With an apologetic tip of the long, fancy hat to original author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, we think it's fair to say that Sherlock Holmes' many adaptations have supplanted the original text in terms of prominence. Most luridly, of course, there is Steven Moffat's Sherlock, as well as similarly contemporary take Elementary, plus the Robert Downey Jr. Hollywood interpretation. Going back further we have Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone's iconic portrayals, and who could forget Tantei Opera Milky Holmes?
What we're getting at here is that any take on Sherlock Holmes detached from all of these previous presentations is necessarily going to take inspiration from its predecessors and must work hard to find its own identity. Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments feels like a hodge-podge of characterisation and direction, borrowing liberally from the aesthetics of Guy Ritchie's efforts while incorporating elements of the BBC Sherlock series for the deduction sequences. And, despite the somewhat unavoidable feeling of unoriginality, it all works rather brilliantly.
The first thing that struck us about this anthology was its excellent graphics; the game was very much a looker on PC and that's true on Switch as well. This is no lazy half-baked port; Crimes and Punishments runs at a locked 30fps and looks, quite frankly, like a million dollars. Of course it's a relative downgrade from the heftier consoles but it's still deeply impressive. Environments are detail-rich and beautiful, with impressive depth of colour and lighting. Character models are superbly detailed, too; and they need to be, as small blemishes and other details can make or break your solving of a case, here.
Flitting back and forth between locations as Sherlock, you'll speak to witnesses, examine victims, interrogate suspects and use good old deductive reasoning to try and get to the bottom of six different cases. These aren't entirely linear, either — while there is a prescribed correct "path" through each case, you'll need to use your own intuition and deduction to piece together the truth yourself. Situations will arise where the wrong option, or simply moving too slowly, will cut off a potential lead — and you don't get a do-over. This leads to an experience that feels more organically like a detective game than any we've played before (outside perhaps of the PC-only The Painscreek Killings).
You can move around each scene in third-person, or switch to first- for a more immersive experience. We found, though, that we needed Holmes and his fetching (and customisable) hat on screen at all times; we just enjoyed his impeccable dress sense. Examining a crime scene is as simple as approaching objects of interest and tapping 'A' when prompted, enabling you to get a close look to pick out details à la Ace Attorney.
It's also possible to hit the 'L' button to trigger a "detective mode" style feature that will highlight details that others besides Sherlock may not have noticed; this avoids feeling too perfunctory because you are required to linger on the suspicious detail in order for it to trigger, which causes related deductions to form on screen (rather like a toned-down, less bombastic version of BBC Sherlock's take on the "Mind Palace").
Once you've gathered enough facts, you're able to hit 'Y' to go into Deduction mode in order to try and piece them together. Cleverly though, while your assessments may well be logical, they may not be correct, and the game won't tell you that until each chapter is over. You're committed to your decisions in such a way that it's very much incentivised to do the best detective work you can rather than brute-force your way through. This makes you a better player and the game a better, well, game.
It isn't perfect. The six cases run roughly two hours apiece and are barely connected besides a minuscule amount of foreshadowing for the finale (which we didn't find especially climactic to begin with). This isn't a problem per se — a 12-hour game (at minimum) isn't exactly what we'd call short, but the piecemeal structure is a little less interesting than the connective tissue of the already-mentioned Ace Attorney titles. There are also a number of quite difficult puzzles, which quite frankly we didn't get a lot of joy from. At the risk of being accused of being "casual", we were glad that the option to simply skip these sequences without penalty was available; we wanted to solve crimes, not rotate abstract shapes! We also found the loading sequences rather lengthy and frequent, but it's a slower-paced game and a good-looking one, too, so it didn't bother us unduly.
Overall, this is the best Sherlock Holmes game we've encountered and a very auspicious debut for the consulting detective on Switch. This is far from a lazy downgrade, with developer Frogwares presenting a full-featured and compelling experience from start to perhaps-too-soon finish. It looks great and plays brilliantly, with only occasional annoyances and some weak (though thankfully skippable) puzzles to knock it down a peg. The fact that the game is willing to allow you to get it wrong means it feels less prescribed and inevitable as other titles in the detective genre, and that's quite refreshing. A little ironic that it took one of the form's oldest characters to finally land such a novel approach.
Lol no cumberbatch, I've heard about this game and it seems like it'd be fun but I think if I end up starting this genre I want to do so with an ace attorney game.
@FroZtedFlakerZz well there are PLENTY of options of AA on Switch (not really but still)
@FroZtedFlakerZz Danganronpa is a detective game(kinda) too. And it's impressive. Gyakuten Saiban(Ace Attorney) is about attorneys, and Danganronpa is about high schoolers, Hope, and Despair... But, both Ace Attorney and Danganronpa have detective elements.
Having enjoyed Frogwares' The Sinking City quite a bit despite its flaws, I'm more than ready to give this game a try, since it's considered one of their best releases and the Switch port seems to be at least as good as their previous one.
Is Moriarty in the final boss fight for this one man CSI?
@Serpo no, it's Horatio Cane.
@Lordplops @Serpo You can actually fight Moriarty as Super Sherlock in the Reichenbach Falls Zone once you find all seven Chaos Deerstalkers.
No comment on whether long loading times were improved for Switch. Xbox one version had some super long loading times.
This game sounds interesting, but the timed case mechanic sounds a little off-putting. Can someone explain that a little more?
“Situations will arise where the wrong option, or simply moving too slowly, will cut off a potential lead — and you don't get a do-over.”
@Dman10 It's mentioned in review.
"Lengthy and frequent loading"
Games like this plays best on PC.
Nah, the best Sherlock game is The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes, I remember playing that as a kid.
Definitely one of my fave adventure games of the past decade, one that really made me feel like the genre is 100% not dead. Can't say whether it's worth getting on Switch or PC, but for any fan of the genre (or detective games) I thoroughly reccomend it.
Day one because of no Cumberbatch.
PS: Someone mentioned Ace Attorney which is a fine fun game in its own genre, but when it comes to immersion, interactive gameplay and feeling like you are truly DOING the detective work, Crimes and Punishment (tho not perfect) is by far superior.
@Gwynbleidd In my case, it's a choice between paying 6€ for the PC version and probably never getting around to playing it, or paying 24€ for the newly released Switch version and actually playing the game.
Holy moly! How did they get this on switch like this? Amazing graphics. At first i wanted to buy this on pc, but look at the switch version it looks amazing.
Pre-ordered this one a few weeks ago, happy to hear the graphics and performance are great on Switch, but I would have been happy either way given the nature of the game.
Much of the mechanics mentioned are also present in The Sinking City, also from Frogwares, which is a game I like very much and seems like an easy transition.
Video games based on movies are usually a flop, but well made video games based on famous literary writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or H.P. Lovecraft are infinitely more interesting in my opinion.
I loved this game when I played it on Steam. I probably won’t buy it again on Switch but I do recommend it to anyone who likes point and clicks and/or murder mysteries.
It's not a bad game and a decent adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes character, but like all of Frogware's games, it has its flaws and obtuse puzzle solutions.
People don't like Cumberbatch?
@brunojenso It's less about Cumberbatch and more about Steven Moffat's awful writing.
@brunojenso @Magician Yep, Moffat’s dreadful. And I say that as a Doctor Who fan. Show somebody a scene of Cumberbatch smelling farts while in his ‘mind palace’ with random crap flying across the screen and they’ll wonder how this show was ever critically acclaimed.
Best Sherlock game?
I don't know man, that Famicom sidescroller where he beats the crap out of everyone he encounters was a pretty convincing package.
@FroZtedFlakerZz The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is right there for €40, just saying.
Also, if you haven't played the original trilogy, I'd highly recommend the Turnabout Bundle on the eShop which bundles the trilogy and TGAAC together for €60, €10 less than getting them separately.
@nessisonett I'm going to dare to say I liked it - but maybe a future watch of the series will show the cracks. At the time it felt fresh in a sea of samey TV shows. I even liked his Dracula series and I known that went down dreadfully with the public. The main thing that I didn't like in Sherlock was Martin Freeman, who I believe is one of the worst successful actors out there. He literally has one character, and unfortunately it's always basically the real-life him - big ego, zero humility. His and Peter Jackson's depiction of Bilbo Baggins breaks my heart. They really butchered that wonderful little book between them. How Peter Jackson messed it up that bad after the masterful LoTR adaption I'll never know - but Martin Freeman definitely didn't help.
@brunojenso Not a Martin Freeman fan for the same reasons you’ve said, he does tend to play the same character over and over. I actually did like Dracula though, more when it turned into a camp modern-day spoof than the historical stuff.
@brunojenso @nessisonett Have either of you seen Martin Freeman's character performance in the show Fargo (Season 1)?
I dare not spoil his arc, but I can say it felt like the character was written with Freeman's acting abilities in mind, most of which I never knew he had. Cumberbatch can't do a convincing American accent, but Freeman can do several variations quite convincingly, in my opinion.
Outside of that, I'd agree with both of you he hasn't had any challenging or compelling roles I've seen personally and his performance in Sherlock was quite forgettable, but to be fair most characters were forgettable compared to Sherlock.
@Astral-Grain Yeah he faired better in Fargo I guess. I'd say the Molly character in Sherlock was one of the most interesting - and maybe one of the most challenging roles to get right. I always enjoyed her endearing awkwardness.
no physical release on sight, i presume?
@Gwynbleidd Thanks for the info!
I do own a laptop with a decent NVidia card, good enough to run this game and according to the ProtonDB site, it should run well enough on Linux. The thing is, I already spend way too many hours of my day sitting in front my laptop for work reasons (and right now, for visiting gaming sites reasons ), so I don't feel like spending even more of my leisure time sitting on a chair in front of the thing. The Switch's flexibility (and its uselessness for work) is much more convenient in my case.
A Steam Deck may become a viable option for me in the future, but right now, I remain sceptical for a number of reasons. It has the potential to be a pretty cool option for portable gaming, but I'm not so sure it would fit my gaming habits and preferences. I'll wait and see.
Very interesting. I love these types of games though my time is limited. I'll wishlist it nonetheless.
Great Port. I love this Game. Hope for more
@Ventilator there´re people out there, don´t using a PC for me the Loading-Times is no problem. I don´t find them too long. It´s a Switch, not a PC oder PS, or XBOX. Maybe sometimes people forget this
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