The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes
The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes is an adventure game series developed by Mythos Software and published by the American computer game company Electronic Arts for DOS in the 1990s. The series contains The Case of the Serrated Scalpel (1992), and The Case of the Rose Tattoo (1996).
The two games in the series made extensive use of a location map, which allowed players quick, direct access to all game locations. While not the first computer detective game, The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes nonetheless advanced the genre through its use of the Sherlock Holmes investigative methods, from interviewing witnesses to lab analysis. The games introduced detailed environments and ambience sounds. The series features a relatively high degree of historic accuracy as it conjures up London of the late Victorian era.
The crime novel genre of which Sherlock Holmes is part stresses the importance of details in the surroundings, analysed by the protagonist, may play a decisive part in solving the mystery. In this regard, the gameplay can be said to marry the point-and-click style of 1990s adventure games with the style of Sherlock Holmes novels. Virtually every couch and fireplace in the game has a detailed description when clicked upon. The game is often laid out so that Holmes, when entering a house, will be studying the foyer and its items in detail, deducing much about the inhabitants before being presented to them. The descriptions of everyday items also often encompass a description of Victorian Britain.
The Case of the Serrated Scalpel
The player, as Sherlock Holmes, is engaged by Scotland Yard to help with the murder investigation of a young actress. While the manner of her death suggests this is another strike by Jack the Ripper, Holmes believes someone else had committed the crime. The investigation takes Holmes and Watson to many parts of late 19th Century London, including a perfume shop, the zoological gardens, the morgue, a pub, several dwellings, Surrey Commercial Dock, Savoy Street Pier, St Pancras Station, and of course 221B Baker Street.
The graphics are VGA, with MIDI music and a few scenes with digitalized speech (in the intro and end sequence, and the cutscene at St Pancras Station. In the other scenes there are sound effects, but no speech). The player interacts with the characters through a command menu with verb icons that is intuitive for anyone who had played other adventure games of the period. In 1994 the game was released for 3DO as full talkie and the portraits of the talkers were replaced by clips with video actors.
The Case of the Rose Tattoo
Holmes' brother Mycroft is caught in an explosion when his club, the Diogenes, is blown up. The player, first as Doctor Watson and then as Sherlock Holmes, investigates the explosion and discovers that it was not a gas leak but a bomb which was the cause. This leads them to investigate a case of espionage and the strange death of an unidentified man. In this game, establishing the identity of the victim is as important as finding out who killed him. The intricate plot leads the player to a great number of locations over town and involves several subplots.
The game is longer than its predecessor and features a much higher degree of historical accuracy and detail. The graphics are near-photo quality and the atmospheric sounds more are realistic, while the background music, which communicated the mood of the scenes in the first game, is applied less in the Rose Tattoo. Unlike the previous game, digitized speech is employed throughout the game and adds characterization to the NPCs.
The characters in the game were made by filming real actors in costume, against a bluescreen. While the characters are thus more lifelike, Rose Tattoo did not display large, high-quality faces shown during dialogues in the first game. A similar use of in-game video can also be found in e.g. Jones in the Fast Lane and Under a Killing Moon and in retrospect appears as a transient trend permitted by the available hardware. The CD-ROM greatly increased the data storage space available to a computer game. Most games of this period filled the empty space by enhancing the game with digitized speech and cut-scene videos. Later, advances in CPU and graphic card hardware allowed high-resolution characters to be rendered in 3D.
Sherlock Holmes / Professor Moriarty: George W. Gregg
Dr. Watson: Matt Stenger
Sherlock Holmes: Jarion Monroe
Dr. Watson: Roger L. Jackson
Mrs. Hudson: Coralie Persee
Wiggins (Baker Street Irregulars): Paul Vincent Black
Computer Gaming World's Charles Ardai wrote that "'The Case of the Serrated Scalpel' tells an unusually good story and is filled to the brim with audio-visual niceties, but ... it is not a game ... just a series of animated vignettes". He gave as example how the computer, not the player, chooses the chemicals and tools in Holmes' laboratory. Ardai concluded that "This game wants, more than anything else in the world, to be a Sherlock Holmes movie. Though it would be a very good one if it were, it is not. Therefore, it is deeply and resoundingly unsatisfying ... as a game it is simply, regrettably, another misfire in the Sherlock Holmes canon".
The reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly wrote of the 3DO version "Great graphics, excellent sound effects – this game really shows off the system's capabilities while providing a challenging mystery." They scored it a 6.6/10 average.
- Ardai, Charles (February 1993). "Electronic Arts' The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes". Computer Gaming World. p. 42. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- "The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes Review". Electronic Gaming Monthly (66). EGM Media, LLC. January 1995. p. 42.