Sherlock Holmes has never looked or played better than it does in Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments. The latest in developer Frogwares’ adventure series uses Unreal Engine 3 for a much-needed graphics upgrade.
Crimes and Punishments takes place over the course of six perplexing, well-written cases that give Holmes lots of opportunities to do what Holmes does best: Snoop around crime scenes for clues, interrogate suspects, and talk down to just about everyone he meets. Murder is afoot in each of the cases, but that doesn’t stop them from being diverse; from an Egyptian-style ritual killing to a gruesome death by whaling harpoon the plots keep you riveted.
And like a good winding mystery, the person who did it is rarely the one you suspect initially.
The big new feature here is that there isn’t just one suspicious party in each case and you have the ability to accuse whichever individual you feel the clues point towards. Your conclusions are formed from interpreting clues that you find pertaining to the crime in question and interpreting them in such a way that a motive and opportunity become clear.
First, you’ll have to link facts together to form a node in Holmes’ brain. Most nodes will have two possible interpretations. Mapping out a crime isn’t as elegant as the interface may make it look; you can click randomly on nodes simply to get the conclusions you want and it was even possible for me to condemn a completely innocent person all because I missed a single clue.
In each of the game’s six cases, it’s possible to point the finger of blame on incorrect parties — for the record I finished with two cases solved correctly and 3 incorrectly — but at least you’re able to absolve the guilty if you feel they were justified in their actions. Crimes and Punishments unfortunately makes most of its murder victims fairly unlikable so it often feels like absolving their murderer is the natural choice.
Whether they be murderers, bullies, wife-beaters, or worse, it’s hard not to find sympathy for their possible killer. This undermines the weight of the choice you have to make by leaning on the side of the accused. Still, the game doesn’t punish you for being wrong — not directly anyway. Holmes will receive correspondence at a later date confirming if his decision was in any way correct.
What really sets Crimes and Punishments apart from its predecessors, though, is its sparkling new look. It’s gorgeous on PS4 every character is rendered in rich detail -so much so that you can see individual stubble and facial blemishes. It’s one of the most beautiful adventures I’ve played. Likewise, the voice acting is well done and pitch-perfect to Crimes’ style and time period.
Controlling the great detective is sometimes frustrating; he still makes leaps in understanding that’s beyond the average person. At the same time, that’s what makes him a compelling character. By allowing the player to make their own conclusions about who they think is behind a gruesome crime, Frogwares has introduced an element of doubt that I haven’t seen in a detective game for some time.
Crimes and Punishments is a very well made adventure/detective game with great voice acting and puzzles for the is too the difficulty of the puzzles can be hard on some, but not too hard for the seasoned adventurer, but definitely not “casual easy” either.