Sherlock Holmes (video game series)
Sherlock Holmes series logo used since mid-2007
|First release||Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Mummy|
29 December 2002
|Latest release||Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter|
10 June 2016
Sherlock Holmes is a series of adventure games developed by Frogwares. The games are based on Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. John H. Watson. While the franchise is based on Doyle's stories, each game has an original plot and storyline.
Each game in the series lets the player control Holmes or Dr. Watson from either a first-person or third-person perspective. This adventure game series mainly consists of puzzles to solve during the course of the game, both by the use of Holmes' abductive reasoning and Watson's assistance. It also requires gamers to find clues and evidence hidden in the environment. Holmes must take this information back to his labs, both in his flat at 221 B Baker St. and elsewhere. Clues are examined under a microscope or combined with solvents to separate pertinent elements.
The chief objective of the games is to solve the main mystery in the story, but the games also involve side investigations not central to the plot. The series takes Holmes all over the world, including to New Orleans, Switzerland, and Scotland.
|2002||The Mystery of the Mummy|
|2004||The Case of the Silver Earring|
|Sherlock Holmes Versus Arsène Lupin|
|2009||Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper|
|2012||The Testament of Sherlock Holmes|
|2014||Crimes & Punishments|
|2016||The Devil's Daughter|
|2021||Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One|
The Mystery of the Mummy
Originally developed for Microsoft Windows, the series first began in September 2002 with Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Mummy. The debut is in the first-person perspective and follows Sherlock Holmes' investigation of a British archaeologist's mansion. The game was resurrected and expanded for the Nintendo DS allowing puzzles to be solved with the stylus and touchscreen.
The Case of the Silver Earring
The second game in the series, Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Silver Earring, followed in October 2004, and introduced the third-person perspective. In it, Holmes and Watson investigate the murder of a construction tycoon, Sir Melvyn Bromsby; with his daughter, Lavinia, among the suspects.
The third game in the series, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, was released on 24 November 2006. It is the first game to feature first-person perspective in real-time 3D. The game follows an original plotline as Holmes and Dr. Watson investigate a series of strange disappearances related to the Cthulhu Mythos. Among the more positive reviews for the game, GameSpot gave it a rating of 8.3 out of 10, praising the storyline and stating that it was told "brilliantly", calling it a "Cthulhu-infused Victoriana". A remastered version was released in 2008 offering a third-person perspective in addition to the first-person perspective. This game won GameSpot's Best Use of a License Award.
Sherlock Holmes Versus Arsène Lupin
The fourth game in the series, Sherlock Holmes Versus Arsène Lupin (also known as Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis), was released in the third quarter of 2007. The game's antagonist is Arsène Lupin, a fictional gentleman thief created by French writer Maurice Leblanc. It begins at Holmes' residence at 221B Baker Street in London, where Holmes and Dr. Watson find a letter from Lupin. The thief states in the letter he will steal five items of great value to England.
Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper
In late 2008, a fifth installment was announced; Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper was released in March 2009 and had Sherlock Holmes against the infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper. This is the first game in the series to be released on console, specifically Xbox 360. The game consists of poems, puzzles and tasks that take Holmes from one clue to the next.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes
In September 2009, there were rumors of the release of the sixth installment, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes. The game was explicitly for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but later was released for the PC. 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.
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. It was developed primarily for consoles, and features a new graphic engine and gameplay mechanics.
Crimes & Punishments
The Devil's Daughter
On 8 May 2015, an eighth installment in the series was announced. It was scheduled to be released on 27 May 2016. However it was the first game since 2007 not to be published by Focus Home Interactive; instead it was published by Bigben Interactive. No reasons were given for the change of publisher. It was released on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
Kerry Shale was originally expected to reprise his role as Sherlock. However, it was later confirmed by Frogwares, that the game would focus on a different incarnation of Sherlock Holmes and would feature a new actor in the role.
Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One was announced by Frogwares on May 25, 2020, the game is scheduled for release in 2021 for PC, Xbox One, PS4 as well as "next gen consoles". The game will be set as an origin story with Sherlock Holmes being aged twenty-one. It will be the first game in the series self-published by Frogwares and will mechanically take heavy inspiration from their previous title The Sinking City.
|PC||XB360||XBox One||XBox Series X||PS3||PS4||PS5||DS||Wii||3DS|
|The Mystery of the Mummy||2002||8th||•||•||Adventure, First-person|
|The Case of the Silver Earring||2004||6th||•||•||Adventure Third-person|
|The Awakened||2007||3rd||•||Adventure First-person in real-time 3D, Third-person and first-person for remastered version|
|Sherlock Holmes versus Arsène Lupin||2007||5th||•||Adventure|
|Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper||2009||2nd||•||•||Adventure|
|The Testament of Sherlock Holmes||2012||7th||•||•||•||Adventure|
|Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments||2014||4th||•||•||•||•||•||Adventure|
|Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter||2016||9th||•||•||•||Adventure|
|Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One||2021||1st||•||•||•||•||•||TBA|
Items and tools
Throughout several games, Holmes uses his magnifying glass when he inspects things such as crime scenes, mutilated bodies, fingerprints, gashes and scratches—and uses it mostly for finding evidence. It is the only item to appear in most of the series.
He also uses his microscope in checking clues unseen by the naked eye. He has a chemistry set in his flat which he uses to dissolve solute, dissect clues, and find evidence. Each game also provides exploration to find items that Holmes can use later in the game to help solve the case.
Much of the gameplay throughout the whole series consists of themes and gameplay found in a classic adventure game. Players are encouraged to explore the games' sandbox landscapes, where clues are hidden in them. Point-and-click game-play is also prevalent. The series also lets the players interrogate certain people to gather evidence for the investigation. There are also instances where Holmes disguises himself in order to infiltrate a hostile location to get more evidence. The series lets the player play both Holmes and Watson in either first-person or third-person perspective. Holmes' game-play mostly consists of investigations and finding evidence to come to a conclusion. Watson's game-play mostly consists of him running errands for Holmes and assisting in the investigation. But there are sometimes instances where he takes control of the investigation.
Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Mummy was the first to use the first-person perspective in the series. Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Silver Earring is a point-and-click (mouse-controlled) third-person adventure, and the first one to use this perspective in the series. Clicking in the general direction you wish to go will usually cause your character to move in that direction. As Holmes, you spend time searching for important clues, most of which the bumbling police force have missed. Items are at least partly visible, though some are not interactive until an action in the game triggers them. You also analyze various clues using Holmes’ desktop laboratory.
The Awakened was the first Frogwares title to allow gameplay to take place in an entirely real-time 3D landscape and from a first-person perspective, losing the pre-rendered backgrounds of its predecessors. Like other Sherlock Holmes games by Frogwares, it has an open world environment in every location that can have hidden clues and interactions with NPCs. The inventory system saves all objects, documents, and map locations for later use and can also be used to combine objects. The game can be viewed from a first or third person perspective. It provides you with icons to indicate what actions Holmes can take within his world, like pick up something or talk to someone.
Development and inspiration
The characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the game series are modeled using the characters from the ITV series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and the portrayals by Jeremy Brett and David Burke, respectively.
Graphics and technology
Early games in the series use pre-rendered backgrounds, using them to hide clues in the scene and provide accessible open world landscapes. It features a combination of 2D and 3D styles of view in the background.
The Awakened was the first Frogwares title to allow gameplay to take place in an entirely real-time 3D landscape and from a first-person perspective. Frogwares made a well rendered 3D environment without the normal excessive pixilation that haunted many adventure games. It is also the first game to feature gory murder scenes. For that, it was rated M for mature.[by whom?]
All this is mixed with a lush presentation of 19th century London, depicting its characteristic dimly-lit lonely alleyways. The graphics quality was an improvement from all the previous games in the series. Animation in particular became more smoother and much more natural-looking. The third-person camera can also be moved around the character independently, which helps both to find an angle you're comfortable with and to take in your surroundings while standing still.
These upgrades are part of a broader move to attract more console players. After the last game, Frogwares got feedback, from Xbox players in particular, that they wanted more adventure games with 3D graphics and also production values to match what other genres are offering. And Frogwares was eager to deliver, though the developer still insists this does not mean forgetting about PC players, as some speculate.
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. The new games in the series differ from this (especially The Testament of Sherlock Holmes); holding no restraint in displaying the grisly murders, as the characters depicted are purely fictional.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is the first in the series to have a great leap in graphics. Designers used motion capture to get realism in characterization. The game also benefits from a new light and shadow system, various post-treatment image effects, and high quality voice-over and cinematographic direction.
In addition to the main series, Frogwares (by itself or through its casual division Waterlily) has developed four casual games, with simplified gameplay. They're generally less faithful to the canon, with fantasy and supernatural themes, for a younger target.
|2008||Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Persian Carpet|
|2010||Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House|
|2011||Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles|
|2012||Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Frozen City|
Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Persian Carpet
Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Persian Carpet, was released in mid 2008. Unlike the preceding games, The Mystery of the Persian Carpet is primarily an object hunt game. The game was rated poorly and was generally considered a disappointing follow-up to Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper. GameSpot's review of the game found it "not all that appropriate as a sequel to the other adventures that Sherlock and Watson have been starring in during the past few years." 
Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House
Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles
Released in 2011 for PC and Nintendo DS.
Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Frozen City
|Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Persian Carpet||2008||•||Primarily an object hunt game|
|Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House||2010||•||Casual game|
|Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles||2011||•||•||Casual game|
|Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Frozen City||2012||•||Casual game|
|Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Mummy||63.17%||61|
|Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Silver Earring||70.23%||68|
|Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened||71.32%||72|
|Sherlock Holmes vs Arsène Lupin||73.41%||71|
|Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper||71.94%||73|
|The Testament of Sherlock Holmes||75.42%||73|
|Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments||80.60%||77|
|Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter||62.80%||65|
The games are a commercial success. The series has sold 4 million copies on PC alone as of 2012.
A few titles of the series has also garnered awards from various gaming websites and communities. Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened earned GameSpot's "Best Use of a License" award in 2007. It was also nominated for GameSpot's and IGN's "Best PC Adventure Game of 2007" awards. In 2011, Adventure Gamers named The Awakened the 80th-best adventure game ever released.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes 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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Play as the famous Sherlock Holmes in this PC remake that has been redesigned for the Nintendo DS.
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