Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter, developed by Frogwares, is the latest entry in the long-running Sherlock Holmes series, only this time the game is published by Bigben Interactive rather than Focus Home Interactive. Now, I love the Sherlock Holmes series. Even though the games can be of varying graphical and gameplay quality, I love the fact that I can immerse myself in the world of Arthur Conan Doyle and step into the shoes of the Great Detective himself. I love the stories and mysteries that he finds himself in. When the chance came to play and review The Devil’s Daughter I didn’t need to think twice before jumping at it.
If you’ve played any of the previous game in the series, but especially the last entry – Crimes and Punishments – you will be very familiar with both the world and the characters. Sherlock Holmes and his faithful companion Doctor John Watson inhabit a version of Victorian London which, while mostly historically accurate, has an undercurrent of menace. Previous games have seen Holmes and Watson go up against a Cthulhu cult, the fictional French thief Arsene Lupin, and even the famous serial killer Jack the Ripper – which actually had a fairly believable explanation of who the Ripper was – and this latest entry promises to be one of the detective’s most compelling cases yet.
You can observe characters to pick up on clues
The foundations set down in Crimes and Punishments are still present. Instead of one single case which spans the entire game, as was the case in the early instalments, you play through five separate cases, each independent and each with its own outcome. A couple of threads run through the five cases and build up to form the overarching story – more on that later. As you play through each case you explore locations, solve puzzles, find clues and work out who is the villain of each story. In some ways it’s a bit surprising that this game wasn’t released as an episodic series as it certainly fits the format, but I have no complaints about getting the entire series in one go and being able to play through at my own pace.
Even though the foundations are familiar there are a lot of new changes and gameplay mechanics, which provide a more action-oriented experience. For example, at certain points a character is required to walk across a narrow beam. This is accomplished by keeping the left and right control sticks within a particular area. The longer you can do this, the farther the character gets. If you completely mess it up the character falls and you have to start the section again. Similarly there are places where you can eavesdrop on conversations, and this uses a similar mechanic of keeping the sticks within a certain area.
Shhh, I’m hunting toffs!
Aside from these and other quick-time type events, there are also larger sections where the gameplay changes. Some examples are a sequence where you have to tail a suspect without him seeing you, making use of cover when he turns around – I had some flashbacks to Assassin’s Creed on that one – and a Tomb Raider-esque journey through an ancient temple, complete with collapsing floors and moving walls. There are a couple of stealth sections, which I’m not a huge fan of anyway, and one section where I had to run away from a hunter, moving from cover to cover as he was shooting me. That one took a while.
I didn’t dislike these parts but I felt that they went on a bit too long. There were times where I was wondering how much longer a particular sequence would go on for, especially when one mistake would send you back to the start. The game does provide an option to skip these sections, in the form of a button which appears if you fail too many times, but the completionist in me wants to experience everything. Maybe I’ll take advantage of the skip button on subsequent playthroughs.
More rugged, more handsome, more insufferable.
The cast of characters has also gone through a number of changes. The main changes are Holmes and Watson themselves, who are much younger than they were in the previous games – presumably to make the action sequences a bit more believable. The voice actors are a lot younger and energetic than before as well, in fact I may be wrong but Dr Watson’s voice sounds a lot like Gideon Emery. I haven’t been able to find a cast list thus far so I can’t confirm or deny this. In any case the voice acting is very well performed and the script is well written.
New characters have been added to the cast, in most cases these are specific to the episodes they appear in, but two are of note as they appear over and over again. The first is Alice de Bouvier, Holmes’s new neighbour. A pretty young woman, she seems to have her own secrets, and part of the overarching plotline revolves around uncovering these. The second is a young girl, the identity of whom I won’t spoil, except to say that her arrival shows Holmes’s character and personality in a new light. Again she is bound up in the main plot. Which one of these is the titular Devil’s Daughter is something I have yet to discover. I have my theories though.
I keep wanting to climb these buildings!
The cases take some elements from the Sherlock Holmes stories but they are really their own separate entities. The wide variety of locations means that one moment you will be investigating a murder at a local bowls club and the next you are learning the history of an ill-fated expedition to South America. It’s this twisting and turning that makes the stories so interesting and fun to play. There are a fair few humorous moments and call backs to previous games scattered throughout, and the locations are well designed and beautifully presented. The main Baker Street area is large and explorable, providing a break from puzzling through the latest set of clues and objectives.
If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes you will love this game and the fresh interpretation it gives on the characters and world. If you enjoy games with deep and intricate storylines you will find a lot to like here, as each layer peels away to reveal many more. If you like games you can play in short chunks, such as episodic games, again you will like this game as each case can be completed in 2-3 hours and you will have a complete story each time, with only a few loose ends leading into the next one. I really love this game, even though parts of it can be a bit frustrating, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a churchyard to sneak through.