The Game Is On!
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is a detective game in which you take the role of the legendary detective himself, and on occasion his friend and crime solving partner Doctor Watson. The Awakened is a remake of a 2007 PC game by developers Frogwares and features a unique story of Holmes taking on the cult of Cthulhu, the worshippers of the Elder God created by H.P. Lovecraft.
The game is set in 1882 and begins in Sherlock’s home in Baker Street London. You are presented with a kind of tutorial case, an easy mystery to teach you how to use the methods of investigation. You must find your missing newspaper from that morning, and follow the clues it spawns to discover what happened and who was involved. Though this mystery is quickly solved, it leads into the main story and your adventures truly begin.
Watson informs you that a regular patient of his has lost his manservant and the police are unwilling to help him, so you step in to help. The crime scene is the servant’s shack located in the back garden of the man’s house, and the garden itself. As you walk around you find things to interact with, some you can pick up with the A button and use the thumb sticks to rotate to look for clues, when you find something you press the A button again and Holmes will comment on the clue. Some interactions find you zooming in to the immediate area so you can look for a set amount of clues, the number of which will be visible at the top of the screen. If you are struggling to find any clues you can press the LB button which will highlight things you can interact with nearby. This isn’t often necessary though if you keep your eyes peeled and put on your own detective cap.
While you search for answers you will see a wavy tentacled circle over certain pieces of evidence, when you see this press the RB button and you enter focus mode, the world enters a foggy green state and you will see several circles at the top of the screen, the amount differs between investigation scenes, you must find enough clues to fill them which will allow you to reconstruct what happened and find the truth in that area. Sounds simple doesn’t it? There is a bit more to it though, throughout your investigations you will talk to people whose testimony will be entered into your case book, some of these people you will be able to observe closely. Under your scrutiny you will zoom into the person, looking them up and down, and notice little details like bags under someone’s eyes indicating lack of sleep through being overworked or stressed, whether someone is avoiding eye contact or changed their clothes recently and so on. Once you have finished scrutinizing the person, the evidence is collected and you choose between two possibilities of what the evidence points to, this then also goes into your case book which can be viewed from the start menu.
Each piece of evidence can be pinned, which means that it will appear on your main screen in a box in the top right, some clues can only be focused on if you have the right piece of evidence pinned. Another tool of investigation is the mind palace which you can find as one of the four options in your start menu. This screen shows you several neurons in Sherlock’s brain, each one is a question to be answered, and all the evidence you have gathered in your case book will appear here. There are always three pieces to the answer, which will be colour coded as yellow, green and blue. The combination of colours is different for each question, and the evidence is split into these three colours, to find the answer to the question you have to attach the correct evidence to the neuron. If you pick the wrong piece of evidence it will disappear from those available to pick for that specific question, when you pick the right piece the connection will glow green, doing this three times provides the answer and allows you to progress.
The remaining two options from the start menu are a map of your current area, and your clothing. The map can be used to fast travel between certain points such as while you are investigating a part of London, which is a large area to investigate, other area’s such as the Black Edelweiss institute have no fast travel points. The map will also show investigation scenes and indicate if you have completed them or have yet to. The clothing screen as you have probably guessed allows you to change both yours and Watson’s attire. You have options to choose from for the main body, hats, glasses, facial hair and even apply bruises if you wish. Watson’s options are not so varied, you choose his entire outfit in one. Over the course of the game you will unlock additional pieces of clothing as you solve cases.
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is a very enjoyable game and does a great job of making you feel like you are Sherlock Holmes, all methods of investigation work together seamlessly, allowing you to try to figure things out for yourself, but not punishing you if you get it wrong and giving you a little choice in your deductions, they are varied enough so that you don’t feel like you are doing the same thing repeatedly and are enjoyable to use. Sherlock’s dialogue and that of Watson suit their characters perfectly and the games music adds to the atmosphere and helps immerse you in the role of Sherlock Holmes. While there is no action in the game (like seen in some of the more recent films), the story is engaging and drives you to want to know more, especially if you are a fan of Lovecraft. It flows nicely from one case to the next, linking each in turn in the bigger story.
I thought the option to change your appearance was also a nice touch.