Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One: Detective game without the idiot factor

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One: Detective game without the idiot factor

Sherlock Holmes

Frogwares developers have had a tough time in the past few years. With The Sinking City, the studio, which is actually known for its Sherlock Holmes games, has made a detour into the eerie world of the Cthulhu myth. On top of that, the Ukrainians experimented with the open world genre - at least partially successfully. But eternal trouble with the publisher and ongoing legal proceedings brought the developers to the verge of desperation, according to their own statements.

But they don't want to let that get you down and the next iron in the fire is already hot. Sherlock: Holmes Chapter One is supposed to be a makeover for the master detective with an open world, crisp criminal cases and a gripping story about the young Sherlock. Only the publisher is saved this time.

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Table of contents

1. Sherlock Jungspund Holmes 2. Open World that doesn't think you're idiots 3. Combine, combine 4. Solid design with technical crutches

Sherlock Jungspund Holmes

During an approximately two-hour session Demo we were able to solve a main and a side case ourselves and get an impression of the game around the young Sherlock. Wait a minute, a young Sherlock Holmes? Correct, because Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One shows a detective who is just 21 years old. He is still far from known as a master detective, but the youngster has already got a lot on the box and has successfully figured out one or the other criminal case.

Sherlock is only 21 years in the game, but has that too at a young age Wisdom fed with spoons. Source: Frogwares That's why the story of the game is not about an order we received from a client, but about very private needs. In 1880, Sherlock is on his way to the fictional Mediterranean island of Cordona, his home. There he would like to visit the grave of his late mother in order to say goodbye sensibly. At the funeral itself he was still a child and was rushed away by Brother Mycroft to leave the island as quickly as possible. Ten years later, Holmes encounters inconsistencies while visiting his home country. It was always claimed that his mother died of natural causes, but he finds out that there was a police investigation into her death.

Sherlock is not traveling alone. Always by his side is his best friend Jonathan - "Jon" for short. Whoever thinks of good old John Watson is probably wrong. In our demo, Jon's last name is never mentioned - presumably on purpose - and in the original works, Watson and Holmes also don't meet until later in life. Jon, on the other hand, is a loyal companion to us even as a young Sherlock and comments on our actions with playful sayings.

Open world that doesn't think you're idiots

The game is embedded in an open world. Yes, Frogwares continues to rely on the trend of the open game world. Anyone who played the previous game The Sinking City will quickly notice that this same game probably served as a test balloon for the developers. While experimenting with the Cthulhu adventure, the game mechanics for Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One are being refined. Nevertheless, some game elements can be found almost exactly one to one. Like in the tentacle village Oakmont, you can also visit an archive on Cordona to look for historical events.

The urban area of ​​the island of Cordona is more or less freely accessible. Source: Frogwares Above all, the claim is there again. As an alternative to current open world trends, Frogwares does not consider its players to be idiots and does not incorporate any great aids. You look for question marks or exclamation marks in vain and you have to find your goal yourself. For example, you get the message "the place of the crime is Knights Road - corner of Trinity Way". With this orientation aid we go to the map of the game, on which we have to study street names in order to mark the right place at the end.

That leads to problems. Of course, it's refreshing when a game doesn't mistake us for complete idiots who need to be kept on a short leash. As a result, it happened that we searched a location longer than we would like. Just because we couldn't find the right door. Frogwares makes the open world task more difficult than their genre colleagues. Without the help of the interface, the level designers are asked more than ever to set subtle hints in the game world in order to guide the players.

Combine, combine

They are more concerned with it, over their heads to brood who dished out the game. Five main quests and over 30 side quests await you in Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One. The main part of our demo is one of the main cases, which also serves as a tutorial. The setting is a hotel where we spend our first night on Cordona. A séance, i.e. a necromancy, is held there, and it goes wrong. In the end there is a broken nose, a death and a stolen diamond.

Sherlock at his mother's grave Source: Frogwares To get to the bottom of this, Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One draws on a well-known repertoire of combining and Examine back. While we are eyeing the crime scene and questioning witnesses, various clues pop up in the diary. If we choose one, we can specifically ask NPCs about it. On top of that, we play mini-games or dress up. Great importance is attached to the latter. If we want to get information at the port, we also have to look like a torn dock worker and cannot walk around in fine threads. We find new clothes in the open world. Once enough clues have been collected, we reconstruct the sequence of events by sorting the right people to the right crime scenes in a visualization. In addition, in the palace of thoughts we combine our various conjectures into one conclusion.

Caution is advised here. Since Sherlock is not yet a master detective, mistakes can happen to him or the players. This ranges from misjudging a person to making false accusations. In addition, we decided in the demo whether we wanted to arrest the perpetrator or let him escape. That also suggests the notch of free play, but here it has to show how strongly the decisions ultimately have an impact.

The subject of combat is reduced, but Sherlock's adventure on Cordona should not be entirely without arguments. Unfortunately we couldn't get a picture of them yet, because the fights were missing in our demo. Annoying shootings like in The Sinking City seem to be a thing of the past. Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One wants to concentrate more on exciting criminal cases where the violence is already over.

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Solid design with technical crutches

The island of Cordona impresses with cozy lighting and a Mediterranean-Victorian style. Source: Frogwares The new excursion with the budding detective is still a few months away from the final release, so it is difficult to assess how the technical quality will turn out in the end. Nevertheless, we allow ourselves a rough estimate. For the new Sherlock part, Frogwares uses an adapted Unreal Engine 4, which was also used in The Sinking City. But if you think of the gloomy and somewhat boring places of Oakmont with horror, you can rest assured. Cordona Island is located in the sunny Mediterranean Sea and is much more welcoming. The chic lighting bathes the island with the city of the same name in warm tones and the Victorian design exudes a lot of charm.

Nevertheless, not everything is rosy in Sherlock Land. Although NPCs no longer pop up annoyingly or disappear if you turn around for a moment, they are still caught in stiff animations. The facial animations in particular urgently need a fresh cell treatment, because some of them are still quite soulless. This is only underlined by the actually good setting. If someone yells at us angrily but just looks at us blankly, it's a fat mood killer. L.A. Noire showed us what is possible here in a detective game over 10 years ago.

Although the game world feels alive, if you look closely, it is only a backdrop. Frogwares assures you that they want to fill the open world with interesting tasks and that many of them are still missing in our demo. So here it remains to be seen whether there are really additional incentives to just stroll through Cordona.

You can already enter the walk in the calendar for this year. Sherlock Holmes is set to be released for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Series X / S in 2021. Then at the latest we will also see whether the release from the clutches of the supposedly evil publisher pays off with greater creativity -94aa-e82e234d3fc9 "," rgTable-1 "," table "," fallback ");});

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