The Testament of Sherlock Holmes (PC) Review
- Great Story
- Great Mechanics
- Great Atmosphere
The team at Frogwares blends technical achievement with a mastery of knowledge in dealing with the base material. Intriguing game mechanics are dealt out in broad yet refined strokes, blended with beautiful visuals, steeped in rich atmosphere, and set upon a story canvas that is truly Doyle worthy.
“It’s elementary” tagline redacted by better judgment.
I’ve always been a Sherlock Holmes fan, which is why I took to this title with a little apprehension. In the past, I have been let down by the gross way in which different entities treat the classic. Lack of character, lack of atmosphere, or too much reliance on over blown tropes causes me to shiver in disgust.
It is with great pleasure that I say The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is guilty of none of those sins. The team at Frogwares blends technical achievement with a mastery of knowledge in dealing with the base material. Intriguing game mechanics are dealt out in broad yet refined strokes, blended with beautiful visuals, steeped in rich atmosphere, and set upon a story canvas that is truly Doyle worthy.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes takes players through many locations and situations. Some stark, some rich, and some dark and gruesome but all are tempered when seen through the logical eyes of Holmes. All locations are also given depth with many things to read and discover they may or may not be essential to the game. This kind of depth is welcome and allows players to learn more about the story instead of click their way to the end of the game with only a surface level understanding of the story.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is promoted as an “Investigation” game. “Investigation” in this case meaning the standard point and click adventure type game is overlaid with puzzles and logical deduction while some of the annoyances of adventure gaming are left out.
Each location that players encounter have most of the things that are familiar to adventure games. There are items to examine, things to pick up and combine, and puzzles to solve. However, each location is self contained. Items picked up at one scene will rarely be carried over to another. Which means players will not be tasked with picking up random objects and keeping them in their inventory to constantly try to combine them with other things only to trek back to past locations to make sense of some random puzzle. That brings us to one of the better aspects of the game and that is the items you use do make sense. Sometimes there is some grey matter involved but you won’t be using a rubber chicken to loosen a bolt or any such nonsense.
Items and exploration are only a few of the tools in this investigation game.
There are things the player will use, such as chemical tests and books, to do research but my favorite was the deduction board. The deduction board takes clues from the current investigation and allows the player to draw some conclusions about each piece of evidence then slowly build a picture of what happened. As players select a certain path and make deductions about each piece of evidence, they can see if certain things don’t line up and make changes to their theory accordingly. It’s really well done and helps the player to understand what happened instead of just clicking randomly until the scene moves on.
Puzzles are another big aspect of the game. They can be quite challenging but give you the chance to skip them if you get bogged down. I would never suggest doing this but the option is there.
The game also puts you in the shoes of other characters in the game: Sherlock, Watson, and even an old four legged friend. They all control as expected and the player never has to worry about the environment hindering game play by stopping movement or being hard to navigate. Players will not have to worry about doing finger gymnastics to compensate for the camera switching back and forth. There are a few tight spots where the camera will not show you everything in the room, but the game never takes that opportunity to hide something in the corner just out of view.
Voice acting and character design is top notch. Anytime someone can walk buy and guess the who the characters are with only a passing interest speaks well of the game. Sayings like “Is that a Sherlock game?” and “Oh that must be Watson” were common occurrences in the vicinity of the game being played.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes took me back to a time when my family could sit around the computer and use our collective brain power to puzzle out a game and try to guess where the story would go. Games like Realms of the Haunting and the 7th guest come to mind. Frogwares show some skill with being able to capture the spirit of those old games while bringing them into the present. Bravo, chap. Bravo.