The series of games with the hero Sherlock Holmes has undergone many changes. From the use of real actors in The Case of the Rose Tattoo in 1996, to first-person adventures such as The Mystery of the Mummy in 2002. Sherlock Holmes The Awakened was released in 2007 and was the first of a series of supernatural elements inspired by the Cthulhu Mythology by Lovecraft. 16 years later, Ukrainian Frogwares is reviving The Awakened as a remake, using several features from the recent Sherlock Holmes Chapter One.
In Sherlock Holmes The Awakened, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson embark on their first adventure as a dynamic Baker Street duo. Unlike the first chapter, where Watson was replaced by Sherlock’s witty imaginary friend Jon, here we see the start of the two men’s relationship and the different approaches they take. Watson says a few words about his past and the war he lived through as a surgeon in Afghanistan, though those moments are rare in the game. On the other hand, Sherlock, not always finding a logical explanation in mysterious circumstances, seems to reach the limits of madness and hallucinations. The story takes place after the events that took place on the island of Cordona, with scattered references to these from time to time, pleasantly “tying together” the past with the present. With some pretty grim cases and brutal unexplained murders, the game combines Sherlock’s detective story with Lovecraftian cosmic horror, or at least a few touches of it. Although there is a complex story behind each investigation, the game is far from a thriller, and certainly the scenes with Sherlock’s hallucinations are anything but scary.
The game offers three difficulty levels, none of which is considered “easy”. Young Detective is the default and recommended difficulty for the first game if you are looking for a balanced experience. This setting shows hotspots for interaction, clues on when it’s a good idea to connect things together by creating synapses in the mind palace, you are told when it has collected all persuasions necessary, and you have the possibility to – easily and logically – lock the unlocking mini-games. Like harder, the Deduction Difficulty Master offers none of that, often leads to pixel hunting, and isn’t that recommended for new players. The third and final mycroft option gives you the ability to customize the experience by creating your own difficulty. Regarding the trophies, they are not affected by any difficulty.
The manipulation follows previous games in the series, like third-person point-and-click. You explore environments looking for points of interest, spot details that make a difference and talk to people who might lie to you. By noticing the clothes other people are wearing, the marks or scratches on them, and even their outfit, you learn information about their personalities and daily lives that you then use to your advantage. Crime scenes consist not only of clues to collect, but also of key points for reconstructions. First you locate them all in space using Sherlock’s ability to focus, then you choose the most likely version of events. Once you understand them, you see a short scene of what happened. In most cases, the stages and performances are interesting, as long as you have no trouble finding these spots, since sometimes they are located in rooms of houses or warehouses, and sometimes in outdoor spaces.
Another part of the manipulation is to “pin” items and then combine them in the world like in chapter one (much like the classic combination of objects with the environment, but with information). Pinning generally makes sense, rewarding patient players and enriching gameplay beyond literal point-and-click manipulation. However, often you don’t know what to pin and combine with the environment, which is a bigger problem for mastering the difficulty of deduction. If we add to this the elements that you then combine in the spirit palace, it results in a number of time-consuming parts that look like “puddles” in the development of the story, somehow delaying its smooth running . Repair a doll by finding all the necessary materials, neutralize a guard without resorting to violence or search the archives to find what type of animal left bloody footprints. Sometimes, again, you play as Dr. Watson, completing simple missions like finding keys for Sherlock or pretending to be someone else. Disguise doesn’t play as big of a role in this game as it did in previous games in the series, but changing clothes and accessories remains.
A change from Chapter One is the return of gameplay closer to “track” style and chapters rather than open world. Sure, each chapter consists of a fair amount of explorable locations that vary both architecturally and in color, but the step that had been taken to develop the game into something more than a point-and-click adventure is canceled here. This may be due either to the difficulties the creators encountered while developing the game due to the war in Ukraine, or to the fact that they preferred to go back to the classic style that most adventure players prefer. However, the return to conservative adventure management somewhat detracts from the natural progression of the series, even if the end result is an excellent point-and-click adventure. On the other hand, the absence of useless and awkward fights of Chapter One is more than welcome and we hope that this will not change in a future title.
In the lively game world, passers-by react if you meet them, have their own business and are ready to chat with you. The map doesn’t always help with navigating through each chapter, as it doesn’t have a compass, so you might get lost for a while if you’re generally having trouble getting your bearings. Also, the notification that you can’t return to a place after you leave reminds you of your confinement in space, unlike if the game was an open world. However, perhaps the biggest weakness of the game is that you sometimes don’t know what to do next, because there is no to-do list. For example, if you don’t play the game for days, it’s possible to forget where you left off.
The decent, realistic graphics are an evolution of Chapter One and are clearly superior to the original 2007 title. alienated, the atmosphere is worthy of the circumstances. Strange symbols engraved on tables, overturned chairs and discarded clothes hide a story. The characters are designed in detail, though they lack expressions and lip-sync. Some characters don’t blink, while Sherlock and Watson sometimes look poorly designed compared to the others. While the animation is okay overall, you can occasionally see Sherlock scrambling around in random places like a corner of a table or a box. Other times, again, the camera and Watson himself make it hard to see and find hot spots, which can be fixed with a little movement. Finally, the doors open relatively abruptly and awkwardly as soon as you approach them, which is not expected of a game of this era.
The game’s rich soundtrack pleasantly enriches the atmosphere. Sometimes agonizing and sometimes simply orchestral, the music never repeats itself, it is distinguished by region without suddenly disappearing. The sound effects vary in the same contexts, with sounds of heavy rain, cars, lonely cats meowing in rainy London, newsagents, raindrops hitting the roof and clock hands to name but a few. some examples. As for the actors, they did a great job of bringing the characters to life with their voices.
With a duration of more than 10 hours – especially on a high difficulty level – Sherlock Holmes The Awakened is a successful remake. Dr. Watson finally returns after his absence in the first chapter, much like the older, more limited style of investigation as opposed to the open world we saw in the previous game. It might be slightly disappointing if you’re looking for another chapter one, but if you’re a fan of classic adventure games, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief.
- Redo with improvements
- Variety in types of puzzles
- There Are No Chapter One Battles
- Absence of clues and objectives
- Sometimes you don’t know what to do
- facial expressions
- It doesn’t build on the positives of chapter one
|PLATFORM:||PS5Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC|