We took a closer look at the case of Black Peter that we were introduced to at last years E3 where we named Crimes and Punishments as best Adventure Game of the show! Would our hands on time prove that Frogwares latest game in the Sherlock Holmes franchise really makes you feel like the good detective?
Sherlock Holmes Crimes and Punishments isn't your standard adventure game, it plays out across 6 different cases ranging from murders to disappearances in some of the poorest and more affluent areas of London, the cases such as the Adventure of Black Peter which we looked at could take as long as four hours to crack with others taking even longer or considerably shorter. Best of all is a case can be finished whenever you really like, you needn't find all of the clues or suspects possible, and you could be the worst possible Sherlock Holmes ever, but you can play it that way!
So did we feel like Mr Holmes? In the short time we had our hands on it we inspected suspects to build up their character portrait, interjected in conversations to give substance to accusations made and examined a crime scene to pick up on the clues that many police inspectors would miss, such as an empty space on a shelf with the Detective mode style vision or noticing the initials on a seemingly insignificant item out of view.
Sherlock Holmes has always been the master of disguise, but its never really been something prominent in the games, however Crimes and Punishments features a full-on makeup table and wardrobe for your perusal, and whilst we didn't get to see its effectiveness in a mission, changing his facial hair and clothing is great!
A new mechanic that we did get to try out was the new deduction board, although its now less of a board and now more like a big mind map made up of all of the clues you've picked up during your investigation. Clues can be paired together and a deduction can be made on the link between the two, this will then go on to form an intricate web that ultimately gives you a choice on your current suspects.
When you've come to a conclusion on who you believe is the guilty party you are presented with your moral choice; do you condemn the suspect or do you absolve them. You'll surely find a lot of forgiving people absolving the guilty, but whatever choice you make, you are treated to a sort of epilogue for the case showing the state of the suspects you have dealt with.
At the end of your epilogue you'll be shown a results screen this gives you a low down on what you might have missed as well as how many suspects you had and your deduction, you can if you wish, see if you made the correct choice, but a good detective would never doubt their deeds right? Another nice feature sort of like the Walking Dead's results screen is that you are shown what choices others made, I could only wish that LA Noire featured a similar system, because much like Crimes and Punishments, it's a true kicker when you realise you've condemned the wrong person, but at least you could be safe in the knowledge that you weren't the only one to do so!
One thing that must be said for Crimes and Punishments is not only do you seem to get a much better feel that you are indeed embodying Sherlock Holmes, but the game also looks fantastic thanks to the Unreal 3 engine which is going to blow long time fans of the series away, not only does it look stunning, but the animations present look so much more human, and less robotic than previous games. This all gives Crimes and Punishments the allure of Heavy Rain, or indeed LA Noire, suddenly it doesn't feel like you're playing a game, but living a detective story that takes you into the world of Sherlock Holmes.
Suffice to say delving further into Crimes and Punishments revealed an absolutely stunning game that promises so much we can only hope that it truly hits the mark, what we've seen and played so far marks it as undoubtedly the most impressive representation of Sherlock Holmes in video game form!
Sherlock Holmes Crimes and Punishments is scheduled for a release during Q2 of 2014 for Windows PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Playstation 4, I cannot express just how long away that feels!