The World's Greatest Detective
Sherlock Holmes, the world renowned fictional British detective is at it again in Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments. Heavily inspired by the old school literature mixed with a bit of the new school seen in films and the TV show Sherlock, Crimes and Punishments sets out to make a name for itself not just for fans of mystery and crime drama, but for anyone looking for a truly thought provoking game that tugs at the player's sense of morality as well. Now you're wondering: “Does it? Will it really have players questioning their outcomes as each case progresses?” This is a great mystery that you, the reader, will have answered shortly. Let us take a look at all the evidence.
Exhibit A: Freedom Of Choice
Crimes and Punishments opens with the bit of witty comedic banter between Watson and Sherlock that fans will appreciate, as Watson dodges around Sherlock's parlor avoiding gunfire from the blindfolded detective. This is the first of many mini-games presented throughout to break up the investigations and downtime of putting the clues together as you guide Watson from cover to cover. After the gun is emptied, Sherlock is presented with his first case as his expertise is called upon by Scotland Yard. A murder has taken place, and it's up to Sherlock to find out who the culprit is and his motives.
The game picks up nearly as soon as the first case is underway with the emphasis that each clue you inspect, each thought you have, each and every witness you speak to, can drastically change the outcome the player will reach as they proceed. The developers were not joking when they flaunted 6-10 different outcomes per case, enabling a lot of replay value as well as allowing the player to essentially create their own story of success (or failure) as they press onward. While each case has one definite guilty party which is supposed to be the proper outcome, the game doesn't slam the wrong outcome in your face. In fact, at the end of each case you have the option to see if who you pinned the charges on was the right one or not, and it plays out nicely as an optional spoiler if you wish.
For example, at the end of the first case I thought I had the charges pinned on the right person. I thought it couldn't possibly be anyone else with all the evidence at hand... I was wrong. The game doesn't tell you who the guilty party is however, it will just tell you if you were right or wrong. From then on, I resisted the urge to see if I was right or not, opting instead to press on because, after all, Sherlock wouldn't have that luxury of seeing if he was wrong or not just by looking at a sheet of paper when the case is closed.
This freedom of choice is the biggest draw to the game and succeeds where other mystery titles in recent years have failed. It lets you investigate and come to a conclusion on your own terms and hopefully it's the right solution but don't expect the game to slap your hand and say "WRONG" in the event of a mistake.
Exhibit B: Building Leads And Playing Games
The game plays out in various ways. Exploring rather limited but in depth areas, utilizing your detective abilities, and ultimately putting the pieces together to come to a conclusion. Starting first with the environments, there are several throughout the game but they are mostly small, spanning a few rooms at most but it fits the style of gameplay. To get between them, you'll take a horse drawn carriage which serves as a loading screen but also allows you to look over your notes and clues and draw deductions if you wish to. This is a rather creative way to go about it and I was happy to know I wouldn't just have to stare at Sherlock reading during the frequent back and forths between multiple locations which many of the cases require. It also mixes in two gameplay elements that serve as a way of letting you catch things that others wouldn't, coined simply as "Sherlock Vision".
Freedom of choice leads to amazing replay value, beautiful environments, almost all of the voice acting, great story, enjoyable gameplay; minigames don't feel like filler but rather an integral part of the experience.
A few of the side characters have lackluster voice acting, the ability to skip certain sequences offers a path of less resistance which goes against the point of a challenge, ability to check if you got the right suspect or not at the end of a case goes s