My Word Holmes!
Testament of Sherlock Holmes
I will preface this that I have no prior experience with previous Frogware's Sherlock Holmes series. So I won't be able to comment on how much this has been improved upon the last game but this is a pretty decent puzzle game. The puzzles range from simple to incredibly difficult but luckily if your stuck, theres always a skip puzzle prompt that pops up. Also whenever you get a puzzle wrong you get an agitated Holmes telling you to try again, sounding extremely annoyed with your incompetence. Not sure how many players will appreciate that but I found it pretty funny. The puzzles though, sometimes don't make sense. Some of the mundane things like opening a drawer, people must use all the time. Would be extremely aggravating to solve a complex puzzle each time you need something. I think you will notice this when you reach a room that serves a classroom and the place is just rigged with puzzles.
Those worried about the story being spoiled in previous E3 podcasts, you really don't need to worry. What the developers spoiled in their own game is important but there is enough intrigue to keep you playing. Playing from multiple perspectives help keep the story interesting and helps to throw you off from figuring what this is all leading up to. The voice acting is pretty decent and match the characters. The one complaint I have though is the lip syncing is pretty off and pretty distracting. The atmosphere the game is pretty well done and really gives off that Sherlock Holmes feel. They put in nice touches through out the game which calls out to previous cases. I think these might have been to previous games but not too sure. I'm thinking thats the case because It mentions the area where Jack the Ripper was and I know that game was put out by Frogware.
I do have one story gripe with them that annoys me to no end, They use that age old framework of story telling by having the beginning show kids reading one of Watson's old journals. Then throughout the game we cut back to them and show them react to the story and drop hints on the identity of these kids. The kids are creepy and the game is hindered by this annoying and overused framework. The developers try to have this pay off in the end but no, those kids just remind me of children of the corn and this story isn't like Neverending Story or Rock-A-Doodle.
Gameplay wise, it's a budget title so it plays like a budget title. It's playable but theres room for improvement. I recommend to play in first person. You can play in third person but to me it feels harder to control and sometimes your avatar can block clues. Now the clues in this game are like you point and click adventure type. You enter a room and usually don't leave to you have searched up and down till you have found every magnifying glass icon in the room. The icons appear with a blue haze around when you first discover them and after clicking on them and solving whatever puzzle or object was there they turn green to signify that particular area is solved. Now I have been stuck plenty of times in the game searching for those things. Sometimes they are placed high up but the problem with that is you can't look all the way up, so there are some issues there. They do include a system to aid you when you get stuck, when pressing the left trigger you trigger Sherlock's "sixth sense". Which shows you any clues you might have missed. The thing you have to keep in mind though is that it only shows what is in your view. So if a clue is hidden behind an object in the level, it wont tell you its there till you have moved around it. This led me to spending a lot of time in one room looking for anything only to miss a clue because it would only pop up in an certain angle.
I really enjoyed this game, more then I thought I would. The story is pretty damn good and keeps at a good pace. The controls could have been better but for what it does its fine. At certain points in the game you get to switch between Holmes and Watson, which is something I wish they did more of. It made the puzzles more interesting by having each others movements throughout the level affect each other. I recommend this game to anyone looking for a good puzzle game with a pretty decent story. I look forward to see where Sherlock might go from here.