Sherlock Holmes - The Awakened Review (PC)

Frogware revisits a quaint English time period ripe for cunning fictitious detectives, who couldn’t love the “‘ello, ‘ello, ‘ello; what’s all this, then?” of the 1800’s?

The adventure genre is certainly getting on with the times now with realistically very little to be adding something spicy in the mix. Of course a title pivots centrally on its plotline because, well, if the story stinks why bother solving that dastardly murder or who pinched the grand piano last winter. Sherlock Holmes is a world renowned name and has spawned a whole manner of mediums to reach its fans; this is the third Frogware bid to deliver their flavour of a timed classic.

Baker Street Moderately beautiful

This isn’t some standard point and click adventure, though they’ll definitely be some pointing and clicking for the record, you’re not going to be stuck in 2D backgrounds feeling like the fly on the wall. Instead you’ll be plunged into a FPS-like 3D engine for all your detective work; it already adds a whole new volume to the game and helps provide better challenges ahead. Watching a 2D background can make all suspense or thrill of finding clues a little weak, but having to eye everything in a full 360 degree environment is a better immersion.

The game starts with Dr. Watson blabbing away at Holmes who’s more content with pondering when his next great case is going come around the corner. Soon enough the disappearance of an immigrant worker catches events and it’s off to work, with pipe naturally in hand. A slight warning is that you do need to actively pay attention to turn of events; you can always consult the journal which updates itself as you go along. The reason for this is because crafty Frogware launch text-based quizzes after each ‘main event’, and should you get it wrong you’ll need to try again.

Easily to use Journal, this will record almost anything It’s a map it is Govn’r

The puzzles themselves ingame range typically from easy to somewhat hard at points. Your grey matter (that’s the pink squishy think hopefully between your ears: the brain) will be getting a workout as clues on where to go next do require some logic. Luck though it seems plays a role as you can find yourself experiencing ‘detective-block’ and are left wondering around without the slightest idea on what to do next. This is a troubling flaw in The Awakened, challenging but equally despairing.

The controls are very easy to pick up; they are a standard WASD format typical to most 3D action games for the PC. The mouse buttons are naturally invaluable, a quick right click lets you have access to anything you need. There aren’t many key controls so you shouldn’t have trouble remember them at all.

At times you also change whose shoes you fill by swapping places with Dr. Watson, this only occurs at certain parts of the game and cannot be instigated freely. Good news, the voice-overs aren’t bad and won’t make you cringe as some adventure titles notoriously pull off, but that’s being a little unfair as all genres have their audio ‘bad apples’. Yes the sounds aren’t amazing to blow gamers minds away for sure, but they sit comfortably well for the purposes of a great detective. The same can be said for the graphics, while it’s a full 3D adventure with a surprisingly good FPS feel, you’re not going to be blown into the streets of 19th century London anytime soon. Still the effort is well noted and a certain degree of visual charm is achieved.

Undercover agent of evil, or paper boy? Mutton chops, now there’s a crime

You’ll pick Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened up only if you’re into the adventure genre. While the game does deliver a nice bundle of challenges and like a larger number of other adventure titles now it comes with a FPS feel, you could still do better if you looked hard enough. Frogwares efforts are comfortable and they’ve done a substantial job of injecting some excitement, even though it’s clouded by some troubles along the way. It’s a nice ride; if you don’t expect to be blown away.

Top Game Moment:
I wasn’t captivated enough to think, “now that’s tops!”