The Sherlock Holmes games from Frogware have been around for a number of years now with a small following keeping up to date with every game that’s released. It may be surprising to some but the Sherlock Holmes games are not just some niché game series that only the die-hard fans would enjoy while the rest is left to look on puzzledly. They’ve been getting progressively better, honing what’s good and trimming what’s not. Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments is the culmination of the past few Sherlock Holmes games and the result is one rather fantastic detective adventure game.
I don’t usually refer to my preferences but I feel as though they should be known before reading on: I don’t like Sherlock Holmes. I have nothing against it but TV shows, movies, and the rest have never captured my attention. I have never felt the need to catch up on any of the TV shows nor do I want to spend €15 euro to go see it in the cinema.
With that said, Sherlock Holmes: Crime and Punishment is a rather great game which is surprising to anyone who has never played the games before and rather satisfying to those that have. Frogwares have always had something there in those game that really started with Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper. Since then, they have really made major strides to improve the series, give it more personality with confidence, and went in a much more mature direction which is all the better for it.
Rather than give you a number of cases that follow a single story thread, Crime and Punishment follows a theme rather with each case being its own story. This helps the pace and presentation as the need to keep the story contained always hindered it slightly.
Visually, the game is an improvement over the last couple but it isn’t anything spectacular either. Before release, Focus Home Interactive were very proud of how good the game looks on the Unreal Engine 3, which it moved to for this title. Characters speaking still look awkward and there are some unusual looking aspects of the game but it does capture the atmosphere really well.
And it’s that atmosphere that keeps you invested. It’s clear that there is no big budget behind this game with the sometimes standard voicework, awkward writing, and unimpressive visuals but you can feel the passion the developer have for this game, something lacking in the big budget games. The characters you interact with all have quirks, things to pick up on that keep you invested.
Sherlock himself is as obnoxious as ever with his smug presentation as he simply knows everything. Watson is still that same sort of creepy guy that actually isn’t. The two alone is well-thought in places and interactions between them and other NPCs can create some interesting conversations.
As I’ve mentioned, no one notices the things that Sherlock sees. However, this time around, Sherlock can get it quite wrong. You may think you can piece everything together, the game allows you to, even if you’re wrong. This actually creates great replay value as you may want to tackle the same case again from a different side as you may have missed some things along the way
It’s honestly hard to tell you, the one who has never played any of the Sherlock Holmes games that they are genuinely worth looking into. I’m not a Sherlock fan but I love the time period, I really enjoyed piecing evidence together even if I was wrong, and I loved that it’s a game that you can feel meant something to the team. If you like your adventure games, Crimes and Punishments is definitely something you should take note of.