Sherlock Holmes The Awakened is the latest title from Ukrainian developer Frogwares. A remake of the original 2007 release shows the level of commitment Frogwares has to produce titles.
H.P Lovecraft comes to 221b Baker Street
Sherlock Holmes Chapter One for me was a great title. When Frogwares announced the remake of Sherlock Holmes The Awakened it went straight on my wishlist. Frogwares weren’t happy with just a simple remake, opting to change almost everything aside from the overall plot. Quest Design, Voice acting even the ending has changed. This means there is something for everyone whether you are a newcomer or played the original.
Blending the Lovecraftian world with the rational world of Sherlock Holmes. This dark adventure will push Sherlock to his limits leaving him truly afraid for the first time in his life. It is obvious from the outset that Frogwares have learnt a lot from both The Sinking City and Sherlock Holmes Chapter One. Typically you play the majority of the game in 3rd person however, it uses a first-person perspective for observations. Sherlock Holmes is known for his powers of observation, which is placed into the game in a really nice system. It is only through observing certain characters that you can get vital clues to help solve a case.
Starting at the familiar home of 221b baker street Sherlock is busy working on a case. Watson arrives to explain that a friend has reached out with another case. It isn’t long before Sherlock realises he is missing his daily newspaper. It has been placed into the bin outside and is dirty with a long cactus needle. This leads him to believe someone is trying to poison him, this kicks off the first case and the reality of the situation. I loved the fact that the game prompts you at the start to change your clothes due to the weather. It was a really nice way to see the mechanic introduced rather than “There is a wardrobe click it”. It makes it feel natural and helps keep you immersed in the game.
There will be no safety in London for you. Your cases will take you to the Edelweiss Institute in the Swiss Alps and further. Currently, it is under the supervision of Dr Gygax, who may have her own agenda.
It wouldn’t be a Sherlock Holmes game without finding clues and trying to deduce what has happened in various settings which include New Orleans. I do however feel that unless you have played Chapter One you are left to discover things yourselves. There is a real lack of explanation which can lead to a lot of frustration when you are stuck because you haven’t pinned a specific piece of evidence. I found myself stuck on quite a few areas to start with because you can overhear 2 characters talking. This can lead to a new case and added confusion.
By gathering clues from his surroundings, Sherlock uses his deduction skills to come to a conclusion. Finding the clues can be tricky as it is done through a point-and-click interface. The cursor must be moved across an area to find objects of interest. There is nothing incredibly difficult about this, except that the visual box that is highlighted when you find a clue is very tiny, which means you often have to circle the whole area just to find it.
The map system is nigh on pointless since it provides no real indication of where you are, and functions instead as a fast travel interface. When cases are complete the options don’t disappear from your mind palace. This also adds to the confusion as there are options that are options there for cases that were already been solved.
Graphics & Audio
Rebuilding the game from the ground up has brought the graphics in line with what we can expect from consoles. It is when the game is at its darkest that it comes to life, a single candle flickering working in harmony with the audio is wonderful.
Whilst it is a massive improvement from its 2007 release the character models just feel dead, there is no emotion. Allowing you to play some area’s as Watson is a welcome change it is just a shame the character models didn’t live up to the quality of the voice acting.
The voice work is superb, Sherlock and Watson really stand out and the voice matches the characters perfectly. I am not sure if they had children doing the voicework for the children within the game but it was a delight to hear them all.
Sherlock Holmes The Awakened is difficult, it doesn’t provide you with any navigation points. Listen to the clues and work out what really happened. Frogwares have indicated that the 8 chapters will take around 12-15 hours for full completion. With no difficult levels or other modes to go from
Sherlock Holmes The Awakened provides a great story especially if you are a fan of the H.P. Lovecraft style. It is not as polished as Chapter One however that is partly due to the difficulties the studio faced during development. There are a few problem areas in the game, the complete lack of navigation is at the heart of the game. When you have a map that doesn’t actually show your location it isn’t anywhere nearly as useful aside from fast travel.
It is for these reasons that Sherlock Holmes The Awakened is awarded the Thumb Culture Silver Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.