Nothing beats sitting on the couch with a cup of tea, a blanket and a copy of the latest Sherlock Holmes game. However, does this incarnation of the mystery franchise deliver the same adventurous and mind-bending fun as the previous one?
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter takes you through six mysteries. You'll help a young boy find his missing father, assist a bowling group in figuring out what happened to a team member (after taking part in their competition), unravel the mystery of why you're getting bomb threats (alongside the quirky Orson Wilde), compile a list of events that occurred to create a major accident at an intersection, and finally finish investigating your neighbour that has taken quite a liking to Sherlock's "daughter". That's quite a bit of variety packed into one game and each case stands out from the last. I particularly enjoyed how the developers handled the Orson Wilde character. He stays with Sherlock Holmes for some of the game and their conflicting personalities make for some entertaining conversations and events. Sherlock's adopted daughter also joins the cast along with a new neighbour that Sherlock is suspicious of from day one. Inspector Lestrade takes a back seat although he is there to help Sherlock whenever he needs him. Watson doesn't play a major role either except for a few occasions where you'll be switching up who you're controlling in order to perform tasks as either character.
The gameplay in this iteration of Sherlock Holmes is fantastic. I couldn't wait to see what kinds of interactivity would come next. Some of the classic gameplay is there such as devising character portraits when you come across a new individual, observing your surroundings and solving puzzles, and the deduction phase where you put clues together to answer questions. New interactions include such things as remaking a scene by putting holograms in order, focusing in an area to find hidden clues, deciding step-by-step how to get out of a fight and finally playing as different characters (including both Sherlock's dog and Wiggins as you climb rooftops stealthily following a suspicious man). There's even a lengthy Tomb Raider inspired section where you're walking through tombs and solving puzzles. I really felt like I was Sherlock through most of the game, especially in the case where him and Watson get stuck in a traffic jam at an intersection caused by an explosion and you then work to aid the injured, decide who the likely suspects are, investigate the scene and piece it all together in a likely order of events. The gameplay just never gets stale and each interaction is always fun to learn and master.
The investigations themselves are great examples of story-telling. Each case has perfect pacing as you'll start off talking to someone who needs your help, spend time investigating the crime scene, speak with the witnesses and suspects, and then continue your path of deduction based on assumptions from clues you find. I never found it obvious who the culprit was until near the end of each case and sometimes even then it felt like a toss-up between a couple suspects. Every character has their own story and some suspects even make you feel like you should choose to absolve them instead of getting them arrested (which is an option at the end of all the cases).
As you can guess from the title, this Sherlock Holmes tale has some pretty dark subject matter so be warned. The reason that an employer has tuberculosis will shock you as well as where your neighbour sleeps when she's not playing with Sherlock's daughter. The last chapter in particular gets pretty creepy as you're investigating a séance while walking through graveyards and standing in a room with a rotting corpse sitting at a table. I almost didn't want to play at night because it creeped me out so much but the awesome story-telling and gameplay forced me to persevere. Unfortunately, the last chapter itself feels very rushed. It ties up some major questions that have been alluded to throughout the other investigations but the whole thing lasts less than half as long as the other chapters and I expected more. It also fails to address what's up with Lestrade. You do a character portrait on him part way through that leads you to believe that you'll be finding out why he's acting strange but then nothing comes of it.
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter has some pretty attractive graphics with scenery looking close to photo-realistic. However, the character art sometimes comes across as ugly and a little odd. Sherlock's daughter suffers from this the most and her voice acting is a perfect example of a whiny young girl so I didn't enjoy my time spent with her. Thankfully, there isn't a ton of interaction with her anyway. I actually wondered if everybody looked ugly and dirty back then due to the time period or if it was unintentional. The voice cast in general does a great job and helped to immerse me into the game even further. There are definitely some graphical pop-in issues throughout the journey where you'll have to wait a second or two for the textures to show. It's not enough that it alters your ability to play but it does bring you out of the experience every now and then.
I'm delighted by how far Frogwares has taken the Sherlock Holmes franchise. At each iteration, they impress me more than the previous and this version is a joy to play. I just wish it were a little longer and would invest more in the graphics department. There's always the next game, though, which I'll be eagerly looking forward to playing.
- + Lots of different interactable events
- + Interesting plot with great pacing
- + Deducing and deciding whether to absolve or commit a suspect is as thrilling as ever
- - Over too quickly with a disappointingly short final chapter
- - Occasionally subpar graphics