This would be a great Sherlock Holmes game if it actually tried to be a Sherlock Holmes game.
What I mean is, it starts off really well, and has two investigations that are very interesting, and very much in the vein of what I expect a Sherlock Holmes game to be. You explore a crime scene, noticing very little details about it, and piece them together in a 'deduction board,' an invention of a game which serves to gamify Holmes' famous deductive reasoning. It does a pretty good job of it, too! I also really liked the ONE scene where you analyze evidence you gathered in the crime scene, as there were quite a few clever minigames that I had fun going through.
The problem being, basically the entire game after that, save for two further, and much smaller, investigations, is literally just a mediocre puzzle adventure game, with a bunch of stupid 'find item -> use item' puzzles, and with far more puzzle boxes than I think should have existed in the late 19th Century? Normally, I wouldn't mind this...but I don't play a game in the Sherlock Holmes universe to go through puzzles that could be in ANY game. I play a Sherlock Holmes game so I can BE Sherlock Holmes, exploring crime scenes and solving them in a way only he could. And you don't even have the excuse there's so little you can do with that, because just look at all the cases in the public domain stories. There's SO many ways to adapt and expand them without ever resorting to stupid puzzle ♥♥♥♥ that even Sierra was doing back in the 80s.
That being said, I do like the voice work of Holmes and Watson, especially Holmes. And the environments are pretty well done, especially for a lower-budget game like this. I wish the engine was a little better, as controlling Holmes and Watson felt like trying to drive a drunken tank at times, but it didn't hamper my experience of the game too much. Though, there WAS a bit too much backtracking, and, yeah, the scene with the dog was completely pointless.
As for the story...it started out pretty well, and then went to ♥♥♥♥ at the end. Minor spoilers from here on out.
So Moriarty's in the game, because apparently you just have to use Moriarty as much as you can, despite there being perfectly fine villains in the mythos. I understand this is part of a series, and he would be suited for 'Holmes' darkest case yet,' but he basically just shows up at the end with little fanfare, and he's just this utterly-generic 'evil for the sake of evil' villain, not at all the criminal mastermind and equal to Holmes he should be. What buildup there is was fine, but his appearance was completely underwhelming.
Not to mention, the final twist at the very end, once Moriarty's dealt with. I actually would have REALLY liked that, and thought it would be a great way to take Holmes as a character...except it's literally JUST introduced seconds before the credits roll. We're given no development, no buildup, it's just a way to cheaply garner audience sympathy right at the very end. It almost comes across as a deus-ex-machina, if it had ANY bearing on the plot. Moriarty doesn't even mention it until he's [SPOILERS] and uses it as his motivation in basically two words.
I would have loved it if we kept meeting Moriarty as the game went on, and he kept hinting about it, and he kept saying he had a reason for his crimes this time around, and it kept us in the dark and serves as a primary motivation to his character, rather than he's just doing it because he's evil.
This game could have used much better writing in general. For being called one of the best Sherlock Holmes games up to now, it's surprisingly amateurish. I just can't give it a recommendation, even though it has just enough of the Holmesian spirit to get me wanting more. If you want to buy it, buy it in a sale when it's 75% off, because I don't think it's worth much more than $5-10.
I really hope the next game, Crime and Punishment, will actually satisfy me. I DO have The Awakening, so maybe that will, too.