Frogwares releases its sleuthing adventure game based on the greatest detective of all time Sherlock Homes in the PC and console video game Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishments. With six cases to master, is this first or third person adventure worth undertaking for its asking price. Take a look at our Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishments review for clarity on the matter.
Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishments Review:
Today we’re taking a look at Frogware’s Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishments which released on last and current gen systems alongside the PC. The game offers six cases which involve varying amounts of investigation, puzzle solving and then piecing the clues together to nail the murderer. Each case has Holmes and side kick Watson looking into strange happenings which result in a murder investigation. Sadly, there are no other criminal activities to investigate to mix things up, but that said, the execution in each case does provide some differences keeping the game fresh.
During a case, Holmes is able to talk to suspects, gain nifty character profiles from them, and then freely move around designated areas to find clues and such like using various vision modes and obvious visual cues. It’s a sound set up which seemingly provides some freedoms which is further exemplified by the use of a first or third person viewpoint, putting players directly in the shoes of the great detective. There’s plenty of clicking on objects of interest which are followed by narration from Holmes as items fit the puzzles and become the tools for solving the crimes. The presentation and interface is well made and makes it easy to highlight objects, examine them and then draw conclusions. A handy casebook contains all relevant information with plenty of pointers as to where to go or what to look at next so it’s difficult to get truly stuck especially as there’s a handy skip the puzzle option for those wanting to push the case forwards if the puzzles are too taxing. There’s a fair number of them, but what is neat is how varied they are where one moment players are cracking locks with a rotary style puzzle, and the next using items and chemicals at the lab desk. The variety in general in terms of what players accomplish across the six cases is perhaps the game’s greatest asset as it constantly throws something new in your way.
Moving away from traditional point and click adventuring, the game allows for free movement which means there’s a fair bit of travelling around locations during most cases where often Holmes retreats to his Baker Street home and performs experiments or looks at archives of pertinent newspaper articles and encyclopaedias. Scotland Yard also becomes a regular haunt for interrogating suspects and looking at personal belongings, there’s even a visit to the morgue as you’d expect. Sadly, the transition between locations becomes a long and awkward loading animation with Holmes ,Watson and on occasion the hound Toby cooped up in a carriage en route complete with awkward silence between the characters. Perhaps the idea was to portray pensive reflection, but still, after so many journeys the close ups of the characters can begin to grate. Luckily during these moments, players can access the case book and deduction screens. The issue aside from the frequency of loading is how intrusive they are to the experience and whilst a necessity considering the highly detailed levels, takes players out of the experience somewhat.
In terms of looks the game using Unreal Engine 3 boasts some fine visual qualities which can be marvelled at in first person. There’s plenty of variety across each case with regards to locations making for a visual treat that certainly looks the part. The only real gripe here is the lack of true freedom to move around as many areas use invisible walls or end zones to keep players from wandering into oblivion and deviating from the case. In this regard, it makes the game more streamlined which can be viewed as good thing. Purist will probably find the game a little too easy as a result where an open game would have led to more searching. That said, overall the game runs smoothly for the most part even on lower spec hardware which is good although not the most taxing of games.
The audio is of a high quality with solid performances from all members of the voice cast offering believable characters who rarely give anything away visually. Holmes is naturally the star here voiced by Kerry Shale who sounds impressively British as you’d expect from London’s finest detective. Some of the narrative does feel a little emotionless, but perhaps this is the nature of the Holmes character.
The game offers six cases which result in an obvious conclusion, although that said, there are several alternatives for each case which means replay value is high. Aside from making a moral choice at the end, players can piece all the information together to form a theory. These interlocking segments of the case can be formulated to make a deduction and it’s here where players can experiment for some differing results. That said, depending on skill each case can take well over an hour to complete and some times longer.
Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishments is a solid adventure game that offers a compelling experience thanks to its freedom of movement and perfectly tuned interface. Holmes is a likeable character although somewhat predictable in that he never truly gets stumped simply because the game does a fair bit of hand holding along the way. That said, if you’ve never been interested in point and click adventures then this format is certainly much more agreeable and therefore makes for a good distraction from your normal haunts. For the asking price, the game might feel a bit lacking if you’re a one play gamer, but for those who want to see and do everything then there’s an agreeable number of hours worth on offer.
Score 8/10 – Review by Robert Cram