Review: The Testament of Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock and his trusty companion Watson tend to be all the rage these days, with two films, an English TV series and a soon to start American TV series called, ‘Elementary’ it seems like one of the worlds oldest detectives is back with a bang. Frogwares are no strangers to Sherlock, having spent the last 10 years making six Sherlock games they ought to be used to his delightfully British ways by now.
Their latest title, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes takes the point and click adventure series down a slightly darker route. The game starts off in a fairly innocent way, a tutorial level which focusses on a sneaky monkey stealing a necklace. However, from there things start to turn sour quite quickly, Holmes gets accused of stealing the necklace and replacing it with a forgery, which in turn sees him being hunted down by the police.
This forces Holmes underground and in order to investigate things he has to bend a few laws, like breaking into peoples houses and so forth. In previous games, gore and violence were hidden in the background, however this time round it’s right at the forefront. The first proper mission in the game revolves around Holmes and Watson investigating the murder of a mutilated Priest, with one of the clues being a severed finger, which must then be poked at in order to deduce what’s going on.
The levels themselves start out like most other point and click adventure games, with pointing and clicking. As you’d expect you’ll have to scour the rooms for hidden items and clues – if you struggle with this then you can use Sherlock’s Spidey-like sense, this shows you where the objects are that you can interact with. However, you still need to be quite close to them and looking in their general direction.
Once you’ve found a bunch of hidden goodies then you can have a chat with Watson and see what he’s been writing in his deduction book. This is a selection of notes about the clues you’ve found, it’s then up to you to link them all together to get to the bottom of the case. When you open a clue you’ll be given a series of options, you then have to pick the right options in the right order to be able to continue. They’re all fairly logical so it’s not too tricky to work out, the bigger problem I found was that the game didn’t seem to tell you how the book worked, so there was a lot of trial and error at the beginning.
On top of this you have the puzzles, these range from using fluids to see how acidic an object is to opening a safe. In order to complete these puzzles properly you’ll have to pay attention at all times and listen to everything that’s said – otherwise you might struggle. If you spend a while on a puzzle or fail too many times then you’ll be given the option to skip it, the only downside of this I could see was you might miss out on the odd achievement/trophy.
Graphic wise, it’s a definite step up from previous titles but it’s still fairly average compared to a lot of other titles out there. Then again, this is a ‘budget’ title so from that point of view the graphics are decent. The majority of faces look good and the voice acting isn’t too bad for the most part. However, this changes with the children who interlink the narrative, they’re quite freaky – they’re almost nightmarish in their look and sound. They reminded me more of small old people, rather than children.
There’s a lot of scratch your head moments and I’ll admit, I lost my patience and used a Youtube guide to help me through an area. This isn’t helped by the fact that almost nothing is explained – the tutorial level shows you how to move and click on things but that’s about it. Some of the puzzles give you no indication of what you’re supposed to be doing and it’ll take a lot of trial and error to eventually find out. Sometimes you’ll need to use a specific item on an object but it won’t tell you that, so you’ll have to scroll through your items, one by one and try to see if they do anything. I noticed in the tips it tells you to ask Watson, should you get stuck, but 90% of the time he says, “What’s next, Holmes?” Which doesn’t really help me out.
If you’re a big fan of point and click adventure games then you’ll more than likely enjoy The Testament of Sherlock Holmes. It’s a well put together package with some interesting ideas and a decent story. There’s nothing particulary ground-breaking here but if you fancy a change from the constant stream of shooters then give this a look. As long as you don’t get scared by freaky looking children.