For those that simply need a recap, Sherlock vs. Jackie boy left a bittersweet taste in my mouth. There were aspects about it that were enjoyable, a lot of it beings the novelty about playing of Sherlock and his honorary boy-toy, Watson. Similar in a way to the first review that I ever did for Rubix Gaming about Outlast, it was one of those games that you wouldn’t expect to see on home-consoles. However, somewhere between the voice-acting, bland scenery, and the difficulty that came with story progression, I was very disappointed with the experience. Evidently though, I was not disappointed enough to give up on it altogether, after all, it was Sherlock Holmes, and there is still so many games in the series that I have yet to play.
The setting is London of 1898, and as expected, Sherlock is solving cases left and right, however, after successfully solving a new case regarding a priceless set of jewels, the owner reveals that Holmes merely returned him a pale imitation. He points the finger of blame in Holmes’ direction, and suddenly with every twist and spiral, everything seems to be incriminating the detective. This becomes more than just merely a battle over jewelry, of course, in-fact, the story eventually starts taking some of the best moments from the Sherlock Holmes tales, particularly the ones that involved Moriarty.
I can say from the beginning that the story feels like an improvement over Jack the Ripper, merely because it feels like there is a lot more ambition, and a lot more on the line. There were several missed opportunities and anticlimactic scenes, but other-wise, I think it can be woven into a consistent narrative.
I also believe that Sherlock Holmes and John Watson have more depth as characters in this one. They’re voiced by the same actors from the previous installment, but they have been given more to work with. Sherlock Holmes is allotted the means to channel a little of his obsessive behavior, while Watson actually responds to it like a human-being might respond to an actual friend. This Sherlock Holmes is darker, resorting more toward exploitation, extortion, and works toward capturing the feeling of exile from society that was established in previous works about the title-character.
The voice-acting hasn’t completely improved, for example, the story begins with the grandchildren of Sherlock and John finding some of Watson’s stories. It occasionally brings them back into the fray, and frankly, their voice-acting is terrible. After the last game, the developers realized that success shouldn’t be measured by how long they force the gamer to spend on one small part, and should actually be on making the most enjoyable experience possible. The puzzles are still challenging, but they have made efforts to alleviate some the unnecessary calamities. The fact is that you aren’t in Sherlock Holmes’ head, and don’t have the opportunity to theorize too often, and because of that, you spend a lot of time clicking around. I remember in the last game, I spend hours trying to figure out what to do, only to find that there was a spillage of ink on a carpet that I needed to inspect. I couldn’t see it because the room was dark, but in this game, you can use a button and channel your “sixth sense” to make things easier. You can also skip some of the more ridiculous puzzles, like having to mess with chemical agents and all that jazz.
The graphics have a handful of awkward moments every now and again, but they ultimately improved a lot over what came before. They look more detailed, and while I still don’t think they are where they could have been, it’s a step in the right direction. Other than that, one of the biggest improvements was the navigation. You don’t spend your time wandering a city filled with cheesy characters each with generic dialogue, but instead, there’s more of a linear approach to it. I like this approach a lot better because other-wise, there were moments where it was just a waste of time trying to find places.
In conclusion, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes strives to be an improvement on the last game in the series, and it succeeds. While it doesn’t completely fix every problem that I had with Jack the Ripper, it improves on everything that I complained about. They improved the graphics, controls, and the characters were given a lot more to work with. Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments will be released in September 2014, … the video-game is said to be a darker and more realistic approach to the character, inspired partially by the BBC television show. I am very, very excited to see what they come up with.
Rating: Above Average