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We tested it: Sherlock Holmes Chapter 1

We tested it: Sherlock Holmes Chapter 1

Fortunately, the stories of Sherlock Holmes, the brilliant detective in London who enjoyed great note and similar boxing skills, can no longer be traced through novels, short stories, and films, as many game developers have been inspired by the format created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. For example, in the first work of the Ukrainian Frogwares team, we were able to smell this strange genius in several suspicious cases almost two decades ago, and since then there have been many successful episodes with the detective starring (most recently the great The Devil’s Daughter). However, Frogwares have not yet dreamed of such a large-scale adventure about a fairy tale conclusion as in the case of Sherlock Holmes Chapter One, which arrived in November, and which we had the chance to try again, long before it was released in a somewhat flashy show. So let our experiences and conclusions come!

The story of the first chapter is set in the 19th century and begins on a ship where we hide in the skin of the protagonist, struggling with somewhat annoying seasickness. We head to our former hometown, the picturesque island of Cordona, where we can unwind from the exhaustion of our former chores, as well as visit the grave of our deceased father. When we get to the ground, instead of the relaxation we deserve, of course, we find a more dangerous situation again – which can be understood as the actual tutorial as well.

In addition to the advice of his sharp mind and indispensable companion in the investigation, John, Holmes’ chief assistant will be his notebook, which he always had. Information obtained during the investigation will be recorded here, as well as advice on the next step, but here we can also specify topics and events that we can ask of those who stand in our way to see if they can provide useful comment. The diary also includes a map showing the highlights, as well as the diary of our partner, John, who makes bitter remarks about our own competence and potential setbacks. It is also worth paying attention to these posts, as they often help bring back the story.

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Exploring action scenes uses our ability to focus, while observing with focus what may have escaped the attention of others. In this case, the circle indicates points that may be important for some reason and may advance our case, but may also reveal suspicious footprints. We can look not only at things, but also at individuals, and reveal some of their most interesting qualities, as well as their relationship with Sherlock.

“I’m not a psychopath, I’m a very well-functioning sociopath”

One of the important new things compared to the demo of the past was that we now had the opportunity to get a taste of the combat system as well. Because the chief investigator, of course, has more than just friends and allies, so we will often meet those who are not on the right side of the law – in which case the power of words will be little, we will have to rely more on our weapons and our fists. During engagements, it is useful to take advantage of the terrain and weaken our opponents away from cover, because it is not uncommon for them to wear armor, and that is what we must take off of them first to make them harmless. We can divert the attention of less-equipped villains by using certain landmarks, such as letting steam in their faces, and quickly tying their hands while they try to recover. Since Sherlock is a law-abiding citizen, we should try to capture our enemies alive whenever possible, because excessive brutality certainly affects our relationship with Jon in a negative direction. The combat is quite dynamic anyway, and while the AI ​​isn’t exactly at the height of the situation, the struggles full of traps, diversions, and some tactics are a bit like a logical task to solve, and thus fit the protagonist perfectly.

By the way, we not only get in trouble with criminals during the main story, but for some additional challenges we can also visit the thieves’ nest where we get points as well as some money for catching crooks depending on our performance. On the one hand, we can buy new clothes from the physical tailor from the local tailor, which is especially important, because not only can we get some information if we sneak somewhere with the right clothes, undercover, but we can also spend on our fork equipment. And anyone who wants to focus exclusively on the investigation can stop the whole fight.

The most striking innovation in the first chapter is that our adventures now take place in a completely open world. After our first case is landed and resolved, we find ourselves at Sherlock’s mother’s grave, where we (like the creators’ previous work, The Sinking City) can explore the city divided into several areas. As the story progresses, the gates open for us and we get access to more and more buildings and locations, including visiting the local police or a tailor, where we can enrich our wardrobe. Although you can travel on foot, you can use fast travel to reach the highlights with a single tap on the map.

Crime is common, logic is rare

Small mini-games contribute to the success of the investigation: on one occasion, for example, we were able to listen to the conversation of a few maids and filter from the sentences that were said what was relevant and one step closer to the solution. Other times I had to match the bits of information I collected according to which one fit, but it was also interesting to do chemical experiments or just try to piece together a lot of small details from the clues available in the police archive.

We can read John’s posts with pleasure, as, as mentioned earlier, he often makes very sharp remarks about our investigation: on one occasion, he noted, for example, that people are starting to look at us more and more strangely to ask them about nonsense. It is also a good idea for the authors to find out from one of the papers available in the Medina newspaper how our decision at the end of our previous investigation affected the fate of the accused. By the way, the developers promised that the game will put us in completely different decision-making situations in each case, depending on the amount and quality of the information collected, and already feels that the replay factor will be a serious argument for the first chapter. If only because the game didn’t get our hands on it: We can stand in the way and pace of adventure exploration the way we like, and while we don’t get clear instructions on when to do what we’re doing, you won’t feel lost in the open world.

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By the way, an open world: getting around the city is also fun, I liked the way passers-by took into account the difference in social rank between Holmes and themselves, the poor, for example, tended to be modest or to indicate that they were reluctant to talk about some kind of rich scoundrel. There can be no complaints about the visual world, it is comfortable, days change, bright sunshine gives way to a night full of flowerpots, the elements of the environment are detailed enough, but I am not entirely satisfied with the appearance of the characters, the supposed improvement is to be expected. As with the cartoon, Sherlock’s path, for example, is still very carved with an axe, but there is still time to get out.

The first chapter is the result of nearly two years of development work, and it undoubtedly shows that there are indeed quite a few similar works behind the creators. The definitive edition will offer nearly 40 hours of adventure on the sunny island of Cordona on the Mediterranean. There’s still time until the mid-November release, and I’m sure the engine will be improved by then, because in some places the FPS number tends to drop sharply (expected to be GTX 1080 TI, Core i7, 16GB that will be needed). 60fps 1080p of memory – which is not important). And anyone who wants to pre-order the game will get a previous adventure, Crimes and Punishments, as a gift, among other extensions.

Sherlock Holmes Chapter One will release on November 16, 2021 for PC as well as PS5 and Xbox Series S/X consoles, but a release for previous generation consoles has yet to be seen.

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