As a huge fan of the original stories, I always end up being disappointed in one way or another every time Frogwares makes a new Sherlock Holmes game. It is almost always the same experience: The games start great! You immediately find yourself at an enigmatic crime scene and get excited with all the newly added features and enhanced graphics and fall in love with the game within the first few minutes. However, Frogwares always successfully manages to let you down with a combination of inconsistencies in the plot, idiotic puzzles and graphical glitches. Fortunately Crimes and Punishments has a reasonably low number of these issues which makes it the least disappointing game in the series so far.
Crimes and Punishments has a different structure compared to the previous Sherlock Holmes games. It consists of 6 different cases with different possible endings. Two of the cases are from the original series and are very nicely implemented. For each case you need to collect some evidence and make conclusions based on your discoveries. The main problem with the story is that in most of these cases there is not much that you can do wrong, in other words, as long as you click on every object that you stumble upon and don’t miss any evidence, it is always pretty obvious who the criminal is. This makes the alternate endings of each case superfluous and lowers the replay value of the game.
Both story and gameplay do not allow you to be very creative. There are two new vision modes added to the game. One allows Sherlock to notice subtleties that other people might miss and the other allows him to use his imagination and go back in time at the crime scene. These are supposed to be game-changing innovations that take the game to the “next-level”, but they fail to elevate from a mere visual effect that you need to turn on every time the game asks you to do so. The problem is that the game will automatically tell you when you need to use your powers. If the vision icons are not on the left corner of the screen, you will know that you are not going to discover anything new by using your vision modes anyway. So every time you use these abilities it feels like you are following orders instead of being smart. This might have been acceptable if you could turn these “hints” off, or if this was an action FPS game, but in the adventure world you need to allow the players to be adventurous.
There are a few technical issues in the game, such as long and unnecessary loading screens, Watson getting in your way in small rooms or corridors and etc. which could have been easily avoided but I think the amazing graphics and sound acting make up for these annoying bugs and make the overall gameplay experience enjoyable. If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan I absolutely recommend this game, but I would wait for it to go on sale first.
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Time Played: 10-20 hours