Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Review
- Story And Setting
- Visuals And Performance
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is a masterful blend of detective gameplay and Lovecraftian horror that offers players an engaging and immersive experience.
- Developers: Frogwares
- Publishers: Frogwares
- Release Date: April 11, 2023
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X & Series S
- Gripping Narrative
- Expertly Crafted Atmosphere
- No Handholding
- Cthulhu Mythos
- Rigid Character Models
- Repetitive Dialogue
Embark on a thrilling journey with the iconic British detective, as we dive into our review of Frogwares’ latest title, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened. A bold reimagining of the 2007 classic, this game marries the fascinating world of Holmes with the eerie atmosphere of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.
In our article, we will explore the captivating story, engaging gameplay, and stunning visuals that come together to create a truly immersive experience. So let’s dive right into it.
Story And Setting
The story unfolds with a seemingly trivial case – the disappearance of Sherlock’s newspaper – which serves as an introduction to the game’s mechanics. As the narrative progresses, Holmes finds himself embroiled in a series of bizarre events that lead him to a dark conspiracy involving a cult seeking to awaken an ancient force of darkness. So the stakes are raised as the master detective faces his most challenging case yet, which threatens to unravel the very fabric of reality and plunge the world into chaos.
The elements of cosmic horror that inhabit Lovecraft’s universe are expertly woven into the fabric of the narrative, resulting in an engrossing tale that maintains a sense of dread throughout. The rich lore of both the Holmes and Lovecraftian universes have been expertly merged, paying homage to their source material while forging a unique path that expands the boundaries of the detective genre.
The pacing of the story, however, is not without its issues. While the portions dealing with the Cthulhu Mythos are consistently gripping, some of the other cases that Holmes investigates can feel tedious in comparison. This unevenness in pacing occasionally detracts from the overall experience, as I frequently found myself longing for the return of the cosmic horror elements during these instances. Nevertheless, the central narrative was strong enough to keep me invested.
As for the game’s setting, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened takes you on an adventure spanning multiple locations from London to Switzerland and even New Orleans. This variety in locales imbues the game with a sense of wonder, as each new environment is richly detailed and brimming with atmosphere.
The different backdrops serve to keep the experience fresh, as players are constantly presented with new challenges and mysteries to unravel. And although it is marred by occasional pacing issues, the game’s story remains a compelling experience.
You cannot make a good detective game without adding different investigative tools and mechanics, which Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened does not shy away from offering to the player. But these are just mere tools and won’t do the entire work for you, and they only supplement observation, logical thinking, and a healthy dose of intuition that the player must possess to crack bizarre cases that might be aiding the dark powers at work.
The game starts off with a hefty tutorial case that introduces you to the core mechanics of investigation, which include questioning suspects and witnesses, presenting evidence, and examining crime scenes. A unique feature is Sherlock’s ‘Concentration’ mode, which allows you to perceive details and clues that would otherwise be hidden from view. This mechanic effectively represents the world-famous detective’s exceptional powers of observation and deduction.
As you collect evidence, you can use Concentration mode to reconstruct past events by interacting with on-screen prompts. This engaging mechanic challenges players to use their wits and piece together the correct sequence of events based on the evidence gathered, providing a satisfying sense of accomplishment when the crime scene is accurately recreated. Successfully solving these puzzles unlocks new information in the Casebook, which can help guide you toward the correct conclusion.
Another notable feature is the ‘Mind Palace,’ where you can attempt to answer key questions about the case using collected evidence. The game divides evidence into three categories: Items, Documents, and Observations, which can be selected to answer specific questions. This mechanic adds depth to the gameplay, as you must often conduct further investigations to gather the necessary evidence to answer questions correctly.
Despite all these features at hand, sometimes the experience can feel a little bit overwhelming since, as mentioned earlier, the game forces player to solely rely on their intuition and deductive skills. This can lead to a genuine sense of achievement when puzzles are solved, but it may also result in moments of frustration when progress is slow. While it may be a positive point in many people’s books, including ours, for many it might be a turn-off. Thus, if you are reading this Sherlock Holmes: Awakened Review, be warned, this isn’t an easy and laid-back detective game, it requires quite a lot of critical thinking.
However, sometimes the absence of general tips can go a bit too far. One particular example is the evidence-pinning system in the Casebook. Players are required to pin certain pieces of evidence to unlock new dialogue options or clues, but the process can sometimes feel arbitrary and unclear. This can lead to guesswork and trial-and-error, which can detract from the overall enjoyment of the game. It only serves to make the game more frustrating.
Still, the developers have managed to offer an intriguing blend of traditional detective gameplay and puzzles that require lateral thinking. Players will find often themselves navigating otherworldly realms, solving riddles that defy logic, and using their investigative skills to uncover the truth behind the game’s enigmatic narrative.
Visuals And Performance
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened presents an immersive world that brings the game’s Lovecraftian-inspired world to life. The art direction, and environmental design work in harmony to create an engaging and atmospheric setting that effectively transports players to a realm of mystery and supernatural horror.
One of the most striking aspects of the visuals is the diverse range of environments that players will explore throughout the game. From the foggy streets of Victorian London to the vibrant culture of New Orleans and the beautiful landscapes of Switzerland, each location is richly detailed and radiates its own unique atmosphere. The game’s art team has clearly put a great deal of thought and effort into crafting each environment, ensuring that players will be captivated by the world they inhabit.
The character models on the other hand needed a lot more work, and the NPCs we meet in-game have some of the most rigid and unexpressive faces I’ve seen in a while. They genuinely bring the whole experience down a lot, by detracting from the otherwise great atmosphere.
Performance-wise, the game is mostly stable, with smooth frame rates and minimal technical hiccups. However, players have noted a few bugs and glitches here and there, one of which is the random nature of the functionality of the L1 button when attempting to highlight points of interest during investigations. Sometimes, the button requires multiple presses for performing its designated function, which can be frustrating during crucial moments of the gameplay.
Another minor issue is the repetition of NPC dialogue, which can become grating as players traverse the same areas multiple times during their investigations. While this may not be a performance issue in the strictest sense, it deserves a mention in the review, as it does have a bearing on the overall immersion and enjoyment of the game.
But despite these minor drawbacks, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened excels in the ambiance and tonal departments. The game’s richly detailed environments, engaging character models, and atmospheric cutscenes combine to create a memorable and immersive gaming experience.
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is a masterful blend of detective gameplay and Lovecraftian horror that offers players an engaging and immersive experience. The diverse environments, atmospheric visuals, and mostly smooth performance elevate the game, despite some minor texture issues and occasional frustrations during investigations.
The gameplay is challenging yet rewarding, with innovative mechanics like the Concentration mode and Mind Palace that require players to think critically and creatively. These features, along with the lack of hand-holding, create a true sense of accomplishment when solving the game’s mysteries. Coupled with the strong narrative, well-realized characters, and intriguing mysteries, this title is a must-play for fans of the genre.
This has been our Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles.
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