Brave Knight returns

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 March, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 March, 1996, 12:00am

WE didn't need to tell you this was coming, did we? Computer games have a habit of coming out in never-ending sequels, usually getting progressively worse. However - surprise, surprise - along comes The Beast Within to put that belief to rest.

The original Gabriel Knight was an eerily good adventure and was such a bestseller that Sierra quickly worked on a Macintosh version as well.

For those who may not have played the first game, Gabriel Knight used to work in an antique bookshop and was trying his hand - unsuccessfully - at writing mystery novels.

Then he stumbles upon a voodoo cult in latter-day New Orleans and embarks on a thrilling adventure which ends up with him being a best-selling author. He also discovers that he has German ancestry and is a Schattenjagger (witch hunter).

On top of everything else, he inherits a castle in Germany when his uncle dies.

And it is in the castle that The Beast Within carries on the tale - after a breathtaking full-motion video.

On a dark night, as Knight sits tapping away at his ancient and rickety typewriter (you would think that with his inheritance, he could afford a word processor!), some inhabitants from a nearby farm come knocking on his door.

The farmers have come to seek Knight's help after a little girl is attacked and mauled to death by a wolf.

The police think it is the work of escaped wolves from the zoo, but the villagers know that there are werewolves around, and who better to help than a 'schattenjagger' such as Herr Knight.

The ever-accommodating Knight agrees to put aside his unfinished novel and move into the farmhouse to investigate.

As his investigation progresses, he begins to uncover more suspicious people and circumstances.

The Beast Within comes in a whopping six-CD collection and is played over six chapters.

Besides controlling Knight (most of the time), you are also able to control his able and sexy assistant Grace, who works in his bookshop.

Each chapter concentrates on one major task at hand.

For instance, much of the first chapter is devoted to getting Knight into the wolves enclosure at the zoo to 'speak with' the wolves.

Naturally, no one will let him near the wolves, so it requires strategic planning on Knight's part to get in. There is a little side show in chapter two - the ongoing feud between Grace and Gerde, Knight's German housekeeper.

Grace, who has a crush on Knight, is jealous of Gerde and doesn't make it a secret, giving rise to some bitchy spats between the two characters.

The game's puzzles are not too difficult to solve if you have some technical know-how. Knight's tape recorder is a lot more useful than it seems to be and messages might need to be spliced to get tasks completed.

The interface is easy to use: the usual point-and-click, with an inventory panel at the bottom of the screen.

The difference between The Beast Within and Gabriel Knight is that the latter was a graphic-based adventure whereas Beast is an interactive movie.

Dean Erickson plays Gabriel Knight very well. Unlike some other games, most of the scenes are done by the real-life characters and do not switch to graphics every time there is interactivity.

MEGAHINT: You might need a mould of the wolf's footprint you find outside the farmhouse. Perhaps a little wet cement might help. Try looking for some.

MEGAHINT: At the zoo, try to get the zoo-keeper to talk to you so that you can tape the conversation. Splicing and editing his sentences might gain you access to the wolf enclosure.