I am personally a massive fan of Sherlock Holmes across all platforms whether this be a novel, film or TV series. It had occurred to me that I had never actually delved into a game version of the series. I saw that Crimes and Punishments was available and jumped straight into it. Developer Frogwares have done a great job in capturing the feel of Holmes and Watson and the whole depressing Victorian era which has all been brought to life with the Unreal Engine 3.
The game places you in control of the famed straight-faced and slightly smug detective Sherlock Holmes where over the course of six well written and in-depth cases you will have your deductive skills put through the pace as you try to solve a series of murders. Do not be fooled this game will also put your morals to the test. When finally completing a case not only can your accusations be placed onto the wrong suspect but you can also choose how they are judged, this could be through mercy and understanding or by the full justice of the law. During your adventures you will also be joined by a couple of well-known characters including the more obvious Dr Watson, a slightly moronic Inspector Lestrade and Sherlocks very own brother Mycroft.
You start out your adventure in the only place that a Sherlock mystery can, good old 221B Baker Street. you are put in control of Sherlock from a third person view like such titles as Tomb Raider and Batman: Arkham series. You do not have as much free roam as those titles which can be a bit painful but it does keep you on track with the task at hand does stop you wandering off and getting lost in the beautiful scenery (This is a puzzle game after all). The cases themselves are quite interesting and open up as you investigate into a more detailed tale of lies and deceit which does lead to a lot of back tracking in your head and can make you question your choices in the case you are working on. One thing to note is that the cases you will be taking on are not connected and are a lot more like the short stories that are published by Watson through the novels so don’t expect there to be an underlying story that the game is building too. It is a nice change of pace from the huge open world games that we are so used to these days. You can actually finish a case and feel really accomplished.
When investigating an area you will find that locating clues and persons to question will be quite easy but do not be fooled you will be sent around the houses to makes sense of evidence and also be put through some interesting mini games that will involve such things like harpooning a pig or mixing chemicals in your and cracking locks. Once you have started to get some evidence together you will be introduced to the deduction system. This system is a really interesting mechanic that will link all of your collected information together that will give you choices to make that will ultimately lead to your final decision and choice of guilty party. This system can actually be pretty vague and has the ability as I said before to have you choose an incorrect person who you can put forward for the crime at hand. Fear not though even after you have finalised your choice and played out the ending you can go back and reply this to see how else it could play out (if you really are concerned you can check your decision and confirm if correct before finalising).
I would highly recommend this title to any Sherlock fans out there, you are really put you into the detectives mind and get to experience the world from his point of view. The story writing is strong and is done in a way that will have you back tracking time and time again over your thoughts and decisions as you start to locate further evidence. The mini games vary in difficulty and can at times be quite frustrating, they can be skipped but if you are like me determination rules out the use of the skip button. The game is very rich in visuals and story. It has that feeling from the games brought to you by Telltale.I am seriously sold with the deduction mechanic and hope that this sort of idea can be implemented into further games and titles as it really gives new way of problem solving that I haven’t previously seen in a game.