Quantcast
Review: The Testament of Sherlock Holmes - Destructoid




Game database:   #ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ         ALL     Xbox One     PS4     360     PS3     WiiU     Wii     PC     3DS     DS     PS Vita     PSP     iOS     Android


The Testament of Sherlock Holmes  




Review: The Testament of Sherlock Holmes photo
Review: The Testament of Sherlock Holmes

5:00 PM on 11.22.2012

Despite frustrating puzzles, Holmes' genius shines through


It seems as if Sherlock Holmes is more popular than ever; whether it's Robert Downey Jr.'s slow-mo charmer, Benedict Cumberbatch's gruff genius, or Johnny Lee Miller's American-based version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's detective, audiences cannot get enough.

Sherlock Holmes has been a fixture in PC gaming for a number of years now with an ongoing series of adventure games recreating his most famous cases, such as The Hound of the Baskervilles, or facing off against Jack the Ripper. The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, however, pushes Holmes and Watson to their limits in an all-new case.

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC [reviewed])
Developer: Frogwares (PC), Spiders (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive (PC), Atlus U.S.A., Inc.
Release: September 25, 2012
MRSP: $39.99

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is a wholly original story which makes for a much more interesting experience over an adaptation of one of the original novels, although there's a slight thematic tie-in with the conclusion of the second BBC series.

After solving a seemingly simple case of a stolen necklace, Sherlock Holmes finds his reputation tarnished in the press by a vindictive journalist. After the savage murder of a Bishop, Holmes trusted partner Dr. Watson is dismayed by the great detective's seemingly irrational and out-of-character behavior. He becomes reckless, intimidates witnesses -- even trying to shoot a suspect rather than have the police arrest them. Eventually, Holmes goes on the run and Watson must pursue him.

The story has a disjointed feel at the start, mainly as the player can select their own line from two choices. Because of this, the first half of the game feels a little all over the place. Plot points concerning the Bishop's murder and an imprisoned poisoner are pushed aside as Holmes and Watson investigate the journalist's accusations against Holmes, leaving the first half of the story feeling unresolved.

Sherlock Holmes

Gameplay is fairly standard point-and-click action but with a few interesting additions thrown in. You can move either Holmes or Watson by using the WASD keys and your mouse, a first-person viewpoint, or by clicking on the environment as you would in most adventure games. There's never really anything that will require fine movement, aside from one surprisingly enjoyable level where you control Holmes' faithful bloodhound Toby.

Another useful addition is a mechanic that allows you to fine tune your selection of clues and items on screen. If you click on a single clue whilst there are multiple on-screen clues, you can use the WASD keys to rotate through them. This makes identifying and picking up objects much easier and less frustrating. Unidentified clues are marked as blue, but once selected, they'll turn to green, which again makes things easier. Both Holmes and Watson have a sixth sense to identifying clues that can be easy to overuse but is on a cooldown, so you can't just repeatedly press it when searching for items.

Unlike most adventure games, combining items and objects to solve obstacles in the game world, you will be identifying clues and using them to further your investigations. Often there will be Professor Layton-eqsue logic puzzles -- it seems many London residents use safes and lock boxes with complicated locks. One of the game's big frustrations is that almost all of these puzzles come with no explanation as to what you have to achieve to complete them; you're thrown in blind most of the time and are left struggling in the dark until you can maybe figure them out. That being said, too many wrong answers will give you the option to skip the puzzle. Whilst this does mean you won't get stuck, it leaves too much temptation to simply breeze through the harder puzzles. Skipping will also stop you from getting achievements for some of the puzzles as well.

Sherlock Holmes

The other annoyance is that when the game does need the traditional adventure game manipulation of objects, it's not always natural or easy to do. Combining items in the inventory screen was fidgety and there's more than one occasion where you'll feel you have the right tool for the job only to be told "I can't do that." Mercifully, if you're lacking the necessary tool or object, then you'll be told so. 

There's a pleasant amount of actual deduction and criminal investigation involved in The Testament of Sherlock Holmes. One of the big parts of Holmes' investigations is the deduction board; once Holmes and Watson have gathered enough information, they can begin to deduce what has happened during a crime. The board consists of interlocking scenarios with three options each. Choosing the right scenario will unlock the rest of the case, but sadly, it can sometimes devolve into simply clicking on all combinations until the board is marked as correct. There's only a few times this is used in the game, just like Holmes' chemical analysis machine. 

Sherlock Holmes

Graphically, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes looks great. Despite being set in late Victorian London, the art style shows the city in some bright and colorful ways. Instead of the usual foggy streets, there's some lovely backgrounds in gardens and pathways.

The characters of Holmes and Watson are well-voiced (modeled more closely on ITV's 1980-1990's adaptation starring Jeremy Brett as Holmes). The former is always cool, logical and seemingly in control, whilst Watson is always two steps behind and befuddled by his friend's descent into criminality. Some of the facial animations are quite poor, however -- the children that you see at the start are perhaps the worst offenders. 

Sherlock Holmes

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes manages to elevate itself above being just a point-and-click game by adding some genuine investigative elements into the mix. Being based in a real-life historical setting, albeit in a fictional story, the clues and puzzles are all grounded in logic and never take the wild flights of fancy that many adventure games do.

That said, it isn't without frustrations. Chapters can finish with an abrupt end, which leaves the story feeling disjointed and unsatisfying. There's also a function in the menu for the player to alternate controlling Holmes and Watson during a case, but it's only used twice towards the end of the game and throwing players into a puzzle with no idea as to what they're doing is poor design.

Despite complaints, it's a compelling story with some standout moments and surprising twists. Even more surprising is that the narrative does make sense in the end; a Sherlock Holmes story needs to be tight and logical, which this game manages to pull off overall. Even with the sometimes fractured narrative, it is hard to not want to get to the bottom of the cases that have led to Holmes behaving in the way he does. Watson's growing anger and desperation with his friend becomes touching and it's gratifying to reach the conclusion with all of the threads tied together. A little more care with introducing the puzzles and a little more deduction would have gone a long way in making this one of the best detective games of recent years.



THE VERDICT - The Testament of Sherlock Holmes

Reviewed by Alasdair Duncan

7.5 /10
Good: A solid game that definitely has an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun. Check out more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.








Comments not appearing? Anti-virus apps like Avast or some browser extensions can cause this.
Easy fix: Add   [*].disqus.com   to your software's white list. Tada! Happy comments time again.

Did you know? You can now get daily or weekly email notifications when humans reply to your comments.





timeline following:
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes



8:30 PM on 12.21.2011
Testament of Sherlock Holmes vid has a lovely ambiguity

I love a good mystery and, as a result, I'm a big fan of Sherlock Holmes stories. I haven't played a game yet which I felt did a truly great job of putting me into a Holmes mystery, but The Testament of Sherlock Holmes ...more



5:00 PM on 09.29.2011
First look: The Testament of Sherlock Holmes

The Sherlock Holmes series has been more or less off of my radar completely, and they've been around for several different iterations (six games in total). The series has always been strictly PC, though the most recent title ...more



6:15 PM on 08.30.2011
Have more Sherlock Holmes screenshots

Round two of the Testament of Sherlock Holmes screenshots are in and the game still looks good. The Testament finds the detective unable to solve a crime that paints him as the main suspect. As he begins to look more guilty h...more



3:00 PM on 07.24.2011
Sherlock Holmes reveals himself in 4 new screenshots

The fine fellows of Focus Home Interactive have seen fit to share with us four new screenshots for The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, the new detective game being developed for the PS3, 360 and PC.  Developer Frogwares wo...more




PC

10:30 AM on 12.18.2014
Hearthstone is now available everywhere on Android

After a soft launch in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is now available worldwide. You'll need to sport a 6" (or larger) Android device to run it though, so don't try and squint on you...more



9:00 AM on 12.18.2014
Angry Viking simulator Lords of the Fallen is coming to iOS and Android

Well this is an interesting turn of events. Despite not having a version of the game out for the Xbox 360, PS3, or Wii U platforms, developer Deck13 Interactive will release Lords of the Fallen on iOS and Android de...more



7:01 AM on 12.18.2014
Evolve launches open beta for Xbox One on January 15

The first quarter of 2015 looks to be an exciting period for games. But one such title is looking to keep players satiated all the way till its release. After a successful closed alpha period, Evolve is gearing up for another...more



View all PC






Back to Top




All content is yours to recycle through our Creative Commons License permitting non-commercial sharing requiring attribution. Our communities are obsessed with videoGames, movies, anime, and toys.

Living the dream since March 16, 2006

Advertising on destructoid is available: Please contact them to learn more