Some thoughts on Sherlock: Crimes and Punishments
The advertising for this is probably a bit misleading, what with the lead characters dressed in modern attire and some sort of darker trailers. But make no mistake, this is a pretty classical Sherlock game set in the original time period (the modern clothes are just an unlockable) and a sequel to Frogware's other adventures with the character. I don't have too much experience with the older games, finding them a bit obtuse and clunky at times. Crimes and Punishments is their attempt to get the series some broader appeal, and it largely works. Controls are simplified but without sacrificing too much of the formula.
The game takes place over six cases, all mostly standalone so it has a pretty episodic feel to it. There's a small running plotline about a "terrorist" group called the Merry Men that runs throughout but is mostly just background filler. I've lamented on here about how there's not many games that actually make you feel like a detective, and this game is one that does. For starters, every case has multiple suspects, and you can actually draw the wrong conclusions and condemn an innocent person if you're not careful. Each suspect you choose also has variations on how you handle their fate. A cold blooded murderer you might want to send to the gallows, while someone acting in self defense you might be kinder too. The actual murder weapons and motives can play into these endings too if you get them wrong, so each case has at least like 6 endings. That is where the title comes in, their crimes, your punishments.
The games does clearly try to ape the modern BBC series a bit, with a focus on profiling characters from the fact they have callused or danity hands, or a telegram sticking out of their pocket. It actually does a good job of making you think like Holmes, and you start to actually be able to guess what he learns from these profiles before he says it. That's actually I think one of the best accomplishments of the game. It kind of immerses you in the minutiae. Using Holmes' analysis table on Baker Street is kind of a laborious affair, often having puzzles that in most games would probably include half the steps. But I'll be darned if they didn't manage to sucker me in with the use of pipettes to test various chemicals. You will also need to browse Holmes' large collection of newspapers, research, and encyclopedias when you see or hear about say, a robbery in 1889 rather than just asking someone about it. You'll even get to control Watson and his dog Toby at various points in the game.
There are couple minigames that are busts, often ones requiring aiming or precision, which is not a surprise given the developer's pedigree. Most of the voice acting is well done, if a bit theatrical (Sherlock himself gets pretty hammy at times, but it is largely amusing). Some of the stories are a bit basic, even if they provide a good mystery at first. Graphics are pretty great for the most part, thought that's largely thanks to most areas being pretty small. You can "customize" Sherlock but those options are actually pretty limited. Most of the options are only available when the story gives an option to disguise yourself to get information, which are pretty rare.
Anyways, if you like adventure games, snag this when you can. Much better than I anticipated.