by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on X360
Sherlock is changing
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is the sixth game in the Sherlock Holmes game series concocted by Frogwares and Focus Home Interactive. In the past, the game series has suffered from poor and quirky graphics, the explanation for which appears to be that the developers used to aim for the middle of the market, rather than the high end. Apparently, it means that they developed their games for computers that were average five years ago.
Now, with the change of the style they use to title their games also comes a change in focus. The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is designed first and foremost to consoles and thus the developers are “free” to take advantage of all the graphical fanciness that comes with the new platforms. Thus the latest game will look better than ever in the series history. Never mind that PC graphics are way ahead of the consoles at the moment, even if you aim for middle market... But, my gripes about the developers touting consoles as the modernizer of the series aside, let’s get into the meat of what the latest game is about.
Sherlock in danger
Apparently, better looks and environments are not all that good for you. At least Sherlock seems to end up in trouble that exceeds all other adventures we have seen thus far. As usual, the player will be in control of Holmes or Doctor Watson in either first-person or third-person perspective, finding clues, examining murder and robbery scenes and solving puzzles. But this time, instead of solving a simple murder or series of murders, we end up trying to find out whether Sherlock Holmes himself has finally gone to the dark side and started robbing valuable artifacts and murdering innocents in his spare time.
It all begins with a priceless set of jewels that Sherlock returns to their lawful owner, only to be accused of serious misdemeanor when it turns out that the returned necklace is fake. Almost immediately afterward, Sherlock is supposed to meet with the Bishop of Knightsbridge, who turns out to have been murdered in the most horrid of fashions. As more and more evidence is gathered against Sherlock, even his loyal companion, Doctor Watson, begins to doubt his friend’s true intentions. And the fact that Sherlock seems to have gone on a spree of blackmail and destruction of evidence is certainly not helping his case in his friend’s eyes.
Open world, open possibilities
Some of the past Sherlock Holmes games have professed so-called open environments, which have really turned out to be very restricted areas with streets blocked by carts and debris to stop you from getting too far away from the scene you should be exploring. This seems to have changed in the latest game, as you get more freedom to choose which leads to follow and where to go in order to examine the evidence further or to gather more evidence.