days in ’96 were happy ones for us adventure gamers. Chanting our spells (candle on rug, rug on candle), blissful in the knowledge that adventure gaming is here to stay, firmly set in its position as one of the leading genres. Little did we know that faith was about to turn on us, and that before long we would have to glorify the fact that a quality looking ‘classic’ adventure was even out on the shelves. There's less than a month left ‘til the year 2000, and finally it there it was - the third coming of the man, the legendary Shadow Hunter… (drum roll)

The name is Knight, Gabriel Knight…

From these few words, the more perceptive of our readers can safely deduce that the author of this text is a Gabriel Knight fan. To be more precise, I could say I’m a huge fan of the creative mind behind the projects, a very talented lady by the name of Jane Jensen. Every serious adventurer has to appreciate a great story, especially in a world of high speed, big budget entertainment, and Jane delivers just that. In my mind, her stories are absolutely the most thought over and well researched concepts that can be found in the world of PC gaming today. It’s ok then to get excited about getting your hands on Gabriel Knight III, but being a big fan of the series, it’s all the more reason to be a bit tougher, and critically sharper as well.

The Story: It All Began Many Centuries Ago…

After leading us through the Bavarian countryside in a story about German royal blood, Wagner and werewolves, Jane decides to turn our attentions to the small French village of Rennes-le-Chateau, a controversial tourist town. The case begins with Gabriel’s visit to a home of a dethroned Prince of Albany. The Prince is plagued by fears for his only son’s safety, and as it turns out, rightfully so. A secretive vampire sect manages to kidnap the baby on the night when Gabriel was on guard, and the chase leads to a heavy-handed bump on the head and the awakening in the hotel room at Rennes-le-Chateau. Snooping around Gabriel soon learns about the arrival of the tourist group at about the same time the chase took place. There is something odd about them; they don’t act like your usual bunch of holidaymakers… Little settlement of Rennes-le-Chateau gives off that eerie Twin Peaks atmosphere: nice and friendly on the outside, with a bunch of weird and unusual things going on behind closed doors. The town seems to be known for its rich history and a tourist attraction in the form of hidden treasure. Nobody knows what that treasure might be, but some speculate that it has something to do with The Order of the Templars, and that elusive relic from the history of Christianity, The Holy Grail.

Gabriel further finds out that somehow the kidnapping of Prince’s son, the hidden treasure, the tourist group, Rennes-le-Chateau, and The Holy Grail are all connected somehow, and that there is a deep historical background to what could be otherwise interpreted as a random set of events. As in her previous work Jane has done a whole lot a research on the subject. Rennes-le Chateau is an actual place in France, and some of the facts are based on an extensive research of the area’s mythical history. Although we don't know if there are any real vampires hanging around the town. Well, maybe Pierre the shopkeep, but he's nice enough.

Gabriel’s Character, Tim vs. Dean, FMV vs. 3D

Before going on about the GK3’s set up, we should pause for a while and contemplate on the general appearance of the Gabriel’s character. A game that is as story driven as this one needs to be able to personalize the gamer as much as possible with the main character. Supporting actors are also very important in terms of how well they carry the story (Grace and Detective Mosely are back), but Gabriel is the one that we need to relate to in order for a feeling of fantasy to be complete. Now, I wonder… has the voice of Tim Curry (also used in GK1) managed to make the Gabriel character more admirable and likeable? In my opinion, the answer should be a resounding NO! Gabriel Knight, in a strong contrast to “The Beast Within,” sounds more like a hideous mix of Forest Gump and Scarlet O’Hara than a sharp-witted Shadow Hunter. Where GK2 succeeded in the glorious manner with which Dean Erickson played the role of Mr. Knight, Blood of The Sacred, Blood of The Damned fails in most part, with a cold and over exaggerated interpretation of the southern accent. I don’t know if it is because of the shift to 3D polygonal characters, or not being able to ‘read’ the faces correctly, but Gabriel looses some of that warmth and charm that has been his trademark in the previous title.

Having in mind what a classical adventure like Gabriel Knight is supposed to be, I wonder if the move to 3D brought more advances or set backs to the series. 3D hardware is not yet ready to depict the emotions and feelings in the way actors can (read: low polygon counts), and although 3D environments give more freedom to the player, even in a conventional point and click games, it is doubtful they can bring the character and the story closer to the player. Making GKIII a 100% FMV adventure wouldn’t be a smart move at this day in age, but a mix of 3D with FMV cutscenes with Dean Erickson as Gabriel… hmm… I wonder.

Interface Me When I'm Talking To You

Blood of The Sacred, Blood of the Damned is divided into three separate days. Every day is then separated by hours, represented by chapters in the story. Events, such as the passing of time, are triggered by player’s actions, which means that the story will advance to the next chapter right after you’ve solved all the puzzles and seen the dialogues. That makes the game play pretty linear, although certain actions can be passed on to another chapter or left out all together. In order for hours to change, all the important things intended for the particular time period must happen, and supporting characters will go about their business only after the chapter has ended.

In essence GKIII is still a point and click adventure. First of the new additions is the change to 3D characters and environments. With it comes the possibility of moving Gabriel in all directions by a click of a mouse. Also new (and I've never seen this before) is an autonomous first-person camera view. In order to inspect a certain area in the game, player can rotate the field of view in all axis, independently from Gabriel’s model. The whole idea works pretty well in point and click settings, although it does take some time to learn how to adequately cover all the angles. Luckily, using the pre-set still camera views (nice touch), accessible by right clicking anywhere on the screen, should solve this problem.

The game’s inventory interface, on the other hand, is pretty clunky and annoying. Hitting the ‘I’ key will bring up the inventory, but it would be a whole lot easier if a drag and drop option was available. Using the favorite adventurer’s chanting spell -- rug on candle, candle on rug -- can get pretty tedious after clicking ‘select’, and then ‘use’ on a few objects. One other thing making the game play less fun than its predecessors is the slow manner in which Gabriel moves around the screen. It’s a shame programmers didn’t include the double click option, so that our hero could run across the screen, speeding things up a bit. Apart from that and a few interface glitches, we could say that the game’s set up is okay, especially with the introduction of the refreshing, independent first person camera.

A Few Words on The Puzzles

In comparison to the previous Gabriel Knight titles, the job of puzzle solving requires paying a lot more attention to details. It’s possible to miss an important clue thinking it’s a pre-programmed background routine (i.e. a motorcycle driving by). Also, some of the problems are managed by clicking on the right spot at the right time, kind of like the werewolf killing sequence in “The Beast Within”.

An evidence of the growing techno-mania, even amongst the Shadow Hunters, is the introduction of Sydney. “Sydney” is a computer program, created by Grace’s brother to be used for logical analysis and research. In other words it’s a good way to introduce logical puzzles, and data research into the game without affecting the game play too much. Considering GKIII remains a classic point and click adventure, the rest of the puzzles are concentrated predominantly around wits and that old, tedious ‘candle on the rug’ process. Then again, who said that adventure games are supposed to be a stroll in the park? The great joys of the genre come with the frustrations of being completely stuck on a problem ... it’s a package deal. It makes finding a solution all that much more fun. Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned has plenty of such moments in store, and it promises a good deal of both fun and frustration while we unfold the hidden mysteries of the past.

In a Nutshell

Overall, the game is a welcome change for the action-heavy PC market. With its original story and the hard work put into development, it’s bound to find its pool of fans. The huge success of Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within, and the reputation of the author, Jane Jensen, give all the more reasons to feel that Gabriel Knight 3 will achieve commercial success. On the downside, the fans of Gabriel Knight 2 will be disappointed to know that the sequel doesn’t immerse the player as much into the story. It is unlikely that Blood of The Sacred Blood of The Damned will reach the status of its predecessors.

-- Uros Jojic

Congratulations to the artists doing the covers and the comic book. Technical help is all right, although I had some problems with the game and my GeForce card.
Nothing too spectacular in this department. Characters look pretty detailed for today’s 3D. Open spaces leave a lot to be desired, even with tri-linear filtering and mip-mapping on.
The music in Gabriel Knight III is fantastic. Talk about a mood setter… two thumbs up. Mosely’s voice over is quite nice, and funny. Grace isn't too bad. Some solid French accents as well.
Sometimes gameplay suffers from slow down, but if you take into account the excellent story and well worked out plot, it makes playing the game more than worthwhile.
Lasting Appeal
After you finish the game, read all the books. The stories are wonderful, and their lasting appeal in somebody’s imagination is a pretty subjective category to evaluate.
OVERALL SCORE (not an average) 8.3

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