“Oh How I’ve Missed You Holmes” | Sherlock Holmes: Crimes And Punishments Review
Mr. Sherlock Holmes is a character that has been able to transcend various forms of media, some instances more well-regarded than others. Of all media, video games are usually the downfall of such adaptations, but Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments seizes the opportunity where there has oft been a void.
“To begin at the beginning” ― Sherlock Holmes | A Study in Scarlet
You control Sherlock Holmes, the quirky, logically sound detective, in six cases that must be solved. The six cases offer a wide array of peculiar circumstances we’ve grown accustomed to solving in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s prose. The murders and mysteries will take you through a labyrinth of clues and leaps of logic that must be gathered and pieced together to solve the case. But, solving a case isn’t simply connecting one dot to another. Try being given three suspects that appear to match the assumptions you’ve made through finding all the clues, only to find that, through the case log after you complete it, you’ve not only falsely accused, but wrongly convicted them entirely. It’s one of the more interesting aspects of the games. Through sleuthing, you feel that you’ve absolutely done your due diligence in the case, found all the clues and the dots connect perfectly. Perfectly to an innocent person of which has only committed the crime of being part of Mr. Holmes’ investigation.
“You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles.” ― Sherlock Holmes | The Boscombe Valley Mystery
Mr. Sherlock Holmes is known for his uncanny methods, of which always work in one way or another. While controlling Holmes can be a bit cumbersome at times, it’s the beloved Watson that seemingly has the sick sense of humor to impede the investigation. Countless times, I’ve run through a door only to find the beloved Doctor standing right in the entryway. “Not so fast Mr. Holmes,” he might as well have said, with a smirk, “we must first dance for you to exit.” The annoyance may be exasperated, but it doesn’t change that fact that the user shouldn’t have to dosi-do around the A.I. in the game. Watson, while being the trusty sidekick of Holmes, really does take the backseat in the game. But, Watsons’ issues aside, the game creates an overwhelmingly effective feeling of actually being the super detective.
Throughout the game, you’ll be whisked away to various locations across London which provide nice and varied locales to visit. But, visiting them may be more time consuming than first imagined. See, it’s not so much the traveling between Baker Street to perform lab analysis, which is carried out as a sort of puzzle and Scotland Yard to interrogate your suspects with a pretty neat questions/profiling system, back and forth, multiple times per case that causes the issue. It’s the amount of time between these steps. When traveling between locations, you’re forced to sit through anywhere between a 10 to 45 second loading screen. While not entirely uncommon for games, you’ll have to sit through them quite often, especially if you miss clues and have to go back and forth more times than you should. While the small annoyance can be dealt with by looking through your case log and attempting to get in the mind of Sherlock Holmes, I encountered some weird performance issues, particularly on one case. From low frame rates to pop-in textures, it was weird, considering the majority of the other cases played out smoothly.
“There is nothing like first-hand evidence.” ― Sherlock Holmes | A Study in Scarlet
Clues, the most important aspect of every investigation, are gathered by simply looking around and clicking ‘X’ when the magnifying glass appears. The collection of any and all clues, from blood splatter to bullet fragments, is of monumental importance when uncovering the truth shrouded in mystery. Holmes’ dialogue is particularly witty and, as he’s become known for, consisting of dry humor. The dialogue, while entertaining, also provides nice signposts for what to do next, without directly telling you where to go, in most situations. While it’s fun finding the clues, the real intrigue occurs when you can further investigate said clues. Certain items can be zoomed in on, and you can turn the object finding small tribbles of information that can make or break the case.
Clues are the heart of the crime scene, but what’s a Holmes murder mystery without a cavalcade of puzzles? And there’s puzzles abound in Crimes and Punishments. From connecting the threads of proof to further substantiate the mystery, to using various clues to reconstruct a crime scene only the way Holmes can, all the puzzles are fun and most importantly, plausible. There’s no need for a guide or extensive Google searches to find the answer, nor will you need to pilfer forums to complete the puzzles. Having said that, some puzzles are difficult and do take time to wrap your mind around. Channeling your inner Sherlock Holmes will do you wonders when trying to pick that difficult lock, or connect the final pieces to the puzzle. But, if this was all you had to solve the mystery, you’d simply be an ordinary detective. And Mr. Holmes can be labeled many many things, but ordinary isn’t one of them.
Holmes possesses an Imagination Talent that allows you to recreate the actions of suspects to help the investigation along. You’ll see a scene play out and, through your keen sense of perception, place the actions of the scenes in the proper order. Thus, leading to a completed sequence that helps answers many questions.
“Everything in this world is relative, my dear Watson.” ― Sherlock Holmes | The Dying Detective
Ah, yes, you’re probably wondering why it’s titled, Crimes and Punishments. Holmes is notorious for getting to the bottom of the mystery with or without the help of Scotland Yard and is interested in one thing, the truth. Once you fit the pieces together, you can absolve the suspect or let them face their crimes. This choice, while not game-changing, does play with your psyche a bit. Is murder ever justifiable? Or should ever murder be met with the rope? Countless times I was stuck staring at the screen going back and forth, rationalizing each decision before choosing the one I felt was right. Even more tormenting though, was that it asks you again, if you’re sure. Giving you one last moment to change your mind. After the final choice has been made, visiting the mantel of your fireplace will leave you will a small letter from the suspect you absolved or condemned, a nice touch that shows that your impact of the case extends beyond that one particular moment.
Frogwares makes a strong case for ‘Crimes and Punishments ‘ being one of the best Holmes games to date, it’s just a shame that they could have put their stamp on the Holmes franchise with a bit more optimization in certain areas. Having said that, if you enjoy Sherlock Holmes and point-and-click adventure games, the evidence warrants a purchase.
+ Holmes Dialogue
+ Overall Atmosphere
+ Sleuthing at it’s finest
+ Evidence making you THINK you have the right suspect
+ Moral choices to conclude cases
– Load times
– Watson being a wall
– Pop-in/frame rate slowdowns