The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery
|The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery|
|Genre(s)||Interactive movie, Point-and-click adventure|
The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery is an interactive movie point-and-click adventure game released by Sierra On-Line in 1995. Unlike the first Gabriel Knight game, released in 1993, The Beast Within was produced entirely in full motion video. The technology was popular at the time of the game's production with the recently introduced storage capabilities of CD-ROMs, but was expensive to produce. The third Gabriel Knight game used a rendered 3D engine.
The Beast Within is a point-and-click adventure game, played from a third-person perspective. The game is divided into six chapters and the player controls Gabriel and Grace alternately between the chapters. They conduct their investigations separately for the most of the game, only joining forces in the finale.
The storyline weaves together werewolf mythology and Bavarian history with sexual intrigue and businessmen's quest for their primal roots. The game's two lead characters are Gabriel Knight—the seemingly less-than-bright but smart-as-a-fox mystery writer and bookstore owner—and Grace Nakimura (played by Joanne Takahashi), his less-than-trusting and keen assistant. Knight (portrayed by Dean Erickson) has inherited a castle in a small German village and the title of Schattenjäger ("shadow hunter" in German) that comes with it. It has been a year since the voodoo murders case (Sins of the Fathers) and the local villagers implore him to investigate the mysterious death of a little girl—caused, they believe, by a werewolf. Knight and Nakimura's search for clues takes them to Munich, King Ludwig II's famous Neuschwanstein Castle, Altötting and Bavaria's forested countryside. Their efforts lead them to uncover the truth about King Ludwig's mysterious death and discover a lost Richard Wagner opera, written by Robert Holmes (composer of music in the game).
In every Gabriel Knight game, the popular gospel hymn "When the Saints Go Marching In" can be heard, albeit in different remixes and forms. In The Beast Within it is heard when Gabriel is visiting the Marienplatz in Munich.
As well as creating the soundtrack for the second game alongside Jay Usher, series composer Robert Holmes wrote the music for a scene from the fictional opera entitled "Der Fluch Des Engelhart" ("The Curse of Engelhart").
The game was released for PC and Macintosh. The Macintosh version uses a video player developed by Sierra instead of an off-the-shelf technology such as QuickTime, and had a tendency to crash or run slowly on 680x0 processors. There is an XP-compatible re-print on DVD with de-interlaced movies, but it is exclusive to the Italian market.
The Beast Within has a much more involved plot than its predecessor, Sins of the Fathers. Jane Jensen said that this was because the FMV graphics "limited the interactivity we could do. I specifically tried to put a lot more intrigue in the plot, so even though the interactivity was easier, there would still be enough meat going on to keep people engaged."
The role of Gabriel Knight was re-cast, since Jensen felt Tim Curry, who voiced Knight in Sins of the Fathers, didn't look the part. Dean Erickson took the part, and delivered a take on the character markedly different from Curry's. Erickson explained "There was no way I was going to do Tim Curry, because... you know, Tim Curry is Tim Curry. He was a little more animated or maybe you could say over the top. What he was doing called for that. What I was doing called for something a little more down to earth and grounded." He clarified that "[Curry] only voiced a character and, due to the nature of animation, voices often need to be more over-the-top, because they have to impart more of everything without the visual aspect of a real, live person on screen."
To prepare for the role, Erickson intensely studied films with Southern characters and voice tapes of Southern dialects in order to make his accent sound natural. He enjoyed the role and later said that if the Gabriel Knight series had continued using live action FMV, "I would have done the next five or six."
Filming for the cut scenes was done in California during mid-1995. Erickson recalled that due to video game budget constraints, the actors were expected to show up at the set prepared to give a perfect delivery; director Will Binder would not run more than two takes of any scene unless absolutely necessary. In addition, all of Erickson's narrative voice overs were recorded in a single day at a sound studio.
The locations in the game include very realistic depictions of different parts of Bavaria (including parts of Munich and castles such as Neuschwanstein). However, in Neuschwanstein the actual paintings in the Singer's Hall were changed to correspond with the plot.
When the game was first released in Germany, it lacked dubbing and subtitles and had a few more violent scenes censored. The screen would go black and a short message appeared on screen roughly describing the material that was edited out in a few words. When the game was later released in its localized German version it was uncensored and branded "suitable for players aged 16 and above".
The Beast Within was very well received by critics. At GameRankings it scores 90.50% (based on 6 reviews). Adventure Gamers' Dan Ravipinto called The Beast Within "one of the few computer games to actually involve personal, meaningful growth in a player-character. Easily one of the best Full Motion Video games ever made." Critic Philip Jong of Adventure Classic Gaming gave the game 5 out of 5 stars, saying that it "is an epic interactive adventure that triumphs in both gameplay and storytelling. It masterfully blends fantasy and a touch of real life history to add an unparalleled degree of realism to an adventure game. With this title, Sierra On-Line sets the standards for developing strong female leading roles; Jensen should be praised for her development of an intelligent female role model."
- "The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery for PC". GameSpot. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
- "Gabriel Knight II: The Beast Within". IGN. Retrieved 2010-03-11.
- Staff (June 1996). "1996 Premiere Awards". Computer Gaming World (Ziff-Davis Publishing C.) 143: 55–67.
- Kollar, Phil (2012). "Hunting Shadows: The Rise and Fall of Gabriel Knight". Game Informer (229): 98–99.
- Adventure Classic Gaming (2006). "Dean Erickson Interview". Retrieved 2006.
- "The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- Ravipinto, Dan (23 January 2004). "Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within review". Adventure Gamers. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- Sengstack, Jeff (1 May 1996). "The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- Jong, Philip (26 May 1996). "The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery - Review". Adventure Classic Gaming. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery at the Internet Movie Database
- The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery at MobyGames
- Gabriel Knight: The Beast Within on the Sierra Chest