by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on X360
Open world, open possibilities (cntd)
On the other hand, the developers have stated that there are about 20 locations in the game ranging from Baker Street to opium dens and, naturally, the various crime scenes. This seems to indicate that the game is still not as “open” as some other titles out there and you will be somewhat limited in your ability to move from one place to the other.
As told above, the graphics are completely revamped, making the exploration of the murder scenes a much more entertaining (or disgusting) experience. The 19th century London scenery is crafted in detail, allowing you for the first time to have some eye-candy in a Sherlock Holmes game. Alongside the graphics update of the environments, the various characters and victims of brutal murders will also be modeled in gritty detail and you will be able to examine severed fingers and other such delectable items in close-up views.
On the other hand, we should not expect too much from the graphics. Whereas they are clearly far superior to anything we have seen in the series before, they are still not as photo-realistic as some other modern high end titles are becoming. In fact, the quality of the textures is in many places still quite low. There is still time for the developers to improve them, of course, but given the limitations of the consoles, I would not be expecting even the PC version to profess dx11 level of visual splendor.
The characters were created with the help of motion-capture and real actors, which will certainly lead to better results than the stiff characters we know from past titles in the series. It will be interesting to see how far this motion-capture goes, as the developers have told that you will also be treated with a honed interrogation system where you can – with devious questioning – catch the suspect off-guard. If this means that we will see more than two expressions on the NPCs faces, I’m all for it!
Helping the gamer along
Unlike in the previous titles, where the player had to examine areas in fine detail in order to spot that single misplaced pixel that indicated a clue (possible only because the graphics were poor), the new title adds a so-called “point of interest” system that – at the player’s request – hovers question marks over the scenery in areas that might require closer examination. This kind of a feature is naturally made necessary by the better graphics where details might easily be lost, but it will certainly also help you along when you are completely stumped in one situation or the other. The “point of interest” feature will have a time delay, stopping you from relying on it too often.
The developers have also stated that they have purposely stepped away from the insanely difficult puzzles of the previous titles – when they used to watch the ‘net in delight and count the days it took for the gamers to solve each puzzle – and are bringing the game to more casual audiences. Alongside the above-mentioned help system, this will probably also show in more storytelling-type approach where it is the story that entertains the player and not the endless puzzles.
Best Sherlock or destroying the myth?
Although Sherlock Holmes had a darker side, it remains to be seen if the developers are going a bit too far with this aspect of the character by actually making him murder people, or if they will keep true to the drug-addict that we all know and love from the novels and short stories. Personally, I hope that they will not take the essence of Sherlock Holmes to too modern directions. He is a character that belongs in the late 19th century and the morals of that time.
Overall, what we know of The Testament of Sherlock Holmes at this point makes me more hopeful of the game series’ future. Personally, I was turned off by the earlier games, even though I like adventure games in general and my biggest gripes were the bad and quirky graphics and the frustrating and boredom-inducing puzzles. With both of those aspects getting an update, and the plot being full of twists and turns, as the developers say, this might very well become the best adventure title of the year! We will certainly keep an eye on it.