Way back in March the game Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments by Frogwares was given away as part of Microsoft’s Games with Gold program. I had been meaning to give it try since then, but there have been way too many things to play. I am happy to report that it is a pretty good modern adventure title, but just be prepared for a lot of loading. Seriously, you may need to get a book. A Sherlock Holmes novel perhaps?
Taking its queue from the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels on which Crimes and Punishments is based, the game is split in to six different cases. Each one with clues to find and chumps to make look stupid as you bring up things they thought they were hiding. Also nodding to Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment, when you wrap up a case you can choose whether to imprison the perpetrators or take pity on them and set them free.
Like most games in the adventure genre, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments involves a lot of walking around and looking at things, touching things, and talking to people. The more you look and touch, the more options you get when you talk. To help you look for stuff there is a Holmes vision that turns everything gray, but then highlights things you may have missed in yellow. Also when you talk to people you get to slow time and check them out all over so you can make those Sherlock Holmes snap deductions, like that they are a poor son of a rich man who now works as a fish cleaner. That is by far my favorite part. There are a few little mini-games as well that Frogwares uses to try and break up the monotony of all the looking, touching and talking. Some are good, and some are not. Luckily they are all skip-able.
My second favorite thing is the way Crimes and Punishments lets you piece the clues together. You go in to Holmes’ brain and make deductions, but some decoctions have multiple conclusions you can make, and based on those conclusions you can then make your final judgment. Once you accept this judgment a very Sherlock Holmes-y cut-scene will take place with him explaining everything. What is even better is that it saves before this cut-scene, so if you have all the clues you can watch them all. The downer is that the loading takes so long that you may not have the patience to do so.
If Frogwares could have found a way to cut down on the excessive loading times Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments may have been a must play for fans of the adventure genre. As it is, it is still pretty good and worth a look since it usually can be found for cheap. I am enjoying the feeling of being the Master Detective, I just wish that there wasn’t so much down time, but maybe they were just trying to give us more time to think about the case.