Saturday, 25 June 2016

Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter

Developer Frogwares has been producing games based on the tales of the World’s Greatest Detective Sherlock Holmes games for around fifteen years now, so you would imagine that they had a pretty sound grasp on it by now. Indeed, 2014’s Crimes & Punishments was a solid adventure that ably showcased just what it felt like to step into his sleuthing shoes. Now, with their second foray onto next-generation consoles - Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter – have they really cracked the case, or will this go down as one that got away?


Gone is the austere Sherlock inspired by the classic ITV series, and in comes a more modern take on Holmes. He appears younger and more playful, and Watson sports a thoroughly Hipster moustache. No doubt inspired by the successes of the updated character seen in the Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr vehicles, it feels a bit jarring in The Devil’s Daughter. Nothing else in-game has been brought up-to-date, and this just makes our dynamic duo seem out of place, in Victorian era-London.


The title does do a good job of making the player feel like they are an expert sleuth however, making use of certain unique skills. These include; Sherlock vision – which allows you to spot obscure clues that you might have otherwise missed, imagination – whereby you can piece together different pieces of evidence to visualise what really happened in a case, and your deduction board – which is a flowchart of sorts which players use to organise their thoughts in order to reach a final judgement and decide upon the culprits. Throughout the five extensive cases in Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter, your choices are very important. There will be at least two or three possible suspects and conclusions at the end of each, and what evidence you choose to be pertinent allows you to either convict or liberate whomever you wish – be that judgement ultimately right or wrong.

Pure adventurers might find themselves a bit disappointed though as the game holds your hand a lot more than ever before, prompting you whenever you need to examine your notebook, or if you need to link some theories together on your deduction board. Even each individual piece of evidence you collect will have an icon next to it, telling you what you if it needs further analysis or where it should be used. This really over-simplifies things at times, and even though there are two difficulty settings to choose from, all that really does is make the many mini-games harder, and adds a time limit to your interrogations.

Speaking of mini-games, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is chock full of them. Some or more relevant like mixing different chemicals in order to analyse a blood sample for instance, whereas others not so much. The main problem is that each time a mini-game starts, you are dropped right into it without being given any instructions of the controls or what you are meant to be doing. Be prepared to fail a lot of these mini-games as you work your way through each mission.


These issues are only made worse by the massive load times that crop up between every scene, slowing down the tempo massively even when cases begin to heat up. There is still some really clever puzzle design on offer, and some interesting mysteries to wrap your head around, but the gameplay issues only serve to make Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter feel like a backwards step compared to previous games in the series.

Not Sherlock’s finest work. 3/5.


★★★☆☆


Robin Parker


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