The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery (also known as Gabriel Knight 2 or GK2) is a computer 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 and led to a linear storyline. The third Gabriel Knight game used a rendered 3D engine a few years later instead.
The game was released for PC and Macintosh. The Macintosh version used 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 is a point-and-click adventure game, played from a third-person perspective.
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, his less-than-trusting assistant. Knight 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 (The 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).
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.
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 an original opera libretto for the story entitled "Der Fluch Des Engelhart" ("The Curse of Engelhart").
In Sins of the Fathers, when he uncovers the Schattenjäger library in Schloss Ritter, Gabriel can examine the bookshelves to browse their contents. Among the books he finds are reference material alluding to werewolves and vampires—which would turn out to be the supernatural antagonists in his next two games.
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 (strangely those messages were in German although nothing else was). When the game was later released in its localized German version it was uncensored and branded "suitable for players aged 16 and above".