Game Review: Sherlock Holmes – Crimes & Punishments
Console reviewed: Xbox One
Release Date: (latest) 3 Oct 14
Mode: Single Player
Similarities to: L.A. Noire, CSI
Despite being released in the latter part of 2014, this is my first 2015 gaming victory courtesy of Santa Claus. Solving crimes as Sherlock Holmes not only tested my aptitude, but my moral virtue. You see, this game allows you to be lazy and hasty…to a certain point. There are about a half-dozen crimes to solve and for each one there are multiple outcomes…quite a few possibilities actually. In the end, you can actually put an innocent person in prison, hence the test of moral virtue. Will you ignore the clues to “get your man” and close the file or will you be thorough and ensure justice is served appropriately? The choice is really up to you.
Probably the first thing worth mentioning is that Sherlock is not modeled after Benedict Cumberbatch from the hit show. This is another voice actor filling the celebrated fictional character’s shoes. All the pertinent players are in place, no need to go over that. Let’s talk about the cases. The game starts off with a fairly straightforward case, the only one where I convicted the wrong person. How will I live with myself? Anyway, this is a good case to get a feel for the game. There isn’t anything hurried and as the investigation progresses, the tutorial lets you know what to do. By the time the first case is over and you send an innocent man to prison like I did, you’ll understand the parameters of the game. From there, things get more complicated, but not so complicated it takes the fun of the game. All I can say is that being thorough is the key to solving these crimes. You have to listen to your conversations during interrogations. You have to listen to your conversations with witnesses at the crime scene. They will often clue you in on where to look next. Luckily you carry a notebook with you and everything gets jotted down there in case you forget. I had to refer to the notebook quite a bit.
Overall, the cases were interesting, in-depth, and each had their own path with witnesses, etc. From a harpoon killing to a vanishing train and poison plants, Sherlock has to use all of his abilities to find clues and solve crimes. One of my favorite of his techniques were the moments where he can scan people and learn all about them by the clothes they wear or the smell of their perfume. Sherlock’s keen sense allows him to catch people in lies. Sherlock also has to use his mini lab at Baker Street which can be tricky, but mostly quite solvable puzzles after a few tries. Sherlock has an extensive research library he has to sift through to learn about things to help him solve cases. There are a more tricks up his sleeve, but I don’t want to spoil everything especially the part about using Toby to trace a scent. Oops!
The backdrop to the game is beautiful. The late 1890’s England looks fantastic and the voice acting is precise. The conversations are smooth and well crafted. Rarely does the game leave you wondering what to do next. In some cases, you may think you are done interrogating a witness or a suspect, but discovering new clues sometimes forces Sherlock to go back for further questioning. Keep that in mind.
Graphics and voice acting are excellent. Mechanics are smooth and allow for either 3rd or 1st person view. Varied techniques for solving crimes and/or discovering clues.
Long and frequent load times. However, when riding on the carriage between locations Sherlock is able to deduce clues while the game is loading. Sherlock can also look at his notebook. This eases the suffering a little bit, but for today’s technology this game loads slowly…and it’s mildly irritating
Overall, the game is a gem. It can take a few hours per crime roughly resulting an approximate 10+ hour game. This really depends on how thorough you allow Sherlock to be. In one case you can end it quite quickly, but it’s too obvious that the assumption of guilt, in that particular case, is too soon and requires further investigation. These multiple outcomes give Sherlock a lot of replay value. Based on the strength of this release, I hope to see more. In my case, this was fun for both me and my kids who have all beat the game and thoroughly enjoyed it.