Title: Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: Sep 29, 2014
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, 4 Xbox 360, One PC Steam
The beloved character originally brought to life by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is revised yet again in Frogware’s long series of amazing puzzle games. Enter the mind of the egomaniacal, brilliant, calloused, knowledgeable genius that is Sherlock Holmes as he pieces together subtle hints from a crime scene.
Beginning with talking to a witness, Sherlock slows down the flow of time mid conversation to scan for clues, creating a character profile to use for future reference. Then you visit the actual scene of the crime and scour the details all around, including minor twists that were almost mundane at first, but become crucial key pieces of evidence. You’ll need to be en garde constantly to live up to the name of Sherlock Holmes.
What the game does well: The visuals are, in one word: immersive. Making creative use of the newest Unreal Engine, Frogwares has done a fantastic job of displaying everything around. In fact, there was a point that I—as Sherlock—picked up a wallet and was able to not only rotate it through space to check for clues, but also unfold it, and check inside.
The dialogue is spot on from the original works and the time period is well-researched, deeply accurate, and apropos for the original works of Doyle. You’ll actually feel transported into the life of Sherlock Holmes, being able to whip someone with a witty retort, blatantly misunderstand a simple social cue, and hopefully, solve a crime in a splendidly miraculous fashion.
Puzzle games are constantly evolving all the way from a simple Flash-based Facebook game up to legends like Portal 2, and with the term next-gen coming into play with each new game, I got the feeling that Crimes and Punishments really hit “high marks”.
The 3D feel of the whole game was important. After entering a room, you’ll need to check over high shelves, under beds, inside of cabinets, and all this really makes you feel like you’re in the room yourself. As far as puzzles go, this is what next-gen looks like.
Let’s be clear. This game is a puzzle game. Plain and simple. There will be no action, and the pacing is very slow. I don’t know that I would say it detracts from the gameplay, but I often felt bored, even when involved in tasks. I still don’t consider this a weakness for the game, though. To keep up with the great mind of Holmes can be difficult, so I appreciated the ability to slow things down.
However, this pacing really got in the way of enjoyable gameplay when I would try to examine a scene, I collected the evidence, but it still wouldn’t let me move on because I missed something subtle. This probably says more about my personal patience than the game, but nonetheless, the game is tedious and meticulous during certain tasks.
The third-person movement would probably be my biggest complaint. There were many points where the areas felt cramped because of the camera angles. It was more like I was a little gremlin clinging to Sherlock’s shoulder rather than witnessing the character I was playing.
Until I became adjusted, there was a lot of getting caught on the smallest thing and not being able to move forward. There are very thin walkways that Sherlock is meant to run through, but it felt like bowling down a lane with the gutter guards, ping-ponging back and forth.
Overall, this is a solid game. Great visuals, great gameplay, and aside from a few movement snafus, the game is very enjoyable. Just keep in mind, if you’re an action gamer, you will be very bored with the slow pacing of this game. Broad strokes, think 50’s noir.
9/10 is the final score.