A total remake of its 2007 game of the same name, developer Frogwares has embarked on a complete overhaul of Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened. This Lovecraftian adventure sees Sherlock investigate a series of disappearances that end up being tied to the Cthulhu mythos.
The Awakened opens with a fairly low-stakes case to solve: where is Sherlock’s diary, and why did it go missing? This acts as a tutorial for the game’s mechanics, many of which are expected for a detective game; present evidence, interview suspects and witnesses, and investigate the crime scene. The game also adds some interesting, almost otherworldly elements meant to represent Sherlock’s aptitude for crime scene investigation and detective work. Pressing R1 activates ‘Concentration’, allowing Sherlock to see things that are not visible to the uninitiated.
Once enough evidence has been collected, Sherlock can recreate past events in Focus Mode using his imagination. Small synapses will appear on the screen and Sherlock will be able to interact with them, allowing you to choose the right recreation based on the evidence you have obtained so far. Successfully recreating the scene will add new information to the casebook and allow Sherlock to summarize any deductions that have been made.
There are so many elements to investigating crime scenes that The Awakened really makes you think on different levels. Looking at the evidence in the casebook, some items may have different icons, indicating that more can be done with this entry. Whether pinning it as key piece of evidence and asking a passerby about it, or using concentration to watch the scene while thinking about another inference, it feels like he There is always something more that can be done at a crime scene to gain more information and gather valuable evidence.
Sherlock also has his “Mind Palace”, accessible via the menu, where he will ask key questions about the current case. Once you’ve selected a question you want to answer, you’ll see how many pieces of evidence are needed to answer that particular question, and they’re color-coded into three categories; elements, documents and observations. Press L2 and R2 to cycle through category screens, then you can select items to answer the question. Often you won’t have the relevant piece of evidence right off the bat, which means further investigation is needed to properly answer the questions and pursue the story.
With so many elements to investigate crime scenes, things can get a bit overwhelming. The Awakened differs from other detective games in that it doesn’t give hints or advice if you spend too long in an area, and it really wants you to figure things out on your own. With an arsenal of investigative tools at your disposal, there’s certainly more than one way to look at things, and in areas where we’ve been stuck for far too long, the answers were plain to see once we figured out how to move forward. Icon usage against evidence in the Casebook is a great indicator of what’s outstanding to help the game progress, and perhaps the only clue you’ll receive. Pressing L1 in investigation scenes will show you points of interest; this looks like a very finicky mechanism, and there were times when we had to repeatedly press L1 for it to register that we were trying to use this feature.
As you would expect for a game based on the Cthlulu mythos, there are a lot of fantastical elements. Sherlock will often find himself in an otherworldly plane, where the rules of physics and logic seem not to apply. These segments of the game are more puzzle-based and really encourage lateral thinking.
Sherlock’s investigation will take him to the four corners of the world, from his native London to Switzerland, New Orleans and vice versa. This gives a very varied experience and allows the player to experience a variety of settings. They all have their own distinctive feel and feel, which makes each chapter a whole new experience. Some of the NPC lines you hear while walking around are cycled around a bit too often, which can often feel quite repetitive, especially at the start of exploration when you’re frequently taking the same path.
For the most part, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is a visually spectacular game. The cut scenes are beautifully animated and each chapter begins with a striking visual that really gives the whole game a truly cinematic feel. The character models are generally very well done, except for some textural issues with the hair and the rendering of some fairly uneven close-ups, but nothing that will noticeably spoil the immersion.
For avid Sherlock Holmes fans, The Awakened feels like a truly faithful story featuring a beloved character. It really focuses on Sherlock’s relationships with the other characters and isn’t shy about detailing his often fragile mental state, which is so frequently documented in his other adventures. It really adds an extra layer of authenticity to the game and shows that it was made by a team that truly loves and understands the intricacies of the character, rather than using a big name to sell a detective game.
For a game that should never have existed, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is a revelation. It has everything a Holmes fan could want; mysteries to solve, amusing dialogues and jokes between Holmes and Watson, and many investigations to carry out. Playing with virtually no instruction or assistance from the game itself really gives a sense of accomplishment not often found with other detective games. A captivating and mythical storyline is truly the icing on the cake of a fantastic and challenging game that will have players exploring every nook and cranny to get to the bottom of the mystery at hand.
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