What did we learn after putting on the shoes and top hat of the lustrous detective Sherlock Holmes? For starters, the game is quite successful as portraying Sherlock Holmes as an asshole. And that is putting it bluntly. Doesn’t matter if you are a kid, drug addict or just a drunk, Holmes continuously pushes the boundaries of what he can get away with without ever feeling remorse for his action. Somehow he remains likeable throughout the entire affair even with his condescending tone and arrogant ways.
For 10-hours you will be deducing, poking around and exploring dark sewers, graveyards and morgues gathering clues and using Watson’s “deduction board” to weave together multiple plots that revolve around an overarching plot. Being the sequel to Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper, the gameplay changes are more fitting with the fiction of Sherlock Holmes as you are spending more time solving puzzles than worrying about using weapons.
What started off as a simple jewelery heist quickly escalates into a murder plot of a prominent member of society with Holmes being fingered as a primary suspect. Not to mention a diabolical plan to send London into utter chaos. Uncovering the truth behind the accusations, you must take control of Sherlock, Watson and the ever faithful hound Toby.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes changes the old-school adventure game formula with unique twists to the game’s puzzles. Nearby clues will always help you in figuring out the solutions, but be warned the puzzles will give you a genuine challenge. Want proof that these riddles borderline the improbable? Instead of including an optional hint system – which I would have preferred – Frogwares gives gamers the option to skip puzzles if you spend too much time on any single one.
Puzzles fit the 19th century London era with plenty of lock picking of doors and opening of chests. Using Sherlock’s intuition ability, important objects that have been overlooked become highlighted. It does help when searching for that final clue, but other times not even his intuition can help you from feeling like you aren’t smart enough to play the game. I’ll give one example without spoiling it: look up and down frequently. Trust me, it will save you from wasting dozens of minutes retracing your steps.
If you find yourself backed into a corner, open Sherlock’s inventory as you may have to combine objects that you have previously collected to advance. It never quite clear when you should check your inventory, so it is always a good idea to try using items first. Find a locked door and you have already found the key? You will receive the same “I can not do that,” response from Holmes each time you try and open it until you select the key first. Using the “deduction board,” Watson can put his intensive note taking to use connecting different facts in a case to form a deduction on the current case using multiple choice style answers. Watson, who lacks the intellect of Holmes, plays as the ordinary doctor we all know and love.
Production values in the game range from the extraordinary voice work to the awkward animations of characters. Lip syncing doesn’t even come close, but if you listen to the characters instead of watching, you will be pleasantly impressed. Nothing is as horrifying as the three children seen at the beginning of the game – each with a face not even their mothers could love. When given the chance, changing your perspective from third-person to first-person eliminates the stiff animations that hinders player movement around the environments that you get in third-person.
Would I suggest this game to adventure fans? Of course or as Sherlock would say, “Elementary, my dear Watson!” – actually he never says this in the original works, but that’s splitting hairs. The puzzles are challenging and more than once I had to take a breather and come back to it at a later point. Just don’t forget to save as the game does not have any form of auto saving.
Note: The Testament of Sherlock Holmes review was written based on the Xbox 360 version of the game provided by the publisher.