Jul 03 2017

Late Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter Review

I was looking forward to this latest iteration in the Sherlock Holmes game series developed by Frogwares. There is an improvement in graphics, some interesting cases, and an all round well-intentioned game up until you complete the game after only 3 cases and feel ripped off.

What a bastard.

Crimes & Punishments is the only other Sherlock Holmes game that I played out of something like 8 releases, thanks to PlayStation Plus releasing it for free a few years back. Being a fan of Sherlock Holmes and the many TV shows, it didn’t take any persuasion at all to download this and have a go. Now it was obvious that the game was made by a small studio, as it wasn’t the most polished game on the PS3, but the Victorian England setting and the attention to detail to backgrounds and objects ensured that the game was very atmospheric and gave a very detailed picture of the crime scenes for us wannabe detectives. I really enjoyed the Detective mode, being able to reenact previous events and find hidden details within clues. The six cases in the game were very varied, being quite gripping and after all the hard work of putting the clues together to determine who committed the crime, you then had to make a moral choice of having the culprit thrown in the slammer or letting them off, depending on the circumstances and the crimes committed.

The Devil’s Daughter brings much of this back for the current generation of consoles, expanding greatly on the graphics, though they are still slightly rough around the edges. It does set the scene for Victorian England again very well, with the grime and grit, which is complimented during a night cycle in the game, rather than during the daytime when it stands out a bit too much. It does give the vibe of the latest Thief game. I did have some framerate issues on a GTX 970, having to disregard ultrawide as the cursor wasn’t lining up properly with the objects on the screen and had to follow recommendations on the Internet to turn off Depth Of Field and set compatibility mode to Windows 7, whilst turning off Light Shafts on my own accord as I’ve always found they’ve never played nice with Nvidia technologies. There were still a few areas that caused some frame drops, but nothing major. There is a pre-rendered video at the beginning of the game that didn’t play nice at all on the pc, and apparently this is also the case on PS4, so that’s down to the developers rather than hardware.

Initially, for those that did play the last game, you’ll realise that the models for Sherlock and Watson have been slightly changed. It’s not of course game changing, but I think the developers wanted to make the characters appear younger and more movie-like to appeal to a younger audience. Another jarring issue is that the story doesn’t continue from the previous installment, instead starting during an entirely different era with Sherlock apparently having a daughter that is explained throughout the game in between cases.

Now the first case essentially starts off as a tutorial on how to play the detective. When controlling Sherlock for the first time in his home, you can explore his flat which has remained the same from the previous game, aswell as now being able to go out into Baker street outside the apartment, and explore the streets that don’t really contain anything other than a chance to practise at some mini games. There is a paper boy outside who will supply you with newspaper headlines, but you’ll find that these have no relevance to the cases your working or even to the finale of the game, which I was expecting as I’m sure that was the case in the previous game.

During the first case, you’re expected to find the home of the client by strolling the streets. Not a lot to it, but be careful not to wander off, as you’ll walk for an entire mile down winding streets that aren’t to be used but later in the case. When it does come to the point that this part of the map is used, you play as the character Wiggins, an urchin that is set with the task of tailing a suspect without being seen. What entails is the slowest Assassin’s Creed chase ever, having to do the age-old of hiding behind cover until it’s clear to move onto the next. At some point, Wiggins will offer to clean a chimney shaft to gain access to the roof, in which a minigame commences of clearing the chimney of soot deposits. Not the most action engaging, but I guess it gives you the chance to experience the life of an urchin for 2 minutes. This may be catered more towards older players that whilst wanting to play a puzzle detective game, will have their game broken up by small action sequences that wouldn’t be very difficult for them to complete (which are also skipable if found too hard). There’s also a minigame in which you can shoe shine the suspect’s shoes! How exciting.

Though I will give credit for the exorcism in the game, making an old woman believe that her flat is haunted. Highly hilarious.

The ending of the first case was pretty interesting, and thankfully retained, the best part of a case with Sherlock being able to choose a moral decision of how to proceed. The crescendo helps to balance out the slower parts of the cases. I managed to get full marks and the correct ending for all cases, so a pat on the back to me, though I do wonder if it would have been more interesting sending the wrong person down. You’re convictions in these cases seem to have very little effect on the actual game ending as compared to what happened in Crimes & Punishments. Also helping to break up the cases, is the personal drama of Holmes as we deal with the matter of his daughter and his nosy neighbour (who I wanted to poison within the two minutes of meeting her, hoping to rely on Sherlock’s knowledge to cover his tracks). The drama throughout most of the game plays out quite well, similar in format to many TV cop shows, a tried and tested formula.

It’s only the game’s ending that let’s down the entirety of the game, feeling extremely rushed, bringing the tone of the game down, as you have to listen to a whinging 10 year old girl contemplate suicide, which sadly in my case, I had to experience through three times as I kept getting the sequence wrong required to move onto the next section, which surprisingly was the credits. Compared to the previous installment which had 6 cases, this one apparently had 5, but I considered the first to be an easy tutorial and the last case nothing but 5 minutes of a very bad, rushed ending. So only 3 actual cases that you get to solve, but as mentioned, sadly these have no impact on the ending even though Sherlock receives death threats after completing these cases.

Overall, there were a few average hours of gameplay, with the detective side of things fun to carry out. The puzzles weren’t entirely too difficult, and could be completed by young and old. I would say that the best thing about this game is its box artwork. It really convinced me that this was going to be something entirely different. I think the developers spent most of their time creating the more detailed world than in actually creating playable content, a compromise I’m sure many small studios have to make. It feels like Trine 3 all over again, a nicely detailed world, but just far too shorter than what I was expecting. I can only hope that they’ve made enough money this time around to expand the studio, employ a few more guys and develop a new Sherlock Holmes game that will cater to all our crime solving desires.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.thelategamer.com/video-game-review/pc/late-sherlock-holmes-the-devils-daughter-review/

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