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Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments Review

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments Review

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments Review

True to the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with a clever system of interaction between Holmes and the player.


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Buy The Testament of Sherlock Holmes


Sherlock Holmes – the first modern superhero. His feats of deduction have enthralled generations and launched the formation of one of the earliest literary fan clubs, the Baker Street Irregulars. It is little wonder that his character can be found throughout the first 8-bit adventure games. And the 16-bit adventure games, and 32-bit, and 64-bit, and multi-core. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a more popular theme within computer gaming. What more could possibly be done with him?

Apparently Frogwares thinks they still have more to add as they have released their latest interpretation of the London Legend with Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, a follow-up up to their 2012 release of The Testament of Sherlock Holmes. They have that right, but they will be judged for their efforts. Yes, and we shall judge them on the following criteria:

  1. How true is the game to the original literary classic?
  2. How is the player brought into the game?
  3. Is it fun to play?

For the first point, they did an excellent job. Holmes is aloof with a bit of an attitude and Watson is straight out of the BBC. The atmosphere and acting are spot on. My only critique is that Inspector Lestrade is very cooperative and actually asks for Holmes’ assistance. The original Lestrade, as Doyle wrote him, was more resentful that a mere citizen would get involved with police business. But overall I had no trouble believing that I was experiencing the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

I’ve always felt that the second point is much more problematic for any developer to effectively implement. The original Sherlock Holmes stories make the reader a simple spectator. A man would walk into the room and Holmes would then describe his clothing, calluses and tattoos, and then explain what they meant. No description was given beforehand which would have allowed readers to attempt their own deduction. This is great entertainment when reading Sherlock Holmes, but makes for a very boring game.

In the past, most developers addressed this issue by having the player play the part of Holmes. This could be fun, but it limited Holmes to the skill level of the player. The game becomes “Bob the Detective” rather than “Holmes the Detective.”

Frogwares addresses the issue by first allowing the player to find all the relevant facts (scar, footprint, mud stain, etc.), which Holmes then proceeds to interpret. It is then up to the player to interpret the clues that result from Holmes’ analysis. For example, the player finds a bullet hole. Holmes notes that it was a very accurate shot from a small pistol. The player must then decide if that implies great skill or great luck. This is actually a very clever way of allowing the player to solve the mysteries while still allowing Holmes to work his magic. Then when all is said and done, the player gets to decide what Holmes will do with the guilty party – deliver them to Her Majesty’s Prison, or let the poor blighter go.

But no matter how clever the concepts are, it all boils down to the third point – did I have fun playing it?

Yes, I did.

The game is actually a montage of five different types of gameplay that are so well-integrated they never become tedious or repetitious. When examining a crime scene it is the classic point-and-click adventure. When analyzing a character it is like a hidden object game. When interviewing a character you can catch them in a lie, but you must logically deduce the specific piece of evidence that exposes them. As clues are collected they must be combined into deductions that eventually identify the culprit. And in addition to these different playing modes there are plenty of logic puzzles scattered throughout. For example, there are locks to be opened and chemical analyses to be performed, to name just a couple.

These different playing modes are thoroughly shuffled together so that you barely finish one task before you move onto a different gameplay style.

The only complaint I have is with the frequent scene-changes. You must frequently travel between Baker Street, Scotland Yard and different sites in London. Each time you request a move the computer takes a minute to load the next scene. Frogwares tries to minimize this interruption by giving you a nice scene of Holmes in the carriage to watch, as well as offering you the opportunity to consult your notebook. But it still happens often enough to be annoying.

That said, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments is still great fun and you get six different cases to solve which include theft, mysterious vanishing and murder most foul.

Final Grade: B+
 True to the spirit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
+ Clever system of interaction between Holmes and the player
+ A great montage of gameplay genres
– Frequency of loading screens could get annoying

Launch Trailer

Minimum PC: 

Memory: 2048 MB RAM
DirectX: Version 9.0c
Hard Drive: 14 GB available space



Bob Washburne

Bob Washburne

I have been playing adventure games since 1979 when I played "Adventure" on the DEC PDP minicomputer at work. The first adventure game I ever purchased was "Zork 1" for CP/M. I can remember the introduction of the IBM PC. I remember the invention of the microcomputer (actually, it was discovered rather than invented). I remember the invention of the minicomputer. Yes, I am an old fart. I have written 80 reviews and articles for JustAdventure starting with my review of "Bioscopia" in February of 2004. I currently own more adventure games than I will ever be able to play, let alone review. And I want more!

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