The Gabriel Knight series has always featured radically different art styles between entries. The first entry employed 2D, VGA graphics with an icon based parser, similar to earlier Sierra titles such as King’s Quest VI. The second game utilized digitized photography, full motion video and live actors whereas the third entry is entirely comprised of 3D polygonal graphics.
All styles featured pros and cons from a technological standpoint though today we’ll focus on the first game and how the backgrounds were updated in the 20th Anniversary Edition.One of the most noticeable technical/stylistic aspects of the original was the fact nearly half of the screen was taken by the dialog and inventory boxes.
St. George’s Book Shop in the 20th Anniversary Edition.
This means the screen view is letter boxed and while it presents a cinematic view it has the side effect of limiting the player’s view. The 20th Anniversary Edition allows for players to view the action on a full screen without any limitations. Sins of the Fathers allowed players to hide the icon window, a feature was also brought back for the remake.
The original game’s backgrounds consist of hand painted images which were then scanned onto the game itself. While the art itself if beautiful, the technology of the time limited these to a maximum of 256 colors and a resolution of 300x200. As a result the backgrounds suffer from artifacts and other issues.
The classic scene where Gabriel meets Malia.
All of the backgrounds for the 20th Anniversary Edition were created so as to preserve the spirit of the original. Rather than going for realism, the characters and backgrounds feature their own distinctive art style. The Schloss Ritter castle also received a major update. This time it was made to more closely resemble its Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within counterpart while still keeping the rooms that were so characteristic of the first title.
Finally we have the comic book panels. These have always been one of the defining features of the original entry in the series. All of the panels have been re-done while still introducing new ones and new elements to the story.
There is little changed in the overall mood of the game between then and now beyond updating it for the new generation of fans. How longtime players will react to the 20th anniversary edition isn’t clear, but its setting and mood have always done a thorough job at delivering an emotional impact to the overall story.
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