Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments Review – A Great Game is Elementary

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Sherlock Holmes, Watson and Lestrade are all ready for their next gen debut. Is Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments worthy of further investigation, or should you leave it to rot in its cell?

Read on to find out.

Developer Frogwares has had a pretty decent run on the Sherlock Holmes series, with this being the seventh Sherlock Holmes game they have released, and the first for the PS4 and Xbox one. It was also released on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Publisher Focus Home Interactive was nice enough to send us a review code for the PS4 version and our review is based off of that. Previous titles generally gave you one story and then had you work only through that case, with the completion of the case marking the end of the game. Crimes and Punishments breaks away from that formula and gives you six cases to work through, with one underlying story loosely tying all of them together, the case of the Merry Men.

The game starts out as a typical adventure/investigation style game. A crime occurs and you’ll have to look around areas while interacting with other characters and items in the environment, all the while keeping track of anything you may find or find out in your handy dandy notebook. You have the option to play either in first person, looking through the eyes of Holmes, or in third person where you’ll be looking over his shoulder. Switching between the two on the PlayStation is as easy as pressing circle, so you can easily decide which view works best for you. This is something that was asked for with previous titles so it’s great to know that the developer listened to their fans.

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As you progress through a case and gather clues, you’ll slowly be able to try and piece it all together using the new investigative interface. It’s very similar to a string based pin board, where clues can be linked together and then be built upon, once you decide what each linked set of clues mean. This is a very intricate system, with a depth that was unexpected, even though I had seen it previously in a closed door setting. it’s one thing for a developer to tell you about it, and then another when you sit down and use this system. the number of endings to each case are many, and it’s up to you to decide the fate of the suspects. You are Sherlock Holmes, so your conclusions are accepted without question by the law.

Using the string based concept, you may think that you have the case figured out quickly, but one should never jump to conclusions until all possibilities are examined. the game draws on that concept through all of its cases, and you could easily spend a week or more trying to play through all possibilities. You could also run through the game quickly, and miss out on so many twists and turns, and find yourself bored in five or six hours. We strongly caution against speed and beg that you take your time, paying attention to every detail as Holmes is known to do. that is where the genius of the game lies. Patience, with no rush, makes for an incredibly entertaining experience.

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Each case will have its own share of puzzles for you to solve, and these range from arm wrestling to fancy line puzzles. Most are straight forward, and while not exactly easy, most aren’t all that difficult. They are still well thought out and entertaining, for the most part. You can skip through any you don’t want to mess with, and the arm wrestling was a bit of a pain, but skipping shouldn’t be considered, as most of the puzzles can be worked through without too much brain power.

As you come close to the end of a case, and decide who the guilty person is while eliminating the innocent names from your list, you’ll be faced with a moral choice. In the first case it came down to either premeditated murder or self defense. Was the person being attacked, and in turn had to gtake the persons life? Or, did the person plan on killing the victim before even setting foot on their property? The right or wrong of it clearly lands on your shoulders, and you’ll have to decide the conclusion based on the facts. I can honestly say that the first case had me second guessing myself and made me hesitant to throw accusations and conclusions around. Once you do close a case, you’ll be ranked by your personality traits exhibited in the overall case.

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I haven’t seen how the game looks on the PS3 or the Xbox 360, but the next gen version is just that. Next gen. Facial animations are captured well, with a detail that isn’t easily achieved. When Sherlock or Holmes is in deep thought, you’ll know simply by looking at their faces. Emotions clearly are shown in these details as well, and a smile from Holmes, is a smile that is seen not just in his mouth, but across his entire face. These are the details that can take a game to the next level of enjoyment, and can help the gamer feel invested in the story, and in the game as a whole.

Frogwares has done an excellent job with  Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments and have not only come up with great stories and cases, but also fine tuned almost every aspect of the series. The new investigative interface gives the game a depth that was truly unexpected, and the many ways to tie a story together creates a replayability factor that is rarely seen in a video game. With each case having so many endings, you can plan on playing this game for some time to come, if you want to see them all.

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Well done Frogwares.