Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments is a detective adventure game from developer Frogwares. Set in London, Crimes and Punishments puts the player in the shoes of the titular protagonist and must solve six wonderfully well-written and increasingly intriguing cases.
Seeing as this is a detective game, a bulk of it involves exploring crime scenes and other areas of interest in search of clues. The game’s newest mechanics do a pretty good job of letting the player BE the famous detective. Activating ‘Sherlock Talent’ for example, will allow you locate clues that others (Looking at you Lestrade) might have otherwise over looked. It functions similarly to Batman’s Detective vision and is a welcomed edition, though the game always tells you when is the right time to use it. It would have been nice to turn that off. Using Holmes’ imagination will reconstruct a suspect or victim’s movement at a specific location to determine what exactly went down. It is a cool feature that isn’t utilized too much.
Holmes will also interrogate suspects and question witnesses to help further his investigations. During these interactive conversations, players can utilize Sherlock’s keen skills of observation, which allow him to learn more about the person’s life. These little details prove to be very vital, as they expand the conversations, giving you the opportunity to learn even more valuable clues to aid in your investigation.
Players will have to analyze certain items back at Holmes’ establishment, research other items of interest and perform experiments in order to gain even more clues. These mini-puzzles add some variety to the game’s mechanics but certain ones such as lock picking can range from very easy to annoyingly difficult and some times even boring. Thankfully, you can skip them with the push of a button.
Holmes’ Observational skills in action
Gathering all these clues don’t mean a thing, if you do nothing with them. Using ‘Deduction Space’ — which cleverly presents the clues as neurons in Sherlock’s brain, players will connect them to form deductions. As multiple deductions are linked together, possible outcomes present themselves and once you piece together enough clues, you’ll come to a potential conclusion.
Thankfully the game doesn’t solve the cases for you, no it is up to the player to make the decision based on the clues he/she has gathered. The great thing about of all of this, is you can make the wrong deductions and come to the wrong conclusion. Each case features multiple conclusions but only one of them is the correct one. This pushes the player to be very thorough in their search for clues and to take the time and really think when connecting the dots. If you discover that you came to the wrong conclusion, you can always redo the level and try for a different ending.
To spice things up, the game presents the players with morality choices. Once you’ve decided on who the culprit is, you must choose to have Sherlock either condemn them for their actions or absolve them. Sadly the results of your actions feel like an afterthought and don’t really resonate all that much with the player, if at all. You may receive a letter thanking Holmes for how he handled a case or read a small post in the newspaper celebrating his actions but that’s as deep as it goes with practically no emotion to really drive it home.
If this guy wasn’t dead, he probably wouldn’t approve of Holmes’ finger pointing.
All this detective work would be a waste of time if the mysteries themselves were boring. Thankfully this isn’t the case (Pun intended), far from it in fact. Each crime varies from the last and manages to be even more intriguing than the next. Despite the occasional moments of boredom, I found it difficult to put the controller down. When I did, it was only for a minute or two, as I was hooked and determined to figure out who was responsible and bring him or her, to justice. It helps that the writing is superb, the voice acting of equal quality and the developers did a great job capturing the tone and style of the game’s time period.
My only complaint when it comes to the six cases, is that they aren’t connected into one overarching mystery. They are individual stories and while a certain group is mentioned early on the game, they are left in the background until the conclusion of the final case. When the game decides to focus on them again, it feels some what random. It does become even more interesting when it gets to that point, which makes it a bit disappointing that this group wasn’t featured more prominently.
Fans of previous Sherlock Holmes titles will be glad to know that Crimes and Punishments runs on Unreal Engine 3 this time around. The series has been given a much needed face lift, thanks to wonderfully detailed environments and character models. Honestly I never played a Sherlock game before but I knew they weren’t the best looking titles out there. I was surprised at how great this game looks.
Final Verdict: Despite its flaws, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments is an undoubtedly fun game. It does a wonderful job putting the player in the detective’s shoes. The mysteries are intriguing, and the voice work is top notch. Plus it looks great and features a good amount of replay value. Fans of Sherlock Holmes and the detective genre in general should buy this game. That’s Elementary.
Overall Score: 8/10
RGN Rating: Silver Game
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Available on: PC | PS3 | PS4 | Xbox One | Xbox 360
Played on: Sony’s PlayStation 4
Review copy info: A digital copy of this game was provided to RealGamerNewz by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Editor’s Note: RealGamerNewZ has moved web servers, some older posts can no longer be commented on and have been preserved without their images. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. This article was written by Jermain Jackson on 20141012 and was last modified on 20141012 .