Sherlock Holmes is a private detective that lives in London, fighting crime along with his partner Doctor Watson and his trusted dog Toby. The private detective is widely known for using logical reasoning in solving cases, as well as being known for his forensic science skills, to solve cases. The character Sherlock Holmes has been used by film producers to create series and movies but Frogwares used the character to create games of Sherlock Holmes, they already had 8 games based on Sherlock, and this is their ninth one: ‘The Testament of Sherlock Holmes‘.
In The Testament of Sherlock Holmes you start off finding a simple necklace that has been stolen, you, as Sherlock Holmes along with Doctor Watson, need to find the necklace to solve another ‘simple’ case in the eyes of Sherlock Holmes. However, this case is just the beginning of a huge adventure, which Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson and even his dog Toby become involved in. In this adventure you witness a whole new side of Sherlock Holmes you have never seen before, along with interesting characters and different locations during the Industrial Age of England, where poor and rich are separated and where the poor are ‘forgotten’.
You play as Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson and even his dog Toby for a short time, which ads variation to the game. Watson and Sherlock have the same ‘ability’, that is if you cannot find a clue or don’t know where to go, you can activate this and a clue or location becomes visible. Toby in the other hand uses his nose to trace footprints, can crawl through small corridors and can be used to activate levers or other mechanics so Sherlock Holmes can progress in his search.
But how can you solve a case without clues? The game is packed with clues that are to be found throughout the game, going from a simple footprint on the ground, to a hidden message in the victims body! Clues are in places normal people will never look, but you’re playing as Sherlock Holmes. The detective that uses rational thinking to solve cases, and yourself need to use some logic in solving them as well. The game isn’t giving you hints on a plate, you need to look for clues, solve challenging puzzles that require you to use your brain, let me tell you that this game isn’t for children because the difficulty of the puzzles are high. Some are so hard I couldn’t even solve them, and I’m a huge fan of these kind of games. Luckily the developers thought of that and made a ‘skip’ button, so you can skip through almost each puzzle, however this option only comes available after being stuck on a puzzle for some minutes, to prevent people spamming the button to finish the game more quickly.
Now you have found the clues, but some of the objects you found are dirty, or you found a liquid and you don’t know what the liquid actually is, that’s where Sherlock Holmes Forensic abilities come to show. By using his laboratory, you can discover/analyze what kind of liquid it is and it can even lead to more questions! Or if you found a stone and you want to know what kind of stone it is, using different tools you can reveal what kind of stone it is and you’ve found your next destination to go to!
So you have found your clues, but you need leads. Why did the victim die and how? Who are the murderers, what kind of weapon did they use, why did they want him dead? All these questions come up, and you need to use logic to solve these, Frogwares made a great system to solve these kind of things, and at this kind of puzzle, there is no skip button, so it’s really time to use your brains here!
Something that I found interesting was the different point of view options, you can play as first person, third person and even the good old point & click camera perspective, this allows people that enjoy puzzle/investigating games to chose their way of playing, I myself used the first person view, so I could see more of the environment and detail of it.
Speaking of the environment, the game is taking place in London – 1898, the time of England’s Great Industrial Era as I stated above. So you come across factories but also pay a visit to the cemetery, hospital and even an abandoned circus, and they really had an eye for the aesthetics of the different environment, the characters of the game have this ‘Eastern-Europe’ feel, which really mixes well with the style of the game.
Unfortunately, beside all the great puzzling, nice environments and feeling like a true detective, the cut-scenes and soundtrack could have gotten more work. The cut-scenes weren’t that smoothly animated, giving you a poor visualisation of the game, as well as some random blurs during the cut-scenes, which weren’t intentional since they sometimes occurred and didn’t bring anything special to the cut-scenes. The soundtrack is good don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t have enough variation, there are only 1 or 2 pieces of music for investigating clues, and you’re doing that constantly, so hearing the same music for 10 hours is very repetitive and could be avoided by adding 1 or 2 different pieces during investigating parts.
Despite the poor animations during cut scenes and lack of variance in the music, this game is an incredible puzzling/investigation game and shouldn’t be overlooked. The game has a good 10 hours of gameplay, along with an exciting story and a huge difficulty level, this game really makes you feel as if you’re Sherlock Holmes.