A giant leap from the last outing but not without flaws
Here we have another entry into the world of Sherlock Homes by Frogwares Studio. With quite a number of Sherlock Holmes titles under their belt the series has constantly been getting better with each iteration. Without further undo onto the story shall we?
You begin your adventure in the apartment of Sherlock Holmes who we find none other than Sherlock Holmes at one of his crazy antics involving firing a gun blindfolded in his own living room. Watson questions Sherlock’s behavior and eventually arrive the story arrives at the beginning of the first of 6 cases in this adventure. Some stories have been directly adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories in the original books.
The overall story revolves around a group of people who call themselves ‘Merry Men’ who have a goal of foiling the government.
Each case will involve Sherlock making use of a deduction board as you uncover clues in the crimes involved. The deduction board consists of words that appear and matching these words will bring you to another screen where you can click on icons and choose an appropriate conclusion. Based on your conclusion a path for the icon will take shape and either turn blue and connect with another icon or red showing that there is an inconsistency somewhere. Eventually once all icons are connected they will all merge to a main hub icon where you can choose your final conclusion.
The gameplay is fairy standard as you walk around and look at objects and interact with people with no action with the exception of a few QTE scenes and mini-games. To unearth indications of the truth Sherlock has the ability to scan the environment using a heightened sense of vision with R1. Whenever this ability is necessary an indication will appear at the top of the screen. Another ability that will become a necessity later on is the ability to visualize what happened by using clues in the environment such as a knocked over pot or a scratch on a door by pressing L1. Visual holograms of the criminal will appear and each step in the holograms path must be selected in a logical order in order for this to become canon to a deduction.
As you meet people you are given a set of dialogue to inquire about and an option to do a thorough analysis of the body and face of the individual. Utilizing your cursor you scan over the person and select bits you find to be of use and if it is of importance it will be added to a character portrait. Finding details such as a wedding ring someone is wearing can be useful for certain situations in your line of questioning. Furthermore, Holmes also has his makeup table and wardrobe at your disposable which is necessary for some cases. Sherlock also has his trusty analysis table back at home where he can do chemistry experiments to help identify certain objects.
This leads to one of many mini-games incorporated into this game. These mini-games can be questionable as some are decently solvable but others can be quite perplexing. All these can be skipped after a certain amount of time, but this does not excuse the lack of proper execution for some of these as it cane become habitual to simply skip a puzzle instead of taking the time to solve it. The lack of polish for some of these activities gives the game a slight less professional outlook.
Traveling to destinations is done through utilizing a horse and carriage which triggers as soon as you exit Sherlock’s apartment or another area. This is seemingly in place to mask lengthy loading times as you also do not have the ability to just wander down the street. During these intermissions during travel you are provided with an inside look of the carriage with Sherlock and Watson and the ability to view your notebook to pass the time. All this is well and good but does make the game feel less immersive. Each area visited in the game is not on a very massive scale either and the majority feel quite confined.
Once you choose your final conclusion in the deduction board you can watch the conclusion of your case. You have 2 moral choices you can make for your conclusion which affects your ranking. You have the option to choose another ending if you feel one was not satisfying or does not feel correct. Some cases can end early if not all clues are found.
Graphics can be quite impressive at first especially at close range with the facial detail, but this being a multi-platform title there is definitely some polish missing which is noticeable in the PS4 version. Their is screen-tearing present and an unstable framerate at times. Another nitpick is the facial animations themselves which seem to lack in animation detail. The faces are simply too listless and hampers the performance of the voice actors. The drone like performance of the character models dampens the presentation of this experience overall which is a shame. While this does not challenge modern games of this generation it does an admirable job nonetheless considering this was made with unreal engine 3.
The voice work is quite decent and does a decent job of playing the characters which there are quite a bit of in this title and are all voiced. Furthermore, the music is quite ambient and sets the mood for each scene.
In comparison to the Testament of Sherlock Holmes this does feel like a step forward for the series, but perhaps an more open world environment would have made this venture a bit better. Overall the cases themselves felt satisfying especially for a Sherlock Holmes fan. If the last outing was not your cup of tea (of coffee..) do at least give this one a chance and if was you will surely find enjoyment from this Frogwares entry.
Platform(s): PC, Playstation 3 & 4, Xbox one, and Xbox 360