Reviews - Updated on April 2, 2022

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One is coming out this year – a new game from the Frogwares studio in the series about the famous detective. We have already done interviews with the developers, and recently they gave us the opportunity to try a press demo. We share our impressions.

Back to the childhood

So, the new game will be a soft restart of the series. First of all, the image of the main character will change. Sherlock appears here still quite young, and we will be told how his character, talent and habits were formed. And it all starts with the fact that he, along with his childhood friend John, returns to the Mediterranean island of Cordona, where Sherlock was born – he wants to visit his mother’s grave.

The main characters sail to the island and are accommodated in a hotel. While their number is being prepared, John, out of boredom, invites Sherlock to determine who owns the cane that someone left on their table for a bet.

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One: Press Release Preview

The interiors of the hotel and many other buildings are detailed.

This starts the first serious case in the game. Yes, yes, the search for the owner of the cane eventually leads to the fact that we have to investigate a crime involving a drinking English aristocrat, his mistress, a well-known medium who conducts séances in a hotel, as well as ghosts of the past.

After that, the heroes visit the grave, where Sherlock learns that perhaps the mother did not die of tuberculosis, as he believed before, and that the local police were even investigating her death. He decides to find out the reason himself – this (as well as the relationship with John) is the main plot nerve of Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One.

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One: Press Release Preview

The game practically begins with a mysterious murder.

Sherlock is there, Sherlock is here

But even here the game is in no hurry to let the story follow the storyline. Need to get information from the archive? First, help the police with her case – make a portrait of the criminal who robbed the local atelier. The authors in our interview promised that in the new Sherlock they would try to avoid the quid pro quo. As you can see, avoiding is not always possible. And this is not that bad – rather, familiar to an adventure in an open world with side quests.

Judging by the prompts on the loading screen, in the full version we will catch criminals by handing them over to the police, while Sherlock can kill them or arrest them (the latter seems to be much more profitable). The combat system itself was not shown, but it is clear that it will be updated compared to The Sinking City – among other things, they will be allowed to use a snuff box to disorient the enemy.

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One: Press Release Preview

The difficulty level of battles can be changed.

It is enough to look at a huge map of the island with a bunch of institutions and institutions, and it becomes clear that there is time and place for fights and unhurried detective investigations – both plot and not so. In addition, it will be possible to buy newspapers to learn about the consequences of their actions, and clothes to use disguises in the right situations. This means that we need money, which we will earn with the same arrests and side hacks.

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One: Press Release Preview

Sherlock will have a separate wardrobe where you can change costumes and in general his appearance.

Young Detective Pack

There are new mechanics in the actual detective gameplay. The basis is still the same: we interview people, we collect and study, we examine the evidence, we get leads from this for the Mind Halls, where we then draw conclusions and decide who the criminal is and why. Plus, we face a moral choice, hand him over to the police or let him go. Because – and this was shown by the very first case in the demo – there is no unambiguously black and white.

The former thief killed his former accomplice again, because he was afraid that she would go to prison again because of her – once she had already betrayed him, and he spent three years on the bunk, and now he began a new, honest life. He is guilty, yes, but does he deserve prison hell again, or is it better to let the poor fellow escape?

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One: Press Release Preview

Does he look like a typical detective?

At the same time, as the authors promised in the interview, the Mind Halls system, compared to The Sinking City, has become more similar to what we saw in Crimes & Punishments – the investigation is non-linear, there is a chance to miss something important and draw the wrong conclusion sending an innocent to jail. And now there are fewer situations with reconstructions of past events, and they are more logically arranged by themselves.

Sherlock can also turn on a special vision mode, in which he sees important objects, traces and outlines of people to follow, and even determines the nationality, profession and mood of those around him. True, this is not enough to get the necessary information from them. Often you will have to first choose the right topic / evidence and fix it in the diary – this is the pinned evidence mechanic that we were told about in an interview.

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One: Press Release Preview

The first reconstruction of events in the game.

Finally, now Sherlock can eavesdrop on conversations and learn important information from them – for example, that the mistress of an English aristocrat from the hotel, according to the gossip of the maids, behaved strangely and soldered her gentleman.

On the old rake

In general, all this makes a good impression. The game looks and sounds solid and rich. The streets and landscapes of the island turned out to be especially picturesque.

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One: Press Release Preview

The gameplay is addictive, and the plot intrigues not only the investigation into the death of Sherlock’s mother, but also his relationship with his childhood friend John, who constantly accompanies us and ironically comments on the actions of the future legendary detective. At the beginning, a shocking detail about this relationship is revealed, but the authors asked not to disclose it. And yes, Sherlock is heterosexual, it’s not about that.

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One: Press Release Preview

Outwardly, they are very similar.

And yet, following the results of the demo, a number of questions arose. Firstly, it is not very clear why the authors so stubbornly continue to flirt with the mechanics of the open world, instead of making a more story-driven, concise and biting, dramatic game that would immediately cling and not let go. Indeed, despite promises to draw conclusions after The Sinking City, the implementation of the world in Chapter One leaves much to be desired – at least, judging by what we saw in the demo.

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One: Press Release Preview

Heroes will have to visit very unusual places.

Yes, it’s beautiful here, there are many “points of interest”, newspapers in the stalls and people on the streets. But at the same time, there are many long runs from point to point, and the inhabitants still resemble clockwork dolls, not people. The authors said that it would be possible to communicate with them directly about current detective cases. As a result, all communication in the vast majority of cases comes down to two phrases: “Can you help me?” “Sorry, I don’t know anything about that.”

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One: Press Release Preview

In some locations, just a huge number of janitors with a broom.

Yes, and in the mechanics of the investigation there are extra things. For example, the system of attaching important topics, pinned evidence, seemed to me like that – it doesn’t even complicate, but clutters up situations.

Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One: Press Release Preview

This cane will have to tinker with.

Especially since some of them are stupid in and of themselves. For example, we are asked to use the special vision mode to find an English aristocrat in the front garden, to whom we need to give a cane. It turns out that it is necessary to find either a Greek, or some other completely non-Englishman, and find out from him where the British aristocrat is. A non-Englishman will tell you only if we attach the correct topic, although they are all about the same thing. Can you imagine how this slows down the investigation?

In this trailer, you can see the main gameplay mechanics, including battles.

It is already clear that Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One will turn out to be a typical detective adventure game with action elements for the series, only with a more emotional and personal plot, a new image of Sherlock, interesting, although sometimes overloaded with investigation mechanics, and a picturesque, but hardly living world. , on which you have to run a lot back and forth. Fans of the series should like it, but newcomers will hardly be attracted to the game.

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