The latest adventure for the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes has taken much longer to be released than originally anticipated. The seventh main game in the series is the first to utilize the Unreal Engine 3. This helped bring the game over to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as well as release the game on the last generation of consoles. Instead of having an overarching storyline like the previous game, Crimes & Punishments features six, unrelated cases inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories.
You’ll be using all of Sherlock’s trademark skills, allowing you to scour crime scenes for clues, interrogate possible suspects and play scientist. As you progress through each case, be sure to find all the possible information you can in order to flesh out your deduction board. This is a key component to the game as you will match clues to create different branching paths. Not only do the clues create new points for you to connect, you must interpret the clues based on the information you have. Each case isn’t limited to a correct solution, so depending on the clues you find, you may have a different result than someone else playing the game. If you miss pieces of evidence that tie a motive or suspect to the crime, you may end up accusing the wrong person, including an innocent person.
At the end of some cases, you may be put into a position requiring you to act with all haste. In one situation, Sherlock got into a scuffle with the suspect upon hearing he would be sentenced to death for his crime. Failing this section requires you to try again as it is uncharacteristic of the greatest detective of all time to wind up dead during a case he was investigating.
Each of the cases contains a handful of different possible solutions along with a final moral choice after you point the blame finger, resulting in various endings to the cases. The first time you meet a character, Sherlock has the ability to scan them, changing the view to first-person and allowing you to scan their entire body as fast or as slow as you want. In typical fashion, Sherlock has the ability to find clues that the regular police may have overlooked. Using his unique sense of vision, objects will become highlighted when your vision is focused on a small location.
All six cases were enjoyable with each one having a different feel from the last. Having each of the cases unlinked allows for Frogwares to spread the cases throughout different locations without having to tie everything neatly together. This style feels similar to the current PBS Sherlock series plays out, with a new case for each episode.
I found the mini-games in Crimes & Punishments to be less frustrating than in 2012’s The Testament of Sherlock Holmes. The lockpicking mini-game appears the most, which makes sense, as you’ll often find yourself trying to access areas where you shouldn’t be. Sherlock has no shame about breaking into these areas and confronting the individuals in the cases about what he finds, even if his process is highly unethical. For those looking to experience only the narratives of the cases, you are able to skip every mini-game. The allure of a trophy for not skipping, however, was too much for me to handle.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments is an enjoyable collection of different cases putting you once again in the shoes of the one man that can solve them all. The synapse style deduction board is a giant leap forward for the series, allowing you to finish cases with inaccurate information. I did end up sentencing an innocent man to death, but the game does allow you to go back and adjust your conclusions before proceeding to the next case.
Note: The Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments review was written based on a digital PS4 version of the game.