Review: Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is a third-person and first-person detective adventure game available from retail stores and for download from the European PlayStation Store for the PS4. The game is based upon the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes who was created by the Scottish author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with the character evolving in his status ever since the original novel A Study in Scarlet was published in 1887 and The Sign of the Four in 1890 with serialisations and short stories following until the second set of stories came to a climax in 1927. Since the original incarnation of Sherlock Holmes there have been numerous theatre productions, television, film, and videogames adaptations. The earliest known Sherlock Holmes videogame is Sherlock for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum in 1984, while Sherlock Holmes: The Kidnapping of the Earl’s Daughter was released on December 11th 1986 exclusively in Japan for the NES or (Famicom as it was referred to in Japan) with two sequels also releasing exclusively for the NES in Japan. The three volumes of Consulting Detective were released from 1991 through 1993 and were so well loved that a Kickstarter campaign was created in March 2012 in an attempt to raise enough funds to remaster them. Although they were unsuccessful due to only receiving one third of the proposed $55,000 investment, another notable retro release was The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes from 1994 on 3DO. The developer Frogwares is responsible for around half of the Sherlock Holmes games ever created under what is called the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series comprising most recently of The Testament of Sherlock Holmes on PS3 in 2012 followed by Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments on PS4 and PS3 in 2014. But can their latest effort, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter, stand out from the crowd even more than the exceptional Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments?
The story is set in London, providing the same interpretation of 221b Baker Street and taking place immediately after Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments with Sherlock Holmes continuing his investigations with the help of Doctor John Watson over a period of six cases of varying criminal activity. As the story unfolds, Sherlock finds intriguing mysteries that even revolve around his own daughter. The game starts out in quite a stark contrast to the previous game with an immediate pressing case for Sherlock Holmes to investigate with urgency as a poor 8 year-old boy reports that his father has been missing for three weeks after beginning a special job to bring income to provide for his son in a time of otherwise very limited opportunities. Sherlock Holmes shows some of his true class by re-assuring the worried young boy, telling him that he will immediately begin his investigations for no expense to the boy who has no money to pay him, therefore showing how much he genuinely cares for people’s wellbeing over money.
As was the case with Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, there are six cases to solve as Sherlock Holmes is called upon to investigate various crimes and murders that have been committed. With the unique ability to approach each case from different angles and perspectives by pairing two of the clues found during your thorough investigation together to form an idea of how to progress forwards with the case, you are provided with the freedom to crack the case however you would prefer to do so. There are multiple endings for each case with between three and seven different outcomes depending upon the amount of characters involved with each case. This means that there is room for you to accuse the wrong person and imprison someone who is innocent, resulting in you having to be very precise and thorough with your investigations, although you have to find the clues in order to make a deduction before being able to accuse any of the potential criminals which really integrates an element of morality in regards to whether you absolve or condemn the correct suspects and any potential accomplices.
Mini-games are part of solving investigations such as maintaining the positioning of the left and right analogue sticks within an ever decreasing circular window in order for Sherlock Holmes to be able to listen into conversations at a bar or even enabling Sherlock’s friend Wiggins to balance as he walks on wooden planks and rooftops. In addition, thee mini-games include Sherlock’s dog Toby sniffing out the traces of oil to find the whereabouts of a rifle; lock-picking a door to find new clues; and even lawn bowling; amongst many more unexpected activities that all forms the progression of the investigational work.
A valuable asset in solving crimes is Sherlock’s archives which allow you to search through various categories of encyclopedias, research materials and newspapers to gain historical data on an item or person related to a case, such as searching for the significance of an emblem through an extensive archive of newspapers.
Sherlock is capable of building character portraits by analysing the possessions they are holding or wearing, personality traits, health and physical attributes during an interview, and more. The details are logged in Holmes’ casebook which is effectively a journal covering every crime and suspect. The casebook is an excellent design choice as it can be referred to at any given moment and is therefore ideal for attempting to match multiple threads of the case together as evidence. Dialogues and character portraits are all stored within the casebook for future reference alongside a list of tasks, maps showing areas of interest, documents and echoes that collectively form a body of evidence which could all lead to solving the crime.
Character customisation plays a big part in getting into the mind and closer to the prime suspect as Sherlock dons various costumes and disguises with a total of nine outfits including a morning gown, sportswear, casual suit, overcoat, sailor outfit and more besides. In addition, there are sixteen hair and hat combinations, a pair of glasses, and twelve distinct types of facial hair which is an excellent design choice as it allows the player to have even more freedom with plenty of customisation pairings as well as following in the footsteps of using disguises to solve crimes as Sherlock Holmes would regularly do so in his stories.
The character design remains outstanding with the two lead characters having noticeably changed since the previous game. Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson have had their character models effectively re-designed for a younger look without affecting the chemistry of Sherlock Holmes making for a fascinating lead character and Doctor John Watson being a superb sidekick assisting in anyway he can during his attempts to keep Holmes sane. There are a wide cast of characters that assist and communicate with Holmes in different aspects such as Inspector Lestrade and plenty of police constables in their full uniforms situated at Scotland Yard. Beyond Doctor John Watson and Inspector Lestrade, there are more people that Holmes will ask for help such as young uneducated beggars with Wiggins having the main source of information as he keeps watch and a firm ear to the ground for which Holmes pays a reward for his services in research and information. There are a variety of people that range from criminals and accomplices to innocent civilians that have been misunderstood or in the wrong place at the wrong time, while the victims wear their emotion and sorrow on their faces.
The environment design is as good as the character design as the locations are realistic of London in the late 1800s, although some environments look identical to the previous game with such famous landmarks as Scotland Yard and Baker Street as well as the Old Tavern in which Sherlock Holmes had to previously have that infuriating arm wrestling match, while the surroundings of a crime scene have a gruesome atmosphere and edge about them that is not easy to create when considering that they have to be far more foreboding than Sherlock’s home or other neutral locations.
The game starts out in a third-person perspective, although at any given moment you can change from a third-person to a first-person perspective with a single press of a button, which is not exactly a regular feature for any genre, so it is pleasantly surprising and quite ambitious as the third-person and first-person camera angles are both implemented to precision, therefore allowing a closer perspective during your search for clues. It is an excellent design choice to implement both perspectives as there is no question that it will expand the audience of the gamers who would play the game as there are similar quotas who prefer their adventures to be in third-person or first-person, so it is great to see that divide being removed and hopefully virtual reality components can be patched into the game at a later time for the first-person perspective when Sony release their PlayStation VR virtual reality headset.
The performance during remote play is amazing as the graphics, audio and general performance is identical to that of its PS4 counterpart with the exception of three changes to the controls of switching characters and running. The DualShock 4’s touch pad is replicated on the Vita’s touch screen in the functions of Sherlock’s imagination and talent, although they would have perhaps been better suited to the bottom left and right of the touch screen. The rest of the controls remain exactly the same as the PS4 version, therefore resulting in a remote play experience that will satisfy players until a Sherlock Holmes game would hopefully be released for Vita.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the control scheme consisting of pressing X to perform actions; pressing square to open the casebook; pressing triangle to open deduction space; pressing O to switch between first-person and third-person perspectives; pressing L1 to launch imagination; pressing R1 to launch Sherlock talent; pressing L2 to switch characters; holding R2 to run; pressing any of the d-pad buttons to select an action; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to move the character; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to move the camera; pressing L3 and R3 simultaneously for help; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. The touch pad implementation provides an alternative to L1 and R1 as swiping to the right will engage Sherlock’s imagination and swiping to the left will use Sherlock’s talent, while the DualShock 4 controller vibrates occasionally such as during some of the mini-games. There is no light bar implementation which is surprising as it could have turned green to show a correct deduction of two clues and red for an incorrect deduction of two clues.
As a detective game will see crimes and murders committed, conveying emotion should always be a major factor of the graphical performance and this game excels just as much in this area in comparison to Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments with a wide range of emotions from confusion of why someone has went missing to sorrow of loss and every emotion in between. London is portrayed quite accurately from what you would anticipate to see in the late 1800s from horses and carriages to the relevant architecture and decor, while the lighting, shadows and smoke effects as Holmes puffs his pipe are also excellent. The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, cases menu, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and touch pad. The background of the menu screens revolves around a rather run down room that has broken blinds, holes in curtains, dusty windows with children’s handprints appearing within them and a framed artistic portrait of a stern looking man, while a stylish title logo is situated in the very centre of your perspective of an incredibly atmospheric room which most certainly sets the appropriate tone for the game.
The audio consists of voice-overs, sound effects and music. The ambiance of the surrounding world is quite interesting as you can hear the crackling of the fireplace, people talking from outside, bells and chimes sounding and horses with carriages being used for transportation in the streets nearby Sherlock’s home, while there are also general sound effects such as walking, running and opening doors. An arrangement of atmospheric classical orchestral music with a foreboding nature appropriately sets the scene of the crime that has taken place and the punishment awaiting those who have committed such atrocities. The lack of DualShock 4 speaker implementation is surprising as it could have produced the voice-overs from the cast of characters or perhaps even Sherlock’s personal deductions of the investigation with alternative possibilities being the ambient sound effects and atmospheric music. The voice-over actors produce exceptional performances to bring the appropriate emotional depth to their characters from dark humour to inquisitiveness to insanity and distress given each character’s scenario in that given moment. Alex Jordan has replaced Kerry Shale as the voice of Sherlock Holmes with Alex Jordan having previously voiced Asher Forrester in Telltale’s Game of Thrones, Anton Schieldhand in The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 and King Gwydion and Leisurely Guards in Shadwen. Andrew Wincott replaces Nick Brimble as Dr. Watson having previously voiced characters in Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars, Dead Nation, Divinity: Original Sin, The Witcher and more besides.
The supporting cast includes Ashley Margolis voicing Wiggins having previously voiced Timmy Mouskovitz in The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 and starred in over 100 episodes of the television series Hollyoaks; Charlotte Moore voices Alice having previously voiced Razniak in Driver: San Francisco and Rosabel in Trine 2; Chris Ragland voicing Orson Wilde having previously voiced characters in Driver: San Francisco and Homefront: The Revolution; Colin Mace voiced Fleisher having previously voiced Sergeant Moue in Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse; Dan Mersh voices George Hurst having previously voiced the male El Presidente in Tropico 5 and Wizard #1 in Trine 3: The Artefacts of Power; Emma Tate voicing Tom having previously voiced Nico Collard, Maria de Santos, a young Tiago Marques and Sofia in Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse and female protagonist #3 in Bloodborne; Harry Myers voices Inspector Lestrade having previously guest-starred in television series such as The Bill and Midsomer Murders as well as short films including The Bank Job, The Long Lonely Walk, For George and Gnomeland; Kevin Howarth voicing Sir Charles having previously voiced Georgie Porgie in Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us and Amadeus in the Trine trilogy; Martha Mackintosh voices Mary having previously voiced Mira Forrester in Telltale’s Game of Thrones and Company Captain Yorshka in Dark Souls III; Rachel Atkins voicing Mrs. Hudson having previously voiced Fleur and the Countess de Vasconcelles in Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars, Cassia in Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, Queen Lowlah in Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, Ezma Potts in Puppeteer and Fleur in Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse; Rachel Louise Miller voices Kate having previously voiced characters in Eyepet and Disney Universe; Rob Rackstraw voicing Ashley Cole having previously voiced Adam, Hector Laine and Shears in Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse and Garibald Tarwick, Meeren Slave and Crow in Telltale’s Game of Thrones; Sam Taldeker voices a passer-by having previously voiced various characters in Jericho, The Witcher and Timesplitters 2; and Steve Furst voicing Moriarty having previously voiced characters in The Night of the Rabbit and Risen 3: Titan Lords.
The trophy list includes 25 trophies with 6 bronze trophies, 12 silver trophies, 6 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Seven of the trophies are related to the story of the cases, so as long as you crack all of the cases, then there are a guaranteed one silver trophy and six gold trophies. However, there are a lot of trophies that are related to each case, but are missable due to having to complete certain events that occur during your investigation. Success is not an absolute certainty resulting in a 50/50 probability of earning a lot of trophies through the first playthrough or narrowly missing out on them and needing to try again during a second playthrough, especially if any mini-games are skipped. The hardest trophy has to be the Lawn Bowls Champion bronze trophy for winning a Lawn Bowls tournament as it is the trophy you are most likely to not earn on your first attempt as it is difficult to position your red balls nearest to the white starter ball. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 15 hours to platinum the trophy list.
Unlike the previous game, there are now actually two difficulty levels including keen detective and master sleuth with a number of major differences including the ability to skip mini-games you are having problems completing. There will be no hints during quick time events within dialogue in master sleuth. The ability to check if your conclusion is correct at the end of each case is available during keen detective but is not allowed in master sleuth. There are further factors for the difficulty curve as it is partly decided by how easy you get to grips with your investigation of the crime in regards to how quickly you are capable of seeking out the clues and drawing what you need to from them, while the difficulty curve is increased further by the possibility you may absolve a criminal or condemn an innocent person if you are not completely accurate with the deductions made from the clues you have found throughout your investigation of the crime.
There is no local or online multiplayer, although it would have provided an amazing step-up in gameplay to have a drop-in/drop-out local and online co-operative multiplayer aspect of the single player story cases with one player controlling Sherlock Holmes and another player as Doctor Watson or another friend such as Wiggins helping each other to make sense of the clues and solve the case together. While certain areas that are not suited to co-operative multiplayer, such as when Wiggins is following a mysterious man, the game could become a form of competitive multiplayer with one player controlling Wiggins as he attempts to follow the man without being seen and the second player could be controlling the mysterious man who is trying to make sure he is not followed to an important location. There are also no online leaderboards, although they would have added an extra element of competitiveness such as how quickly each player could crack the case and just how many clues each player was able to find along the way.
The replayability is produced from the main aspect of the game, as each case has a fair length to it with plenty of puzzles, mini-games and clues to find during your investigations and twists and turns throughout the story of every case, while each case also has multiple endings to encourage revisiting the same cases to find every possible outcome with dozens of possible deductions through the six cases.
Overall, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is even better than Frogwares’ previous attempts at creating an accurate representation of the character and sleuthing of Sherlock Holmes, therefore elevating it to being the best videogame adaptation of the character and story thus far. If you are a fan of the character and stories of Sherlock Holmes or even if you are looking for a great detective game, then Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter will absolutely appeal to your tastes making it a recommendable purchase.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- Character redesign.
- Mini-games and puzzles break up gameplay.
- Different difficulties.
- Stellar sound design.
What I Dislike:
- Lawn Bowl tournament.