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Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper PC Review - -

Gameplay 5.5
Graphics 7.0
Sound 6.5
Value 6.5
Developer: QVS
Review Date:
May 209
Jamie Kirk


Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper

Mario and the Princess, Tidus and Yuna and Link and Zelda are some of video gamesí greatest couples. Independent developers Frogwares are now adding one more couple to the mix, behold Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson... wait what? Yes Holmes and Watson, stars of Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper are the newest power couple to challenge for the throne. This is the fifth entry in the Sherlock Holmes series and the developers have crafted an enduring romance between two men in 19th century London. If you appreciate homoerotic undertones some of the dialogue between Holmes and Watson will have you analysing their relationship more than an internet fan fiction writer.

Itís actually supposed to be about the famed detective and his sidekick investigating a series of gruesome murders in the district of Whitechapel. The local police can barely dress themselves, let alone solve the case, so it is up to our intrepid couple (ahem) to solve the case. This takes them through the streets of London where they meet a cast of shady characters and solve puzzles to bring them closer to the suspect.

The game offers two perspectives, third of first person. Graphically speaking the third person looks nicer as it is more zoomed out, thus hiding some of the rougher edges of the graphics. Thatís no0t to say they are terrible in the first person though, as overall the game is quite nice to look at. It wonít have you falling off your seat in wonder, but it does a decent job conveying dreary turn of the century London. The two perspectives donít really make a difference to the game play either, apart from the fact that one is an absolute bastard to control and the other is significantly easier. The third person view is the former. Controlling Holmes is kind of like a traditional point and click except extremely annoying. The mouse button must be held down to make Holmes walk forward instead of just clicking on a destination. As such Holmes will often walk around in circles or go places where you donít want him to go. In addition to being cumbersome it is also quite slow, which is why it is a relief to play in first person perspective. From here you can just use the traditional wsad keys for movement which is a lot easier and makes you wonder why they didnít just use this control scheme for both perspectives.

The game play is rather straightforward, and will not have you scratching your head as to what you are supposed to be doing. Most of the time Holmes or Watson will state the objective and if you are going the wrong way they will stop you and tell you. If you canít quite find what you are looking for you can press the space bar and everything that can be interacted with shows up on the screen. This is helpful as it means you arenít constantly backtracking or using every item in your inventory on every object just to try and progress things. Also most of the spots you need to go to are put on your handy map, so if you are incredibly lazy you donít even need to walk to places. A simple click will take you right where you need to go.

The dialogue works in a similarly straightforward way. There are no huge branching conversation arcs with unnecessary information. No, Sherlock Holmes keeps it simple, and will only present itself with the questions that need to be asked. Once exhausted all you have to do is take your leave. On one hand this is a good thing, as you donít need to spend ages messing around with reams of dialogue. On the other hand it makes the talking feel a bit simple and uninvolving. At least all your important conversations are saved into your inventory so if you forget a detail you donít need to backtrack and ask again. It is also easy to tell who is important to talk to, as when clicked on the screen will fade into a conversation section. The ones who arenít will simply brush you off with unintentionally hilarious one liners. Most of them are terrible old time English stereotypes, made even funnier by some of the atrocious voice acting. Some of it is decent enough, Holmes and Watson arenít terrible to listen to, yet some of the NPCís are god awful. Iím not sure if itís the writing, the acting or a combination of the two but some of it is puzzling, some of it amusing and some of it just plain bad. One such example is the bartender who acts nice enough to you during conversation until you say goodbye, which is when he kind of shouts at you for no reason. It is jarring and sometimes takes away from the game.

Puzzles once again follow the theme of being straightforward. Most of the puzzles are confined to one room and Holmes will stop you from leaving until it is completed. This helps the player from getting too confused. There is also a nice variation of puzzles, as many of them stem from side quests used to gather information.  The most interesting puzzles are the ones where Holmes and Watson must piece together facts from the murder. These involve searching the crime scene, and then making your deductions and conclusions. The deductions are put on a static screen where Holmes must arrange the facts and then select from multiple choice solutions to form conclusions. These puzzles are the most fun as they are engaging and logical, never requiring ridiculous combinations of things to form a makeshift solution.

That being said there are a number of mind bogglingly frustrating puzzles. These mostly come from the side quests which can involve any manner of things. These range from the incredibly simple ďgo get this and bring it to meĒ to the ďclaw your eyes out and get some fresh airĒ. Some come with an inbuilt help screen that does very little to assist.

Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper is not without its shortcomings. Some of the puzzles make you want to hurt people, some of the acting and writing is laughably bad, and its poor 3rd person controls are incredibly annoying. However it partially makes up for this with a decent story and interesting murder solving puzzles. The game is an interesting one, but one that I canít fully recommend due to its niggling flaws. However this is one of a number of the games in the series so they must be doing something right. Although they also made multiple Big Mommaís Houses, so volume doesnít always equal quality. Frogwares have made a half decent game that could be a hell of a lot better. Hopefully the next adventures can clear up a few of these issues.



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