Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned
|Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned|
|Release||November 19, 1999|
Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned is a point-and-click adventure game, developed by Sierra Studios, and is the third title in the Gabriel Knight series. The game was designed by Jane Jensen, and was released in 1999 for PCs and again in 2001 as a part of Sierra's Best Seller Series; it was also re-released in 2010 on GOG.com and in 2016 on Steam. The plot sees Gabriel Knight and his assistant Grace Nakimura attempting to track down an infant that had been abducted from the home of a Scottish family of nobles, and features various religious, mythological and historical elements in the story - primarily vampires, the fabled legend of the Holy Grail, the Knights Templar, the Freemasons and the Priory of Sion, and Jesus.
While the previous installments focused on different graphic designs, in that the first featured computer-generated, partially rotoscoped graphics and scanned comic book art, while the second was done entirely in full motion video, Gabriel Knight 3 is the first game in the series to be in full 3D. In a departure from the previous two entries, the score was composed by David Henry, who expanded upon some of the themes created by Robert Holmes, while the game saw Tim Curry return in the role of Gabriel Knight; the voice actors for Grace and Mosely were recast. The game was released shortly after the crash of the adventure video game industry, but could not match the critical and financial success of its two predecessors, making it the last adventure game to be published by Sierra.
Gabriel Knight 3 is played from a third-person perspective, and uses a basic point-and-click interface for most actions in the game, while players have full control over the camera in regards to positioning and angle, although it cannot go beyond the location it is in and is fixed during dialogue between characters and in pre-scripted sequences; in these moments, the viewpoint moves independently of the player character. When the character is not in view of the camera and is some distance from it when they are moved, they will teleport to a spot directly close to the camera before appearing on screen. When the player interacts with something in the main character's location, such as a person or an object, an action bar appears with various verbal commands that the character can do with the object, such as picking something up, reading a book, thinking about it, or talking to a person; when in conversation with a person that the character wishes to question, the subjects that they can ask or talk about appear within a similar style of action bar. At certain points in the game, the player may venture out onto the regional map of the area and explore different locations, with more added upon them being uncovered during the course of the game.
The game's story plays out in a linearly sequence of 'time-blocks'. Much like Sins of the Father, each block consists of a number of required actions that must be completed in order to move on to the next segment, though players can perform these in a non-linear fashion. Time will shift in two ways, with both signalled by the sound of a ticking clock - a major shift between segments, in which players can save the game before continuing, and a minor shift within the segment which can subtle changes in what can be witnessed, such as a character who was in their hotel room now sitting in the lobby having a drink. While the game offers a hint system, it is designed only to provide clues to locations that need to be visited on the regional map, or provide assistance with the major puzzle of the game. Like traditional Sierra adventure games, such as King's Quest, a scoring system keeps track of the points earned, both for required actions and optional ones that are available in specific time segments, although no reward is given for ending the game with a full score.
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Four years after the events of The Beast Within, Gabriel Knight and his assistant, Grace, travel to Paris on the invitation of Prince James of Albany, a descendant of the House of Stuart, who seeks their help in protecting his infant son Charlie from beings called "Night Visitors"—bizarre vampire-like creatures that have plagued James' family. Charlie is soon kidnapped by two strange men on their first night, and Gabriel, forced to leave his assistant behind, pursues them onto a train bound for Southern France. Knocked out by the kidnappers, Gabriel awakens some time later upon the train stopping at Couiza, whereupon a night porter helps him to a hotel in Rennes-le-Château, but not before confirming that the kidnappers left the train at the same stop. The following morning, Gabriel contacts Prince James about what happened and his current location, only to be asked to investigate the kidnapping until his men can take over that evening, while also running into Mosely, his old friend from New Orleans, who reveals he is on vacation with a treasure hunting tour group. Discussing the case with him, Gabriel suspects that one of the group—Madeline Buthane, the group's leader; British actress Lady Howard and her friend Estelle Stiles; Australian treasure seeker John Wilkes; Italian tourist Vito Buchelli; and former Middle-Eastern tourist Emilio Baza—might be involved in the kidnapping, as they all arrived the same night he did. After reuniting with Grace that evening, Gabriel decides to not drop the case, and tails his replacements, whereupon he witnesses them make heated accusations against the town's local church curator, Abbe Arnaud, over the kidnapping, while greeting Larry Chester, a Scottish scholar researching the regions ties to the Knight Templars, with a Masonic handshake at his home in the valley.
The next day, while Gabriel stays behind to search for clues, Grace joins the tour group to investigate the kidnapping's connection to the region's treasure, with the group visiting various sites, including a vineyard that leaves her uneasy. Shortly after visiting the vineyard, the tour group come across the gruesome sight of James' men, both of whom had their throats slit and their bodies drained of blood. After investigating the crime scene and relaying the bad news to James, Gabriel confronts Larry over what he witnessed the previous evening and his connection to the Freemasons, and after being forced to leave, witnesses him plan something for later that night. At Grace's insistence that the vineyard the group visited has significance to their case, Gabriel, under the guise of a journalist, meets with its owner Excelsior Montreaux, and notes an oddness in some of his answers, particularly with wine and viticulture. In the evening, while Gabriel spends it with Mosely and later with Madeline, Grace continues her investigation into the treasure, and comes across an envelope taped to the door of the town's museum that contains "Le Serpent Rouge"—a document filled with riddles, which she had learned about on the tour. After solving some of its initial riddles, Wilkes invites her to join him in celebrating something important he had uncovered, which Grace accepts only in the interest of learning what he discovered, but leaves him after he makes a drunken pass at her. Later that night, Gabriel uncovers a manuscript from behind Larry's house after witnessing him bury it, discovering its topic concerns Jesus Christ having descendants, with James' family being among them. Upon returning to the hotel with it, a nightmare about vampires finally forces him to slip into bed with Grace and sleep with her.
The following day, Grace manages to locate the treasure through completing the remaining riddles of "Le Serpent Rouge". Meanwhile, Gabriel confronts Larry over the manuscript, and later finds Wilkes' body out in the valley, having been murdered in the same fashion as James' men. Both he and Grace later confront Mosely, Madeline and Buchelli at the hotel, accusing them of stealing the manuscript after it disappears, with the latter burying it in the valley. All three reveal the truth behind who they are—Buchelli is exposed as a Vatican priest, who reveals that he came to the region to uncover any possible attempts to damage the Catholic Church; Madeline is uncovered to be an agent of the French Internal Secret Service, who was investigating the sudden interest in conducting an excavation in the area; while Mosely reveals himself to be with the CIA, investigating the secret societies in the region as a matter of national security for the United States. Gabriel further suspects that Arnaud is a priest for the Priory of Sion, an offshoot of the Templars, but that his group weren't involved in the kidnapping, while Grace believes the other members of the group are purely harmless. After returning the manuscript to Prince James, who had recently arrived in Rennes-le-Château, and discussing its content with him, Gabriel meets with Montreaux once again at his vineyard. The second meeting proves very unsettling, and Gabriel soon uncovers evidence connecting him to the kidnapping, before fleeing when one of the kidnappers arrives and spots him.
Whilst waiting for Gabriel to return, Grace confronts Emilio in his room over a meeting she witnessed in the church graveyard between him and Mesmi, Prince James' manservant, suspecting that he was responsible for leaving the document that she found. Emilio reveals this to be the case and explains that Mesmi is a member of the Magi, a brotherhood that had aided Jesus in guiding him to be a divine figure, but who could not stop him from going forward with a number of prophecies that would end with his crucifixion. A rogue group who were expelled over seeking to be one with the messiah by stealing his blood for their own ends, learned that Jesus agreed to provide children at the Magi's request, and after his crucifixion, began seeking them, becoming vampires as a direct result. Realising that Charlie could give them enough to become the rulers of the world, Emilio, unable to directly assist the pair without exposing himself to danger, secretly aided Grace and Gabriel in their investigations. After Gabriel returns, he, Mosely and Mesmi, head for the temple that Grace uncovered during her search for the treasure, while she and Emilio stay behind. While they are away, Emilio reveals the full truth about himself: a former magi, Emilio originally was known as Ali, a young boy who had been greatly devoted to Jesus, and who had exposed the rogue group to his father. Their belief, however, caused him, out of despair of losing the hope that the messiah gave, to drink his blood and became immortal. He soon regretted his actions and vowed to never use the power he gained, forever walking in anonymity as the "Wandering Jew". Learning that the temple's treasure is at risk, Emilio reveals his intention to remove it upon the child being saved.
Reaching the heart of the temple, after passing the traps and tests, Gabriel soon arrives to find Montreuax in the process of sacrificing the infant. Spotting his presence, Montreaux summons the temple's guardian, the demon Asmodeus, to kill him, only for Gabriel to defeat it with his Schattenjäger dagger, killing Montreaux in the process. With the infant unharmed and given to Mesmi, both Gabriel and Mosely open a tomb lying nearby, whereupon the truth behind Gabriel's lineage is revealed to him in a vision. Shortly afterwards, Emilio arrives and removes the tomb's contents, but not before its secret is passed onto James' son, identifying his lineage. Upon returning to the hotel, the tour group, hotel staff and the Abbe await in the lobby, and quickly ask about what happened, learning of the child's safety. Although Madeline tries to flirt with Gabriel during the moment, he rejects her advances. Gabriel returns to his room to check in on Grace, only to find she has left, having headed out to follow her own path at the suggestion of Emilio, much to Gabriel's sorrow.
Jane Jensen began designing Gabriel Knight 3 in December 1996. By the time work began on Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned, it was already clear to the development team that it would be the final Gabriel Knight game. Jane Jensen remarked that "We were the last dinosaur on the block. We had until the game shipped, and then it would be over." Nonetheless, Sierra felt the series should move to 3D graphics to keep up with the times. The development team had little experience with or understanding of the format; when programmer Scott Bilas was brought on board mid-production, he was told that the game was nearly finished, only to find that the team had left out a number of features that were needed to make the game playable. The game was announced in mid-August 1997.
The team's struggles with the technology led to a number of delays. Alluding to an infamous puzzle early in the game in which Knight must use tape to get hair from a cat and use it to make a fake mustache, Bilas recalled, "It was terrible! There was something that Jane [Jensen] wanted to do that was just too hard, too expensive, too complicated to make it happen. I think our producer came up with the cat puzzle [as a replacement]. I'm pretty sure Jane didn't like it. None of the developers liked it, but we were really late and needed to get something in there."
The game's score was composed by David Henry, based on themes created by the series' original composer, Robert Holmes. 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 Gabriel Knight 3 it can be heard in the San Greal Tavern in Rennes-les-Bains.
In May 2000, Jane Jensen remarked that the "sales of Gabriel Knight 3 were not sufficient to offset the cost of development given that we had to build a new engine."
Jeff Lundrigan reviewed the PC version of the game for Next Generation, rating it four stars out of five, and stated that "It's a cliché, but: if you really are into adventure games - and one heck of a puzzle solver - man, is this a rare treat."
Gabriel Knight 3 received fairly positive reviews from critics. IGN said the game "proves that adventure games still have some life left in them" and provides "a welcome change for the action-heavy PC market" with "[an] excellent story and well worked out plot". At the same time, they criticized Tim Curry's voice-over, "a cold and over-exaggerated interpretation of the southern accent", and the switch to 3D which they felt "is not yet ready to depict the emotions and feelings in the way actors can". GameSpot attested the sentiments about Curry's "terrible acting job", calling the "fake accent and overly dramatic delivery [...] almost unbearable". The dialogue was also criticized, as were the puzzles, the latter which fortunately "get better as the story progresses". The story itself was more positively received, including "some excellent plot elements" and "fascinating" connections between fact and fiction. Adventure Gamers found some of the smaller puzzles "outright silly", but at the same time the vast Le Serpent Rouge "one of the best-designed puzzles in adventure gaming history". The storyline with its "interesting narratives" was called "epic in every sense of the word" and the game "ultimately a success".
Gabriel Knight 3 was named the best computer adventure game of 1999 by Computer Games Strategy Plus and CNET Gamecenter, and was a runner-up for Computer Gaming World's, The Electric Playground's, GameSpot's, GameSpy's and the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences' awards in this category. The editors of Computer Games wrote, "While the game does, at times, feature some klunky dialogue, over-the-top acting, and weak 3D graphics, it delivers a compelling universe, one that's well-realized and filled with detail."
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