Sherlock Holmes himself goes under the microscope...
The bigger studios in the industry are taking fewer risks and arguably producing similar experiences rather than ones that are new.Frogwares have made a number of Sherlock Holmes titles over the past few years across multiple platforms and this, Crimes and Punishments, is its latest foray into the new generation of consoles. Previous iterations have proved to be interesting, yet held back by poor gameplay mechanics and bad pacing.
Much like the great detective himself, Frogwares seem to have gone back to the case table to investigate things further. However, rather than finding out ‘who done it’ they have found ways in which to advance the franchise, not only in story, but also mechanically.Crimes and Punishments is set in 19th century London as you’d expect, but this outing takes inspiration from the Russian novel Crime and Punishment (as suggested by the title). The logic behind which is to find the right culprit based on both moral choices and choosing whether to absolve or condemn the right person.
Naturally, this is the focus of any crime game, but here your choices feel like they have consequences; where condemning the wrong person can leave a sour taste in your mouth.
Dependent on your sleuthing abilities, there are a number of different endings to each case which will be decided on who you chose to label as guilty, what evidence was found to use against them and finally how you go about sentencing them.
It’s at times like this where Crimes and Punishments feels much more rewarding than its predecessors, and any other crime games for that matter. Tying into a well written script and voice acting that will give a lot of other bigger budget games a run for their money, Crimes and Punishments provides a thoroughly entertaining series of cases for you to solve. There are your stereotypical accents throughout, but these add a certain charm to the whole package.
It is down to your keen eyes to deduce what is relevant and why...
The whole game is heavily reliant on gamers using their own intuition to find the correct evidence, and deducing the sequence in which to investigate the scenes and evidence which you have gathered. Following in the vein of games such as LA Noire, there is a lot of trawling through crime scenes and areas, where many of the items found will hold little to no relevance to the outcome of the case. However, it is down to your keen eyes to deduce what is relevant and why.
Sherlock visionUsing what is called ‘Sherlock Vision’ you can spy out hidden details which may have otherwise been missed, such as a space in the dust where an object once laid, or interesting footprints and tracks in the dirt. Constant narration of Holmes’ internal dialogue helps keep things ticking along logically and giving an insight into the thought processes behind the investigation.
Between the sections where you interrogate suspects and collect evidence, there are moments where you return to Baker Street in order to investigate things further. Returning to your analysis table allows you to piece together broken items, reproduce murder weapons or even recover lost words on a now blank document. These range from being quite challenging to being ridiculously simple, but keep the game ticking along nicely.
Mystery solved? Or more questions raised?Without question, this is the best Sherlock Holmes has looked in any videogame outing, and truly benefits from jumping from last generation consoles to current generation. The world is brought to life considerably with extra layers of detail given to the surrounding environments and crime scenes alike, resulting in cases that feel like they take place in a living breathing world.
Not everything is as rosy as the cheeks on the eagle-eyed inspector after a brisk jog whilst scouring the latest crime scene for clues however. Crimes and Punishments isn’t without its flaws and minor nuances that are hard to ignore when they’re staring you in the face.
Whilst the game itself looks rather nice, the travel animations within Sherlock’s cab haven’t been seen since the PS2 arrived several years ago. Honestly, it’s like the cab is sat on a rotating wheel past which the same environments scroll by on a loop until the game has loaded. Remember how cartoons used that trick when characters were walking down the street? Yeah, it’s like that. The more open environments are met with horrible drops in frame rate and screen tearing, which don’t do the game justice at all.
The loading is painfully slow too, which wouldn’t be too bad if it was infrequent, but you end up having to flit between scenes every five minutes as the case opens up beyond the initial crime scene. It gives you time to reflect on the evidence you have compiled thus far, but there’s only so many times you can flick through your casebook. Frogwares needs to work on its geography somewhat too, considering in one case the following train stations were all in close proximity to one another: Nottingham, Chesterfield, Brighton, Doncaster and London.
- Graphical Improvements
- Well-written scripts
- Extensive cases
- Weak travel animations
- Horrible load times
- Frame rate issues
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments PS4 ReviewThese nuances are minor flies in the otherwise polished ointment that Frogwares have provided in Crimes and Punishments. Whilst you can’t ignore them, they don’t spoil the overall enjoyment of the rest of the game. Profiling potential suspects, marking down noticeable details that may prove their innocence or guilt is a neat trick. Whilst listening to their stories and the rest of the script is engaging and in-depth, giving the period setting more life and making it a worthwhile escape from the crowded modern/futuristic genre.
What is questionable however is the cost of Sherlock's latest escapades and whether or not you'll find the asking price justifiable or not. With a full-whack RRP this release will probably find itself in bargain bins nationwide all too quickly, which is a shame as there is plenty of content on offer here. Once a case is complete you can re-visit it to make the correct decisions if you got it wrong initially or, conversely, you can purposefully convict the wrong person to view the outcome of doing so. Either way, if you want a break from shooting people in the face or hoping for a new piece of loot to drop then this could be an avenue worth exploring.
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