Creepy detective adventure, that will keep you guessing
Sherlock Holmes is about as well known a character as Oliver Twist or Captain Kirk or Bart Simpson. His exploits have enthralled generations of kids and adults alike. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle came up with his cap wearing, drug addicted detective, he broke the mould. This is why old Sherlock is as popular today as ever. As well as the books, there are now films, TV spin off’s and of course computer games.
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, the third instalment from Frogwares Game Development Company, sees Holmes and Watson investigating a series of kidnappings that seem to have something to do with a group of Cthulhu worshippers.
The Awakened is a kind of FPS style point and click adventure, that has the player taking control of Holmes and at times as Watson, searching the environment for clues, talking to the locals and conducting experiments in Holmes’ famous 221 B Baker Street flat. As you look around you will see a cursor appear over areas that you can interact with, such as doors that can be opened or clues that need to be examined closer.
Most of the game is spent searching for clues and believe me this is no easy feat! You have to really examine everything. The first chapter has you measuring foot prints, looking for fibres in railings, finding fish scales and more. If a clue needs really close examination you get a zoomed in view and In true Sherlock Holmes style, there is a magnifying glass at hand, to help you get even closer.
This may sound a bit hardcore and maybe tedious and to start with it was. That was because I was approaching it like a normal 2D point and click adventure. Click everything, combine everything in my inventory, repeat. However, after a little side investigation near the start of the game, I realised I was going about it all the wrong way. After finding some shoe leather scuffs in the local book store and a few other little clues, Holmes rather smugly informs the owner that he knows all about his new shoes that he is wearing that are meant to impress the local florist. At that moment I realised that I was Holmes. I needed to look at things the way Holmes would, follow the clues logically, not just randomly click on stuff! Follow the footprints, realise there are 2 sets and that if they hopped over the fence there may be torn clothing!
Once I got that, the game became really engrossing!
From the out set it is clear that the developers have spent a lot of time perfecting the feel of a Sherlock Holmes adventure. With a blend of blunt logical coldness and razor sharp attention to detail, Holmes feels as though he has just jumped off the pages of one of his classic adventures. The story line is creepy and well told, with a variety of puzzles and locations to keep it interesting through out. The characters are well developed, even if the voice acting is a little cheesy at times!
For the most part the game keeps your attention, however some of the cut scenes are a bit long winded. Also at times I felt that I was not involved. For instance in the book store scenario I mentioned, the conclusion to all of the clues was made for me, I clicked the last clue and was taken to a Cut Scene and told what I had found and what the deductions were. Also the graphics are something of a let down in places. Whilst the locations tend to look great, if unpopulated (apparently Baker Street and the surrounding area only has about 5 inhabitants!), the characters don’t look to hot. This is especially true of the faces and the facial animations.
That aside, this is a great little adventure. The puzzles are solvable with a bit of thought, the story is well developed and the feeling of being in a Sherlock Holmes book is rarely interrupted, once you get into how the game works!
The Bad: Hard going at first, some puzzles are a bit to clever for their own good, can feel like you are not all that involved.