previews\ Oct 6, 2011 at 9:13 am

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes Preview


Sir Arthur Doyle’s long-standing, literary classic Sherlock Holmes is such a standard in print, film, and television that it stands odd that the greatest detective to never live has never been the biggest name in gaming. Between all of the crime-solving and puzzle-deducting, you'd think the man from Baker Street would be more popular in games.

Frogwares is a development studio that has worked hard to bring Sherlock to life in the hands of gamers. With five titles currently available, and Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper acting as the most recent entry in the franchise, it is important to see this literary classic come together as something worth playing.

Previous Sherlock Holmes games from Frogwares review middle of the road, as players complained that the previous titles had graphical issues and too-linear story progression with no leeway. Frogwares is hoping to fix this with The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, due early next year.

Like previous Sherlock Holmes adventure games, Sherlock and his friend Dr. Watson are presented with murders and crime, brought on board to solve the most teasing of London’s criminal activities. Like previous titles, Sherlock will be tasked with walking around crime scenes, discovering clues, interviewing people, and solving puzzles.

One early scene involved Sherlock looking through the sitting room of a Marquis to discover the status of a lost necklace. It turns out it had been hidden by a monkey. Unfortunately, the next day it is discovered that the necklace is in fact a fake, requiring Sherlock to find faults with the necklace to determine whether or not the necklace was real.

It’s all fairly standard stuff for adventure games, and any fan of a puzzle-heavy adventure game should find themselves comfortable with the gameplay. Those new to adventure games will also find a new assisting guide that has a 15 second cooldown, so players will never be that far off from a solution to a puzzle.

There are some new gameplay features to the game. Firstly, there are three perspectives to play.  PC gamers can use a traditional point and click method. Additionally, they and their Xbox 360 and PS3 console brethren can use a third=person direct control method and a first-person method. First-person is a great way to explore areas, as the game world looks rather lovely in a grungy London way. The character models are the best in the franchise, although the facial animations are a little wooden.

Finally, the biggest update to the franchise is the reinvention of Sherlock himself. Early on, a newspaper begins to report that he is a fraud and a liar, and that all of his success is due to his own manipulative ways. Thus, for The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, players are saving Sherlock’s own credibility.

The idea of credibility is a big element of the game, as Sherlock has become darker and more menacing. Unlike the book version, Sherlock isn’t afraid to blackmail, fight, or perform other “dark” actions, something that causes Watson to question his friend. It’s an interesting and potentially compelling story element, one I’m curious to see pan out.

Frogwares is working hard to make a great adventure game with a fantastic license, and I think they are on the right track. Launching on everything from Onlive to Steam to PC to Xbox 360 to PS3, there will be plenty of options for those looking to get their Sherlock fix in life. There is some strong ambition here, and like Sherlock himself, Frogwares will need to tease out what is great about Doyle’s long-standing detective.

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