In recent years, Sherlock Homes has made a huge comeback. Whether it is the film trilogy with Downey Jr., the hit show on BBC, or the shitty American version of Sherlock, the world’s favorite cocaine-addicted detective is culturally relevant again! While television and cinema may be wearing deerstalkers with pride, Frogwares Game Development Studio has been doing their best to bring Holmesmania to gamers. The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is the sixth game in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes franchise, but only the second in the series to be on consoles. Now that you’ve studied the information behind the game, let’s put on our thinking caps and dive into this game!
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes (TTSH) takes a notably darker tone for its plot, a far cry from the previous games. The plot involves the same types of crimes and investigations as seen before, but TTSH gives an unabashed view of the grim reality and violence. The story begins with Holmes and Watson taking the case of a missing pearl necklace. Holmes quickly deduces the explanation and finds the necklace, only for that necklace to be found fraudulent. This is only the first in a string of events that make the public lose faith in Sherlock Holmes. Soon after the necklace debacle, Watson and Holmes investigate the brutal torture and murder the Bishop of Knightsbridge. Throughout the investigation, the character of Sherlock Holmes seems to be more and more untrustworthy, causing the player to question the agenda behind their own character’s actions. The investigation takes the duo through many settings and scenarios, from a prison break, to an abandoned carnival. Seeing as this is a mystery game, I’m not going to go much further into the plot.
TTSH is a point-and-click puzzle game, that can be enjoyed in first- or third-person. Seeing as this game is about investigating, don’t expect a Call of Duty-level of action. While the pace of TTSH may be somewhat slow, the puzzles and story keep the campaign interesting during every step of the way. You spend most of your time searching for clues, picking locks, cracking safes, and overcoming obstacles. This is also one of those games that are best enjoyed without using guides. Sure, I used a walkthrough when I was completely baffled, but solving difficult puzzles and investigations on your own is a much more fulfilling experience. The puzzles themselves can range from childish to something out of LOST, but the difficulty never exceeds what is expected from most human minds. If you’re into puzzles and brain-teasers, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes may very well be your bag.
The graphics are a bit of a complicated issue. When I first played this game, I found it to be on par for an average game on this generation of consoles. Naturally, it’s not going to be anywhere near the AAA titles that boast incredible graphics, but you certainly won’t be transported back to the PlayStation 2 when playing TTSH. After beating the game, I looked at the most recent predecessor of the franchise and saw that the graphics were absolutely dreadful. Compared to Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper, this game is streets ahead of it. So, you can take that as you like. It’s not an unbelievably gorgeous game, but it’s certainly nothing to scoff at.
The music that TTSH has is strangely familiar to many other variants of Sherlock in modern media, but not quite an exact copy. Mostly, the score is able to maintain the feeling of the era, without feeling outdated. The best part about the audio in this game are the sound effects. Since the gameplay is a bit simpler than most games on modern consoles, it allowed the developers to put more effort into the ambiance of the setting. You’ll hear every step, clink, snap, and crinkle when playing TTSH and I loved it. The depth and range of the sound effects only immerse you even more into 1898 London. While it isn’t a requirement, I definitely recommend playing this game with a headset.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is an entirely single-player experience. Now that I think about it, I can’t even think of a plausible way to manipulate it into a multiplayer mode. Still, it’s worth noting. Once you’ve beaten the campaign, you’ve seen everything that this game has to offer. So, you may want to avoid this title if you’re looking massive amounts of replay value. However, the campaign is enjoyable enough to warrant a second playthrough, if only to mop up missing achievements. Also, if you buy this game, you may consider lending it out to your friends to save them the cash of buying it. Sure, TTSH may not have replay value, but it does deserve to be played.
I’ve never been so conflicted about an achievement list before. See, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes has a fantastically easy list of achievements. They are primarily based on the story’s events, even the missable achievements are hard to miss. So, being an Achievement Hound, I loved this game. I got every achievement with little effort on my behalf. But, this elementary (PUN ALERT) list of achievements destroys replay value. Achievements were the single greatest thing to ever happen to replay value. Achievements can encourage: multiple playthroughs, approaching the game with a different mindset, and dedicating yourself to fleshing out every aspect of a game. Sadly, TTSH has none of that. So, if you’re looking for easy achievements, this is your game. If you’re looking for an achievement list that pushes you to explore every facet of the game, you can breeze past this mystery.
While I’m complaining about this game, I’ve got a few more bones to pick. First of all, there is no autosave. In this day in age, there is no excuse to exclude an autosave function in your game. It’s archaic and annoying. My ADD doesn’t allow me to stop and think, “Hmm…I haven’t saved in four hours. Perhaps, I should resolve that posthaste”. Not only does it frustrate gamers who become stuck, but it also brings me to my second gripe: this game has a few glitches that can halt your game. There are times when the game will simply not recognize the things that you’re doing, so it won’t progress the story. For example, you have to complete Deduction Boards on certain cases. This includes deducing the correct answer to several questions. When you’ve deduced all of the correct answers, the plot progresses. Sadly, I had every answer correct, but nothing happened. It refused to acknowledge the actions I was doing. So, I ended up having to reload a save from an hour ago. I understand that re-playing an hour of the game isn’t soul-crushing, but it’s an unnecessary irritant to the player.
While The Testament of Sherlock Holmes may have its flaws, I still think it is one of the best puzzle games on this generation of consoles. It puts you into the shoes of Holmes and Watson, allowing you to feel satisfaction in solving their cases and scenarios. This game was such a welcome relief from the over-saturation of First-Person Shooters and Action games that release during the busy season of gaming. If you’re up for the challenge, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is an excellent whetstone to sharpen your mind on.
I give The Testament of Sherlock Holmes 4 “Illegal Substances” out of 5
By Blake Edwards