Much has been written and reviewed about Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Even a huge Hollywood movie is coming out this May with Tom Hanks directed by Ron Howard (if I am sure). However, the most possible inspiration of this book remains unsung - and that, as many of you must be knowing, is Jane Jensen's 1999 superhit computer game Gabriel Knight III - Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned. To those who have already played Gabriel Knight III, The Da Vinci Code becomes just a futile exercise in Hollywood style tubthumping.Gabriel Knight III is centred in Rennes-le-Chateau, the enigmatic French village suspected to contain the Holy Grail. The main characters, Gabriel Knight and Grace Nakimura gradually investigate and unearth the biggest mystery mankind has known (or not known). The bleakness of the atmosphere and the brooding music set an eerie atmosphere to the game and highly accentuate its mystery factor. In sharp contrast, The Da Vinci Code's Robert Langdon and Sophie Neuveu indulge in a chase drama from one country to the other, thus diluting the impact of the Grail mystery. The novel has been written somewhat jerkily - there are adventure moments, and then sudden relapses into sermonizing about the Grail. What is absent is a continuum between the adventure and the mystery unfolding. The description of the Templars, the Freemasons and the significance of the Grail itself may be intriguing to someone who hasn't heard about it before; it does not rivet the knowledgeable reader's attention.Though superiorly ahead of its times, Gabriel Knight III was flawed in its graphics and its user interface. Maybe that deterred many people from playing the game. However, to those who diligently played it, there was an entire inbuilt encyclopedia (Sidney) within the game, which had vivid information about various aspects of the Grail.
It highlighted the connections between the British crown and the Grail mystery. The information divulged in The Da Vinci Code is criticized by many to be conveniently manipulated and distorted from historic facts. Several things are just lifted from other sources - like the cinquefois significance - and the play on words: San Greal is nothing but Sang Real. However, it cannot be denied that The Da Vinci Code is a world blockbuster, while Gabriel Knight III is not. The reason could be the reach of computers wasn't as widespread in the 90s as it is today. Also, Sierra, the makers of the game were themselves undergoing a phase of introspection and more focusing on their major release Half Life. The Da Vinci Code wins because it blends adventure with suspense (though somewhat convolutedly) and that is always a triumph. Yet, the onus of the plot cannot rest entirely on Dan Brown. The book is heavily borrowed from the game as well as an early work titled Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Henry Lincoln and Richard Leigh (which could well be the inspiration for Gabriel Knight III).To those who do not know what the Grail mystery is all about, I highly recommend reading the book. But if you have access to a Gabriel Knight III CD, then a better option would be playing the game first. Either of them are sure to leave an indelible mark on your minds forever.