The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel was the first of two games published by Electronic Arts under the banner of the Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes franchise, and is set in 19th-Century Victorian London, England. Arizona’s Mythos Software and ECA were both tasked with the game’s development.
It is a point-and-click adventure game; fans of the genre may find LucasArts’ SCUMM engine to be the most comparable in presentation and style. The game was originally built exclusively for MS-DOS, features 256-color VGA graphics and supports a variety of popular sound cards from its era.
Artist Scott Mavor was responsible for the game's unique artwork, described by one Electronic Arts executive as "The Mavor Glow". As the game neared release, Scott enlisted his mother, Elinor, to assist in designing some of the game's final art and animations.
A version for the 3DO was released in 1994. The port included full-motion video for most of the game’s dialogue sequences.
The manual for the PC version of the game opened with a letter from Holmes to Watson on the subject of software piracy. Holmes lamented the generation of illegal copies of software that caused the producers of said software to raise their prices, inflating the costs for consumers and forcing smaller publishers out of business. Holmes naturally suspects Moriarty being behind these malefactions, and urges Watson to assist in his efforts to curb software piracy for Queen and country.
The game opens in the alley behind the Regency Theatre, London, in 1888. A man in a black cloak and top hat hides behind a crate, smoking a cigarette. A woman in red exits through the stage door, and is attacked by the mysterious man, brandishing a knife. The next thing we see is the woman in red unconscious on the ground, another woman opening the stage door and discovering what has happened, and the man in black beating a hasty retreat.
The scene then turns to 221B Baker Street. A bobby arrives there, delivering a note to Sherlock Holmes from Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard. Lestrade has been assigned to the case of the crime behind the Theatre, and suspects the work of Jack the Ripper. The contents of the note are therefore unusual for two reasons: Holmes has requested that Scotland Yard not consult him on any of the Ripper's crimes, since they are without an apparent motive and thus not suited to Holmes' methods; secondly, the Ripper had been known to strike exclusively in the Whitechapel district of London, while the Regency Theatre is in Mayfair. Nonetheless, Lestrade believes that Holmes would find the case of interest, and asks him to visit the crime scene and offer his opinions.
Almost immediately, Holmes discovers that the murder was most likely not committed at the hand of Jack the Ripper, as the victim's throat had been cut by a serrated blade. Lestrade is not convinced, and continues his investigation with the Ripper as the case's prime suspect. Holmes, as is his wont, begins to explore other possibilities, leading him to a nasty web of murder, theft, abduction, blackmail and corruption involving some of London's most vicious and cunning criminals, and some of London's most celebrated and powerful elites.
The game's afoot!
Players control Sherlock Holmes’ actions through the use of an ever-present command box in the lower part of the game screen, listing the various typical interactive commands the player can employ throughout the game, reminiscent of the system found in Lucasarts' adventure games. By the same token, the player cannot “die” or reach insurmountable dead ends during gameplay.
As the game progresses, players can travel via the map screen to as many as fifty “authentic locations”, as the box art proclaimed. Once the player has chosen their destination by selecting the appropriate icon on the map, an animation of a hansom cab traces Holmes and Watson’s journey through the streets of London.
Several times during the game, the player is required to conduct an early form of forensic analysis at Holmes' chemistry table in his flat at 221B Baker Street. The chemistry table is home to a variety of chemicals and chemistry equipment, including a Bunsen burner.
The game contains a darts minigame, accessible at the pub at Covent Garden. The player can compete against four opponents of varying skill, loosely based on the opponent's sobriety. Victories against all of the possible opponents is required to progress in the game.
From start to finish, Dr. Watson transcribes every moment of gameplay in his journal, which can be referenced at any point of the game via the Journal command in the command box. The game even included printer support, but beware: Watson’s journal could often total in the thousands of pages for a single playthrough.
Anna Carroway: Star soprano at the Chancery Opera House, London. Recent female lead in From on High. Engaged to wed Antonio Caruso. Her sister, Sarah, was brutally murdered behind the Regency Theatre. Lives in her new home in East London on the good side of Bunhill Row (Street), number 25, just off Chiswell Street, Shoreditch. Enjoys picnicking near where Earl's Court runs into the Brompton Road, by the wrought iron fence behind St. James Priory School; Anna often speaks to a seemingly less popular young boy when she is there.
Lord Brumwell: Eldest male descendant of the Brumwell bloodline, a noble family for centuries, dating as far back as William the Conquerer. Father of Paul Brumwell, husband to Lady Brumwell, and former employer of Anna Carroway.
Paul Brumwell: Young son of Lord and Lady Brumwell. Student at St. James Priory School, which backs onto a picnic site frequented by Anna Carroway, his former nanny. Fond of gyroscopes.
Lady Brumwell: Elderly woman and Lady of Brumwell Manor.
James Sanders: Large young man, well over six feet tall, with coal black hair dripping with Macassar hair oil. Smokes Senior Service cigarettes. Lives at the Eaton Dormitory on Grosvenor Place. Student of chemistry. Player for the South Kensington Rugby Club, where he's never late for practice. Was romantically involved with Sarah Carroway prior to her death, despite the Club rules prohibiting contact with women during rugby season. Doesn't keep up on current events.
Toby: Famed canine friend of Holmes and Watson. Half-spaniel, half-greyhound, and known to but a select few as the greatest tracking dog in England, and perhaps all of Europe.
George Blackwood: Taxidermist and proprietor of Oxford Taxidermy. Wears a top hat and monocle. A very messy fellow, according to his assistant, Lars. Aside from taxidermy, is active in ha'penny strong arm tactics and blackmail in the service of members of the upper class.
Antonio Caruso: Resides at Number 86 on the Kingsway, below the Holborn Viaduct. Engaged to Anna Carroway. Acquainted with the World's Greatest Detective via his likeness in Beeton's Annual. Accomplished piano player. Spends his spare time at St. Bernard's Snooker Academy, where he took first place in 1887.
Inspector Gregson: The pride of Scotland Yard; one of its most experienced and dedicated officers, and a peerless investigator of capital crimes. He does his work so well and so quietly that the Yard often takes him for granted. He lends Holmes a hand in times where others wouldn't (or perhaps shouldn't).
Old Sherman: A lean and wizened old man. Caretaker of many animals, including the talented canine, Toby. Despite the appearance of the shop and of Old Sherman, he owns one of the finest private collections of ornithological subjects in all of England.
The Coroner: A large, open-faced man in his late forties who spends his days at the Southwark Morgue. Though his work seems macabre and disgusting to the layman, to him it is a passion. He exudes an aura of competence and discipline.
Lesley: Flower girl at Covent Garden. Sells violets, daisies and poppies, outside the Moongate Pub and Psychic Readings by Madama Rosa. Specializes in crafting personal cards on behalf of her customers. Loves to talk to customers who tip well. Rather fond of using colour to attract an eye.
Belle: The proprietor of Belle's Parfumerie in Westminster. She is a stern woman, cordial to her customers through effort more than personality. If you were to ever visit her shop, you will likely find her glaring at the cleaning girl who tidies the floor.
Nigel Jaimeson: Well connected brute and proprietor of Jaimeson's Buying and Selling, a pawn shop that serves as a front for more nefarious dealings. Dressed in professional tweed and wearing a permanent smirk.
Jacob Farthington: Barrister of Grey's Inn, London. An obese man with an enormous head and bulbous purple nose, indicative of the imbibing of many an alcoholic spirit. Friend of Sarah and Anna Carroway's father. Retained by Anna Carroway to investigate pursuing a legal claim of parentage days before her sister Sarah's murder.
Madame Rosa: Née Rose Chambers, Bethnal Green, 1858. Palmist at Psychic Readings by Madame Rosa in Covent Garden. Her turbaned head and Indian prayer shawl suggest a soothsayer in pursuit of experience and personalities from the "other" world. Her glassy eyes, however, suggest an affinity for cheap gin
Robert Hunt: An East End tough with a permanent snarl and studious nonchalance. Resides on the Lambeth Road, number 252. Possesses an intense interest in astrology.
Detective H. Moorehead: One half of the private eye partnership at Moorehead and Gardner Detective Agency. Frequent customer of Jaimeson's Buying and Selling.
Detective Frederick Gardner: Inquiry agent and one half of the private eye partnership at Moorehead and Gardner Detective Agency. Dark-eyed, left-handed bachelor. Anna Carroway is a client of his.
Hattington Street Chemist: A balding, elderly gentleman. Wears a grey smock that is emblematic of his trade. The lenses in his wire-framed spectacles are as thick as the bottom of a Vitaform elixir bottle. Writes with a shaky hand. Stocks his quaint shop in the traditional style, with its wares impressively displayed, as his father taught him. Sells everything from arsenic to zinc oxide, including Landsdown's Famous Liver Elixir, Vernet's Best Paregoric Mixture, Beechman's Tablets, and Professor Whitcomb's Catarrh Preparation.
Richard: A well-built, quick-witted and attentive young man of sixteen or seventeen years old. Works as a stock boy for the Hattington Street Chemist, though his street clothing indicates that he is not an official apprentice. Makes deliveries in and around Covent Garden every day. A Stagedoor Johnny that wanted to marry Sarah Carroway after seeing her perform in Love's Labour Lost.
Frederick Epstein: General Manager of the Chancery Opera House. Consumed by his work, he is uninterested in any activities that might distract him from his duties.
Peter Hollingston: Head Keeper at the London Zoological Gardens. The Gardens' managing director is a clean-shaven, robust 60-year old with youthful, attentive, sparkling blue eyes.
Simon Kingsley: Zookeeper at the London Zoological Gardens at Regent's Park. Has a particularly special friendship with Felix the lion. A short, slight, ordinary-looking young man with expressive brown eyes. Resident of 241 Grove End Road, just opposite Lord's, in St. John's Wood.
Mrs. Worthington: Owner of the Chancery Opera House. Shared a box at the Opera House with Sarah Carroway.
Mrs. Beale: Housekeeper to Anna Carroway. Remarkably thorough, perhaps to the point of obsession. Extraordinarily hard of hearing.
Felix: Famous lion of Regent's Park. Native to East Africa, he was lived most of his life in London following his capture, and has fathered most of the lions found in zoos across Europe and North America.
Constable Lewis: A stubborn bobby often found guarding the entrance to Scotland Yard. Taking his orders from Chief Inspector Palmer himself, he serves to enforce the letter of the law, rather than its spirit, as Holmes comes to discover.
Sergeant Jeremy Duncan: Duty officer at Scotland Yard. Twice decorated for conspicuous bravery during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, Sgt. Duncan has been recently confined to a desk since his war wounds began to rebel. He wears a replica of his Victoria Cross in his lapel. He has the regal bearing befitting a duty officer; with an authoritative presence and a voice accustomed to command, he handles his duties efficiently and without resistance. He is a known fool for flattery. As Augie puts it: "Susceptible as a child to a kind word, he is."
Jack Mahoney: The loud-talking, canary yellow Saville Row cashmere-blazered, heavily pomaded, waxed moustachioed, solid gold signet pinkie ring-wearing dandy of St. Bernard's Publick House. Married to the black-haired, violet-eyed black Irish, temperamental Peg O'Shea, which accounts for his many hours spent at St. Bernard's. Keeps company with a tall, red-headed stage actress, as evidenced by the red hairs on his yellow coat and smelling of Pois de Vie perfume. Friend of Antonio Caruso.
Nobby Charleton: Possesses gnarled, ham-like hands and a scarred face suggesting a rather dangerous occupation. Dresses casually in clothes more befitting a dustman from Wimbledon, topped with a bowler hat. Often found wiling away his days at St. Bernard's Publick House.
Henry Carruthers: Stage Manager at the Regency Theatre on Oxford Street. A rather insensitive fellow; more concerned with a broken door than his murdered acquaintance. He can occasionally be found sleeping on the job.
Sheila Parker: Stage actress, sensitive young woman, Sarah Carroway's understudy in The Loves of Hattie Hill, and witness to Sarah Carroway's murder.
Angela Ferrati: Anna Carroway's understudy in the production of From on High at the Chancery Opera House, London. Hired personally by Mrs. Worthington, owner of the Chancery Opera House.
Reginald Snipes: Snooty, overdressed counterman at Eddington's Equestrian Shop. Only cares for those interested in the equine. His shop features fraudulent coats-of-arms.
The Coach: A stiff-legged, large, short-tempered, cruel man. Coaches the South Kensington Rugby Club. Not fond of any of his players, except for James Sanders. Keeps a firm no-women policy with the Club during rugby season.
Tim: Waterboy for the South Kensington Rugby Club. Ladles water for the players, and is likely the team's dogsbody and/or mascot. A happy boy, very dedicated to his job, despite earning no wages. Dreams of being a three-quarter when he grows up. The players don't talk to him very much.
Pettigrew: Servant to the Brumwells. Has lived in Brumwell Manor his entire life.
Lars Sorenson: Middle-aged assistant to George Blackwood at Oxford Taxidermy.
Alfred: Works at Bradley's Tobacco Shop. Minds John Bradley's store while he hunts grouse in Scotland.
Constable Dugan: One of Inspector Gregson's men. Draws zoo duty after a most sordid occurrence at Regent's Park.
Officer Callahan: One of the most bored men in all of England. Primarily concerned with cleaning his boots.
Hastings: Stubborn guard at Bow Street Police Court. His perpetually bloodshot eyes indicate he may drink more than a pint or two during his breaks.
Violet Granger: Confidential assistant (secretary) at the Moorehead and Gardner Detective Agency.