Back in 2014 Frogware brought to us an amazing look into the world of Sherlock Holmes with Crimes and Punishment (The first of their series I had played) which for any fan of the great detective was a must have game and one I personally enjoyed very much. You could imagine the smile that came across my face once I heard that another title was coming to the series in the form of The Devil’s Daughter. Here we are thrown back into London through the eyes of one of the greatest detectives in the world with the aid of his most loyal friend Dr John Watson where you will be given five cases to solve from kidnap to murder. Within this there is also an exciting and twisting main narrative unveiling itself around your daughter Kate and the new neighbour Alice De Bouvier.
Through all the books I have read by Arthur Conan Doyle about Sherlock Holmes, it feels that The Devil’s Daughter has captured the characters well in look and feel to how I have always imagined them. With Sherlock you have the eccentric attitude thrust upon you instantly as Watson explains to their new neighbour that Holmes attitude is a form of illness that grasps him when he finds himself with nothing to do causing him to become asocial. Watson himself playing the more understanding and caring of the two towards people who they encounter perfectly shows the relationship they hold and how they work well together. This is something that keeps up through the game as you witness Watson being the level headed half of the team and Sherlock the focused detective with little care for anything other than the case. One thing that was disappointing is that Watson does seem to be away from the story more often than not and I would have liked to have seen him play a more involved role. The story itself is very well written and feels like it has been pulled straight from Doyle’s archives. The characters all work well together and there are even some out of character emotions between Kate and Sherlock that were done beautifully. I am also happy to say that another re-occuring character is back in the form of Lestrade, the not so capable Inspector who suffers a lot of criticism from Sherlock, some of which is quite comical.
The game looks to have expanded quite a bit since Crimes and Punishment, previously all travel was done by fast travel or finding a cart close by. When leaving Baker Street for the first time here I realised that you could actually go and explore the streets more. This was something that was a problem with the previous game and made you feel quite restricted. Admittedly the majority of the game is still set in these small map areas that are quite liner but this was a pleasant surprise to have with a lot of NPC characters getting on with their daily lives. For a game that was created using the Unreal Engine 3 (Same engine the original Gear of War was crafted in) it is something very beautiful indeed from the interior of Baker Street to the dark and filthy streets of White Chapel. You will find yourself not only exploring locations for the reason of solving a case but also just to enjoy the world going on around you. There were only minor issues with the graphics where some characters would appear a bit flat or slightly broken but overall it brought a real vision to look of London of that time from the market stores to the street urchins.
Gameplay has stuck with what it is good at by bringing back the use of Sherlock’s deduction skills which I spoke about in the previous review. When meeting a new character or suspect for the first time you will get the option to build a profile about them before any conversation is started. This will require you to scan them while picking up points of their person to give you an insight into their character. Some of these observations will give you a choice to decide for yourself what they mean which can then lead to an incorrect portrayal hindering your choices. While speaking with characters there will be times you can use a piece of evidence that you have located to persuade your questioning forward, again this is choice based and can affect further evidence.
The powers of deduction will not only be used in questioning but also when out on the field during a case. This can used in multiple ways such as playing out a scene using your imagination requiring you to select the order a situation played out to confirm it’s outcome. Taking closer inspection of a area will allow you to see things that are not instant to the naked eye, like scratches on a wall that can lead to a switch opening a secret room or uncovering details on a covered up photograph. As great as these mechanics are in the game nothing keeps me thinking and backtracking quite as much as the final deduction part of each case. You have collected all the required evidence (Hopefully!) and it is now time to piece it all together in Sherlocks’ mind, where you will have a few pieces that are set in stone but most will require your calculation to piece together and work out the guilty party. Not only that but once you have finally decided on the who, you then need to make a moral choice for punishment. I won’t lie there were a couple of cases that I sat for a while weighing up the choices in my mind before finally committing and I loved that, added another level to insight.
Aside from the deduction and general investigation there are multiple mini-games to face and not all of them will be as Sherlock. At times you will take control of Wiggins, a street urchin who Sherlock uses in his cases to follow characters through stealth and also his faithful sniffer dog Toby who is used for tracking scents to clues. Back in Backer Street the archives are at your disposal for researching clues and his chemical set table for unmasking secrets within photos and bloodstains. I personally enjoyed the rather splendid game of bowls that you get to play for no reason at all but I won that game and I will be claiming that for the rest of time.
Overall the game has really fed my hunger for a great Sherlock adventure, there are very few faults that can be seen other than the occasional graphic error or glitch that I witnessed with Wiggins where I had supposedly suffocated but still got taken to the next scene in the game. You will have plenty to think about and many choices that you will back track over before making that critical final decision. This really is one for any detective or fan of the Sherlock series and it has done a great justice to the characters and ongoing stories that will unfold. Even to just watch another person play through this would be very enjoyable watch. I even asked my better half her opinion on one of the moral choices that I had made in a case which ended in us discussing at length ending with us coming to the same conclusion. It has been a while since I have played a game that has brought that kind of interaction to the table. Try it for yourself and let us know your thoughts.