A mystery is afoot
What does a bitten off finger, a dead bishop, a mysterious poison, and a game of chess all have to do with each other? You’ll have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure it out. No, literally. If this puzzle has piqued your curiosity, you’ll get the chance to solve it in The Testament of Sherlock Holmes. Frogwares gives us the sixth installment of the Sherlock Holmes puzzle games and it’s quite intense.
In Testament, players take on the role of the famous mystery solving duo, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. It all goes down when Holmes finds the body of a bishop. The trail soon takes them through a graveyard, shipyard, prison, and even an opium den. Sherlock Holmes is famous for his brilliant mind, however Watson begins to question his partner’s methods. The deeper they delve into the case, the more concerned Watson becomes as clues seem to implicate Holmes himself. London’s love and faith in the detective is faltering. Watson’s loyalty is thoroughly tested in solving the ultimate mystery this team has faced thus far.
The game itself has you play as Holmes, Watson, and even the super sleuth hound, Toby. As such characters you explore your surroundings searching for clues and solving puzzles. Players can choose to either explore in first person or third person, and switch it up at any time. It’s an interesting concept, but it’s almost necessary to use both views to be able to locate all clues. In one view it’s practically impossible for Holmes to target an item, but changing into the other view he located it right away.
The puzzles were quite difficult. I spent many long minutes trying to figure them out. Although, if you don’t really want to spend the time thinking about number combinations and piecing ripped up paper back together you can always use the option to skip the puzzle. Yes, you heard me correctly. After a few mess-ups you have the choice to merely skip it. What’s the point in even wasting brain power to solve the puzzle if you don’t have to? After stumbling upon this option, it was extremely hard to avoid using it every time just to continue the story faster. A hint system would have worked more effectively at making it challenging and still helping the players out.
The story is wonderfully compelling. The more clues I found, the more I wanted to solve the mysteries and figure out exactly what was going on. The darker the story got, the more invested I became in Sherlock’s doings. The dialogue between Holmes and Watson is priceless, and even though Sherlock sasses John all the time, I can never get enough. Sherlock’s dry wit combined with my desire to solve the macabre murder kept me coming back for more.
While the story and writing are captivating,the game is unpolished. Moving through locations is choppy, with stutters in frame rate. I experienced numerous glitches while playing too. While exploring the shipyard, I couldn’t move my character while in third person, but when I switched it to first person I could move freely. It was bizarre and sometimes my game would just freeze altogether.
I never fully appreciated the autosave feature until I played Testament because the game doesn’t have an autosave option. I grew up in the era where autosaving was still a thing of the future, so manually saving wasn’t a big deal for me. However, it is a big deal when the game freezes and you lose the last two hours of gameplay. For the first time, I was disappointed to not have an autosave feature, especially because of the glitches I experienced.
Testament’s graphics are dated, but I’m actually glad for it. There are a lot of gruesome scenes and if the graphics were top notch my stomach would be churning. The music and sound effects adds to the intensity of the scenes and works well fitting with the atmosphere. But the one thing that didn’t mesh was the voice acting to the lip synch. It was completely off, not even close. It really was distracting and took away from the realism.
Sherlock Holmes is the greatest fictional detective the world has ever known and he completely comes alive in The Testament of Sherlock Holmes. Players will enjoy seeing the darker side of Holmes and if they can get past the unpolished aspects of the game, they will experience an enthralling mystery.
Review copy supplied
Tested on PS3