Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments Review
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments
Genre(s): Mystery, Puzzle, Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 03/02/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
I am a big fan of Sherlock Holmes. I’ve not read anywhere near enough of his stories. However, a good friend of mine is the author of a fantastic series of Holmes novellas, which I have devoured with gusto. When the opportunity to review Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments came along, I was all too eager to grab my hunting cap and pipe and dive into his caseload.
How was my journey to Baker Street? All the clues point towards it being a fun experience, but nothing is ever that elementary … or is it? Keep reading this rapid review to find out.
It’s Elementary, My Dear Reader
The concept of the game is remarkably straightforward. You play Sherlock Holmes and must use your amazing powers of observation, reasoning, and deduction to solve a series of crimes. In total, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments has six cases for you to tackle.
As you play the game, you talk to witnesses, inspect crime scenes and liaise with your famous companions, including Dr. Watson, Inspector Lestrade, Mycroft Holmes, and your faithful hound, Toby.
My first complaint here is that the game is very linear. You have no real choice in where you go. While each case has up to eight different endings, the only scope is when it comes to how you interpret the clues you find. If I had been given more freedom to roam and find clues in different orders, it would have altered my experience for the better. The world had lots of room for exploration. One thing I would have liked to have seen in the game was some sort of collectible or anything unrelated to the storyline itself, but some other lore, even if just tidbits of Holmes’s history. The works are all public domain now, so there was plenty of scope.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments offers an interesting mix of caseloads. Some have been created for the game, while others draw on the classic tales from Conan-Doyle. While the premise for each is the same, they all managed to feel fresh and bring something different in the way of locations and NPC characters.
I also enjoyed the UI design for the casebook. Collecting evidence, expanding the map, and profiling characters. I also really liked the way they tied the previous cases together by showing you a key souvenir from each completed case.
Rather than being one game, this game has multiple short games in an anthology. Each case is individual can work from previous cases does not carry over. The only connections are the souvenirs collected in your casebook and your morality rating, which we will discuss a little bit further on in this review.
Fun User Engagement
I enjoyed the way Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments played. For a budget title, I thought the graphics were acceptable, and I thought they did a good job of capturing the characters. Holmes, with his slightly pompous and arrogant ways. Watson, as the sometimes-pessimistic voice of reason, and Lestrade, the jealous and somewhat frustrated inspector.
The movement in the game was not without its hiccups. Character control was largely smooth. However, there were quite some instances of frame rate drops and jittery animations. They were especially prevalent when I was running or moving in and out of doors too quickly.
The game also has plenty of achievements for people to chase down. They are not immediately visible, but there are some fun ones, including having a different interaction with Toby, the dog, in each of the six cases.
Mini-Games Kept Things Interesting
Throughout the game, there are minigames that you need to beat at key moments. There is an option to skip them. However, I feel that would rob the player of half the experience. In addition, there is an achievement for solving all of them without skipping.
The mini-games were varied and always fun. From lock-picking to arm wrestling, shooting the game devs made sure they kept things interesting.
The inclusion of QTEs and quick trigger finger responses – throwing punches in a fight – were also fun additions that made sure you paid attention to what was going on. Especially as a lot of the game was rather slow-paced and more deductive than action based.
Exercise Your Powers of Deduction
As I mentioned at the start, there are multiple possible endings to each case, and they all depend on the different deductions you make when sorting through the clues you have found. While this is not a revolutionary mechanic, it was one made for a Sherlock Holmes game.
I really like the way you could make your deductions and then start joining them together with your own logic. This is where the diverging story resolutions form. There is, of course, one correct solution, but this is only known once you have submitted your evidence.
At the end of every case, you must make a choice. This choice ends with your final decision. As the game progresses, your accuracy and the motivations that the game deduces lie behind your assumptions combine to give you an overarching morality level.
For all but one case, I found all of the clues and so I am not sure what the threshold is for being able to close a case. I got the ‘true’ result for all of them but was tempted to make a few strange choices just to see what would happen. However, because of the mortality level, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Round and Round and Round We Go
My main complaint about the game would be the sheer amount of time that is wasted watching the travel animation. The map for each quest revealed itself in response to the clues found. However, there was a lot of traveling back and for from one location to another. While this makes sense, I didn’t like how long the load times would be.
It grew tiresome watching Sherlock Holmes sitting in a carriage. This was especially irksome when all I needed to do was to have a quick chat with an NPC or collect one item before having to travel away again.
Truth be told, it is a minor irritation but one that needs to be aired.
Final Thoughts on Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments
I enjoyed my time playing Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments. The cases were interesting, and piecing together the clues was straightforward. A nice laidback game for a calm gaming experience, which I like. I don’t need every game to be a thrilling, action-packed blockbuster.
There was enough to like in the game; however, ultimately, it is a one-and-done kind of title that I don’t think will have any true longevity.
Rapid Reviews Rating
2.5 out of 5
You can buy your copy of Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments from the Nintendo eShop today.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.