The Testament of Sherlock Holmes
|The Testament of Sherlock Holmes|
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes cover art
|Publisher(s)||Focus Home Interactive
|Series||Adventures of Sherlock Holmes|
|Release date(s)||EU 20 September 2012
NA 25 September 2012
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is an adventure video game in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series developed by Frogwares and published by Focus Home Interactive. After being delayed from an original 2010 release, the game was released in Europe on 20 September 2012 and in North America on 25 September 2012.
Trailers were shown at E3 2011, with further screenshots being released months later. More screenshots were also posted. The game was developed primarily for consoles, and features a new graphic engine and gameplay mechanics.
The game is based on the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, the protagonist of 56 short stories and 4 novels by Arthur Conan Doyle. Like many other games in the series, the game itself presents an original story and plot that is not based on any of Doyle's works. The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is set in the London of 1898, with Holmes presented as the main suspect in a case in which he is unable to prove his innocence.
In London, 1898, Holmes has just successfully solved a new case by retrieving a priceless set of jewels that had been stolen. Unfortunately, the jewels' owner reveals that the necklace Holmes returned to him is a pale imitation and everything seems to incriminate the detective. During the next sequences, Holmes tells Watson he has an immediate appointment with the Bishop of Knightsbridge. Upon arriving, he discovers that the bishop has been tied up, burnt and mutilated. A new character named Inspector Baynes also appears.
Investigating the bishop, Holmes learns his murderers are a group of poor workers from near a cemetery. He also finds that the murderers had a poison that caused a form of psychotic madness.
Investigating a compatible poisoning case, Holmes interviews Hans Scheilman, the Rat Killer, who describes the poisoner as using the initial murders as tests, as the poison is volatile and can not yet be stored for long periods. Realizing that Scheilman has an accomplice in the prison, Holmes engineers his escape using Scheilmans poison, similar to scopolomine, to allow Scheilman to escape and then wait for Holmes to come and collect him.
The player takes the role of Sherlock Holmes for the majority of the game, though there are also sections in which they control Dr. Watson and one where Toby, a basset hound, is controlled. The majority of the game involves exploring crime scenes and examining clues. An ability called 'sixth sense' is available, which will briefly highlight all the objects which can be interacted with in the player's field of view; this ability must then be allowed to recharge before it can be used again. Once discovered, clues are added to a 'deduction board', a gameplay mechanic which involves linking pieces of information and selection from a number of possible deductions. Once all clues are discovered and the correct deductions selected, the story progresses. There are also several puzzles which must be solved, most of which take the form of locked puzzle boxes.
Three camera views are available – a first person point of view, an over-the-shoulder camera and a static third person camera. The player is able to change between them at any time. The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is also the first game in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series to support the use of a gamepad. Dialogue and documents which have been discovered are stored for the player to review.
After the release of the ported Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper, Frogwares and French publisher Focus Home Interactive got feedback from console players in particular that they wanted more adventure games with 3D graphics and production values to match what other genres are offering. And Frogwares admitted to be eager in delivering one. Though Waël Amr, the CEO, insists this does not mean forgetting about PC players, as some already speculate. The development of the game took nearly three years to complete.
Waël Amr explains that in the past, the team has always been limited in reaching the PC market by trying to aim for a middle ground with PC owners, so that the specs have been lowered to match the greater share of the market. With this latest game that is being developed with the current generation of consoles in mind, the development team has finally been able to really focus on polishing the graphics and creating the adventure game they've always wanted to.
The previous game in the series, Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper, was ported to console, but was simply a conversion. Rather than being ported from a PC version of the title, the team are developing the new game specifically for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 for the first time.
Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper used drawings to depict its murder victims, hiding the full horror of the scenes out of respect for the real historical victims. Frogwares in the new title approaches on more mature and graphic moments. As the characters here are purely fictional, there is no restraint in showing the gory scene in its full glory.
With this, they first upgraded the graphics, and was first previewed in the screenshots. These images were released by Frogwares to every gaming websites, most notably GameSpot and IGN. The first of these were posted on February 2011, and more surfaces the following months. After the release of the first trailer and gameplay in E3 2011, Frogwares later releases 4 more trailers with gameplay footage, with one more still to be released. The fourth trailer was shown in E3 2012. Destructoid and AdventureGamers.com were the first to play the game's demo. These demos where later posted in GameSpot's Daily Demo, where two gameplay mission were posted in YouTube. Wael also presented the game in Gameswelt and GotGame.com, entertaining with interviews about gameplay mechanics and the team's development timeline.
These upgrades were said to be a part of a broader move to attract more console players. This does, however, coincide with a change in Frogwares approach to difficulty. Previously, insanely difficult puzzles were once considered a good thing, and success was measured in how long it took people to finish the game. As of what Waël observed about, they were carefully watching the internet, counting the days until people started posting complete solutions. They now admit this was a “stupid” approach, and are now putting a lot of emphasis on accessibility and not getting stuck in the same place for too long.
With the trailer shown in the E3 2011, Wael confirmed that the game will show Holmes' darker side where he now uses blackmail, forgery, and isolation in exile away from society. Saying that Holmes will now rely in his survival skills and street-smart paired in a cat-and-mouse style plot widely seen in other games such as Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction and Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy.
April 2011, developer Frogwares announced plans to release the game earlier. At the time the game was supposed to come out in the fall of 2011. A recent post on Frogwares' Facebook page has a confirmations from the developer admitting the game was due for release at the end of 2011. But again it has been pushed back for release in 2012. Frogwares officially revealed the release date of the game to be in 20 September 2012.
The game received mostly positive reviews. GameSpot awarded it 8.0 out of ten and said "Even with the minor issues with pixel hunts and puzzle overloading, this is an uncompromising, riveting adventure game". Game Informer awarded it 7.50 out of ten and said "True to his past exploits, Holmes' newest case provides an intriguing mystery to unravel, despite still falling for some common adventure game pitfalls".
The game was awarded "Best of the Rest" in the Honorary Aggie Award category by the website Adventure Gamers, saying that "the surprising story of Sherlock's apparent fall from grace was thoroughly engaging right from the start and kept the momentum up through well-crafted characters and plenty of twists and turns. Topped off with stunning visuals and an impressive orchestral soundtrack, this was Frogwares at their finest."
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Testament of Sherlock Holmes.|
- Official website
- The Testament of Sherlock Holmes Original Soundtrack at MusicBrainz (list of releases)