Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Sherlock Holmes : Crimes and Punishments Review

Sherlock Holmes : Crimes and Punishments is a mystery adventure game that was developed by Frogwares  and published by Focus Home Entertainment in 2014 for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, Windows PC, PlayStation 3 and Playstation 4. This is the latest game in the Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes series that started in 2002. In this game you are Sherlock Holmes as you work through six different cases. This review is based upon the Xbox One version but all other versions are similar.

I've always been a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and saw this game for sale a few weeks ago. I nearly bought it then but I didn't. After that I was on the Internet and found out that this game was going to be one of the Games With Gold games for March 2016 so I was pretty happy that I didn't buy it.

This review will talk about the basics of each case but will not give the endings away.


This game has you control Sherlock Holmes, and a few other characters, throughout six different cases. Besides Holmes and Watson you'll also run into many characters from the books including Inspector Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, Mycroft Holmes, Wiggins and Toby, a dog that Holmes used in "The Sign Of The Four" but it isn't his dog which confused me because Toby is at 221B Baker Street the whole game.

Watson and Holmes on the case.


1. The Fate Of Black Peter

This case is based upon the story "The Adventure of Black Peter" by Doyle. Holmes is called to the home of a retired whaling ship captain "Black Peter" who had been murdered with a harpoon through his chest.

2. The Riddle On The Rails

This case is loosely based upon the story "The Lost Special" by Doyle which is basically a Sherlock Holmes story in everything except name. While waiting for a train to take to a much needed vacation Holmes and Watson watch the train gets close to the station and then disappear. Holmes and Watson decided to investigate.

3. The Blood Bath

Holmes and Watson are called to the Roman Baths after an archaeologist is murdered.

4. The Abbey Grange Affair

A man is murdered in his house while his wife is tied up and belongings are stolen by a family of thieves. Holmes is called in to help out on the case.

5. The Kew Gardens Drama

Holmes goes to the botanical gardens to see a rare plant and while there learns that the Director had just died in such a way that Holmes feels he has to investigate what happened.

6. The Half-Moon Affair

Wiggins, the leader of the Baker Street Irregulars, asks Holmes to investigate a double murder that his brother had be arrested for.


You control Holmes in either a first person or third person view, your choice. This game has you using Holmes different abilities that remind me a lot of how his skill is portrayed in the movie with Robert Downey Jr. The first allows you to visualize how a crime has been committed by using Holmes Imagination. You know that certain events have happened and through using Holmes' Imagination you can rearrange the different parts until it makes sense to you.

The other is "Sherlock Talent" which works similar to Batman's vision in the Arkham games. When you move around a crime scene and get near a hidden clue it will tell you to use "Sherlock Talent" so turning it on and the world's color fades while the hidden clue stands out.

"Sherlock Talent" at work.

Both of these, especially the Talent, allows you as the gamer to see things how Holmes would but it doesn't really work very well. We are not Holmes and might miss what he would see at a crime scene but since we play as him the game takes all the challenge out of it. It works for the context of the game but it makes the game too easy in my opinion. I'm not really sure how you could change it to make it work how it does in the books. I did catch some of the clues on my own but I would have missed many of them without the game's help.

When you interview people involved with the crime you'll go into "Sherlock Creeper Look", that's my name for it, where time stops and you look over each person's body for things that Holmes would notice that he uses in his questioning of the person. The way it works is in a way like being on a track. You can go backwards or forwards but you don't actually control where it takes you. The game has the camera move from one point, say the face to the next, the chest and then the legs. There is a blurred out list that shows you how many clues you still need to find.

Sherlock Holmes creeping.

Why it's creepy is that you go and examine each person basically with Sherlock's face right against what he's looking at including faces, breasts and crotches. My wife walked by while I was doing this and wanted to know what I was going on as on the screen I was examining a man's crotch and she thought it was a little weird.

Once the clues are found you usually need to either gather more information on each by going through Holmes' archives or by doing experiments. Each case has a lot of different mini games to play to gather more information for the case. You'll be safe cracking, picking locks, chemical analysis and even arm wrestling. Each of these mini games are pretty easy but some can be challenging. If you are having trouble with one or just don't want to do them at all they all can be skipped.

Experiment to see if that metal is silver.

As you discover clues the game has a display that has each clue on the screen that looks like a visual of the synapse in the brain. Some of the clues just state a fact but the ones you need to be worried about are the ones that give you two choices. As you make the choices based on the evidence you've uncovered that clue will connect with another until you determine the motive and who the killer(s) is. Each case has at least 3 different people who may have committed the crime and I believe the highest was six different options.

When you determine who the murderer is you have the option to condemn them and have the police take them in or to let them go because you think that the killing was justified. Now I don't know if it's just me but the Sherlock I know would always alert the police that someone was the murderer and leave the judgement to make the decision based upon the evidence.


This game looks very nice. When you use "Sherlock Creeper Look" the faces of the people you're examining look great. Victorian England as depicted in this game has been done very well too. While it's true that I wasn't around London back then I think it looks how I imagined it would.

An archaeological dig in Victorian England.

There are a few things that I don't understand or thought were weird with this game. The first being that Sherlock Holmes' voice doesn't seem right to me. This is a more personal thing but it just didn't fit for me. Another was in one of the cases you control Holmes as he crosses some water on a rope bridge. As he makes his way across he will lean either too far left or right and if you don't steady him he will fall in. The strange part is that each time he goes over too much Holmes makes these strange noises. It was funny sounding and I have no clue why they choose that sound for the game. 

The vast majority of this game you are in control of Holmes but you do at one point control Watson and a police officer. The reasons for this are that Holmes needs two people and for certain things, in the game it makes sense. The part that doesn't make sense is controlling Toby the dog. Holmes brings him to the crime scene and he leads Holmes with his nose to a vital clue. When controlling Toby the screen goes black and white and you lead him as he follows a green trail that represents a smell. This takes a few seconds and is very easy so I don't know why the creators determined that the best way to do this was to have you control the dog instead of just playing a quick little cut scene showing Toby finding the hidden clue.

"Toby Vision"
Now people familiar with Sherlock Holmes know that on occasion he would use cocaine, a seven percent solution. I didn't think they would mention it in this game as this game could easily be played by kids. At the beginning of the second case Watson finding Holmes on a couch very sick. Watson looks him over then says and I quote "Please don't tell me that you have returned to your old habits?" Holmes quickly tells him that he has poisoned himself to see how a poison would act and if his antidote would save him. OK I figure it's just a wink to the fans of Sherlock Holmes. Cut to a few cases later and Holmes finds some white powder which he has to try.

Oh Holmes, not during a case.

Now the last thing that I will mention is about his telescope. I don't know if this is some in joke that I either missed or don't remember but every time you look into Holmes' telescope this is what you see.

She just stands there not moving, every time you look.


Overall I really liked this game. It is a pretty easy game but the way it has you using all of Holmes' examinations is a pretty good facsimile. Each case can be beaten in about two hours, It took me exactly 11 1/2 hours to complete the game (I like that the Xbox One tells you how much time you've played each game for.) This game can probably be played by kids without too much worry. There is no bad language and this picture below is about how graphic the game gets.

The only real problem I had with this game was it ended too fast for me. As of this review the next game in the series, Sherlock Holmes : The Devil's Daughter is set to be released on March 27, 2016 which I'm looking forward to purchasing. I give Sherlock Holmes : Crimes and Punishments a 8 out of 10.

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