Ah good evening, Watson, so good to see you rested after our encounter with Arsène Lupin, Cthulhu, and Jack the Ripper. Who is our great nemesis today, you ask? Well that’s obvious, Watson, it’s me… apparently.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is the latest in Frogware’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series. The series themselves are an odd mix, the odd plotlines coupled with some very strange dialogue in places created and almost surreal Sherlock Holmes experience. In my opinion the series peaked with Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, a game in which Sherlock Holmes battled wits with cultists and Cthulhu. I am not kidding and yes, it is as awesome as it sounds. Even beyond the wonderful premise the game itself is actually pretty good. If you’re a fan of adventure games you’ll probably find it an enjoyable, and unexpectedly gory, experience.
Alas I am stalling. For me The Awakened was the best game in the series though the others were fairly good games in their own right. I found Sherlock Holmes versus Arsène Lupin (also known as Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis) to be enjoyable but buggy and Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper to be fun but the victim of questionable design choices. Still, in that game you got to see Holmes and Watson act out the murders of Jack the Ripper. Seeing Holmes’ looped animation of striking, strangling, and otherwise mauling Watson was a delightful, if surreal experience.
So now we reach the Testament of Sherlock Holmes…
It’s bad. It’s really bad. A brief outline of the plot: the game starts with some appalling badly voice acted children playing around in an attic and finding the journal of Dr Watson who recorded the events of the game.
The proper game starts off with Sherlock Holmes going through the motions of his regular cases; until he starts getting accused of various crimes. He doesn’t help his case by acting like the biggest arsehole in all of Ol’ London Taaaan. The game is mostly told from the perspective of Watson who is as in the dark about Sherlock’s actions as the audience. Things come to a head when it looks like Sherlock Holmes has started straight up killing people. But it all starts to revolve around a plot against the throne.
So, good things about the game…
Ooh! I know! There is an excellent section where you get to play as a dog! And the character model for it is just adorable as the dickens. It actually does make for a fun section of gameplay, a twist on the classic adventure game style.
This is, however, the most enthusiasm I can muster for this game. The plot is trouser-eating retarded and has the most ridiculous ending. When you’re making an adventure game good plotting is incredibly important. It can be saved by good characterisation but this game doesn’t even have that. Watson just comes off as an idiot and Sherlock Holmes is a dick. Even after the big reveal of what’s really going on I just hated these characters so much.
So what about gameplay? Well, let’s start off with the user interface. The UI has three different modes, you can play in first person, third person, and classic point and click style. None of them work! In third person mode your character model takes up so much of the screen you can’t see what you’re meant to be looking for. In the point and click style it is so difficult to navigate around the different camera angles in each room that I gave up trying to use it almost instantly. I used to the first person mode for most of the game but that was frustrating because the camera has this odd sweeping motion that generally carries you over the item you were trying to look at. I had to mess about with the mouse sensitivity and experiment until I could actually get the thing workable.
The majority of the puzzles in this game are extremely contrived and do little for the experience but break the flow of the story. Thankfully there is a skip puzzle button that appears when you linger on one too long. A shame there isn’t one for the bloody deduction boards which have you hunting around for the one piece of information that isn’t quite what the game says it should be.
This is not a good game. It is an adventure game with a poor plot, poor characterisation, poor gameplay, and one wonderful section where you don’t play as any of the main characters. If the whole game could have been from the perspective of Toby the Dog I might have enjoyed it, but as it stands I did not like it.
It is a shame, the surreal humour behind this series just wasn’t there. Instead Frogware seemed to be trying to make it gritty and edgy. They do not achieve their goal. It’s just annoying and I don’t have anything more to say.
Currently on Steam for: £24.99