“Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is a fantastic adventure with unique gameplay that blends investigation, action and exploration for an extraordinary experience that will test the limits of your nerves and intelligence.
Track down evil in the darkest corners of London and the human soul while playing as the great detective, as you untangle a web of intrigue leading to the final stunning revelation.”
– The Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter Steam page (http://store.steampowered.com/app/350640/)
We’re treated to so many great portrayals of the Sherlock Holmes character these days. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the extraordinary sleuth in the hit BBC show ‘Sherlock’, Jonny Lee Miller lights up New York with his take on the character in ‘Elementary’, whilst Robert Downy Jr. has given us a more action orientated version of the character on the big screen in Guy Ritchie’s movies.
Whilst Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation has received a lot of buzz on our TV screens, there’s also been a resurgence of quality Sherlock Holmes video games over the last few years. Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is the latest instalment from developers Frogsware, bringing with it another fresh look on the Sherlock Holmes character. If I had to compare it to one of the more recent iterations the easiest comparison would be to Robert Downy Jr.’s representation – there’s a great sense of humour along with moments of utter brilliance, all mixed in with a reckless eagerness to get right into the action. The two characters even look the same, well, if you squint a little.
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter sends you on five unique cases that are all part of an overarching storyline related to Sherlock’s ‘adopted’ daughter. It’s an interesting premise, especially given that Sherlock didn’t have a daughter in any of the books, though it does show a more caring side to the character. Everything ties together well by the end and it’s great to explore the Father-Daughter relationship that Sherlock shares with Kate, including all the problems that comes with it.
Whilst the cases do tie-in together by the end, they all feature a different story that feels unique in their own way. One moment you may be indulging in a game of bowls, another time you may be looking for a missing man. On another occasion you might be getting pursued by a psychopath huntsman in a forest, whilst you’ll even get to explore some Mayan Ruins too (in some shape or form anyway).
Each case lasts around two hours and offers a satisfying conclusion. By the time you reach the end of a case you’d have established a set of clues that help you determine the outcome of the case, each outcome on option offering a different morale choice too. It’s a neat interaction that actually makes it feel like YOU solved the case, even if it is possible to get the outcome completely wrong in the end…
You won’t just get to play as Sherlock Holmes on each case though. You’ll be calling upon the help of Sherlock’s loyal friend Dr. Watson, his street lurking helper Higgins and even his scent chasing canine companion Toby. Each character plays completely differently to one another too, so you never feel like you’re controlling someone else for the sake of it.
For the most part though you’ll be playing as Sherlock Holmes and fortunately the game does a really good job of making you actually feel like the famous detective. Whenever you meet an important character you’ll be able to asses their characteristics, looking for every minor clue and detail that might teach you about their well-being, state of mind, or even give you a clue about something they might have done. It’s a neat gameplay mechanic but it’s also a trait that has been synonymous with Sherlock Holmes ever since his first portrayal in Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels.
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter even features some Arkham-esque detective modes that not only allow Sherlock to identify key objects in the environment but also allow him to use his imagination to envision items or events that occurred. It works really well in-game and, again, makes you actually feel like Sherlock Holmes himself.
You’ll also be able to use Sherlock’s famous sense of deduction as you link up each clue you find and try to figure out how exactly they connect to the case. It reminded me of the ‘Mind Palace’ scenes in the ‘Sherlock’ TV show – there’ll be a series of words that can tie together, bringing with them some truth behind each situation. It’s an interesting dynamic that works quite well, though my lacking detective abilities did often leave me matching every word together and hoping for the best.
Sometimes you’ll have to cross-reference the evidence you find with Sherlock’s archives, an extensive library of information that cover a wide range of subjects. Admittedly it can be a bit of a pain to work through – whilst everything is split up into different categories, it isn’t always entirely obvious which one you need to look through.
It’s not all sleuth work in the game though. There are plenty of action scenes with characters partaking in pursuits, sneaking, climbing, distractions, the intense playing of bowls… you get the picture. Most of the action scenes play out with QTEs and mini-games, each managing to break the gameplay up from the typical mystery solving. A lot of the gameplay mechanics of the action scenes are utilised repetitively, though the context in which they are used is varied enough to keep them entertaining throughout each of the game’s cases.
Both the detective and action sections of Sherlock Holmes: The Devils Daughter are satisfying, with competent gameplay mechanics keeping you hooked into the game. Unfortunately there are a few issues that can hinder the overall experience. The game is built around the aging Unreal 3 engine, and whilst there’s nothing ugly about the game (in fact I’m quite a fan of the Victorian London setting) I couldn’t help but to feel that the game looks a little dated. Add in the fact that there’s the occasional frame-rate trouble and you’ll be left hoping that Frogwares can improve the presentation in the inevitable sequel. The loading times can be a drag too, with a fairly lengthy waiting period occurring between each location you visit in-game.
Another area in which the game lacks is with the voice acting. Whilst the game’s script is well written with some great character interactions, I couldn’t help but to be put off by how stale some of the voice acting was. Whilst Sherlock’s and Watson’s voice actors delivered their lines with a dry finesse, the same couldn’t be said for the game’s supporting characters.
Whilst it does have its share of technical issues, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter still offers another intriguing mystery for wannabe sleuths to solve. The puzzling is better than ever with gameplay mechanics that actually make you feel like the great detective himself, whilst the varied action segments offer an enjoyable way to give your mind a rest. We get to see a lot of Sherlock Holmes across various forms of media these days – here’s hoping the trend continues with his entertaining video game adventures too.