Sherlock Holmes is arguably one of the most famous fictional characters that traverses all mediums. I am personally a huge fan of him, whether it’s the original books or the film and television version. That’s why I was excited to play Sherlock Holmes: Crime and Punishment. I couldn’t wait to get into some cases and see what it would be like in the mind of the most famous detective. Sadly, I didn’t feel like I was solving murder cases, but playing a kids memory matching game.

I’ll admit, I was surprised by how detailed the facial animations were. There are countless close-ups throughout the game so it was definitely necessary. Sadly, that’s about all the good animation there is. The environment you couldn’t interact with was painfully bland. Only the small objects you could touch would hold the detail for the obvious and necessary reasons.

This makes the presentation have a bad start, but the dialog makes it plummet further. The lines are all delivered stiffly, and any fans of Sherlock know him and Watson have entertaining banter. Everything felt forced between them and there was never a moment they seemed to be friends. There were jarring cuts between a cut-scene and gameplay. A character would shout, “better watch out,” and a loading screen would pop up for five seconds, then a quick gameplay part would occur where you had to press one button, then another five second loading screen, before finally getting back to finishing the scene. It was a pointless cut that only wasted more time.

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments_20140929120033

Jumping right into the first case I couldn’t wait to get started…after sitting through a long loading-screen. Once I arrived I learned there was an old sea captain murdered in his cabin and no one saw it happen. An interesting case to start off on, and one I couldn’t wait to dive into. I was expecting I would interview people, search for clues, and then have to put those clues together to form an theory. Technically, that is exactly what I did, but only to the shallowest extent.

When you interview people the game doesn’t let you choose what you say by picking from multiple options. Instead, you select every option and get all the responses. The people weren’t difficult with answering me, and they’d always give me what I wanted. Sometimes, they would tell a lie. When that happened I needed to catch them in that lie. Here’s where the game presented me options to choose from. I was nervous I would get it wrong and let the person get away with lying. Sadly, you cannot get it wrong, if you do, the game resets and tells you too choose again. Not very urgent if the game doesn’t progress until you choose the proper answer.

I was hoping that searching for clues would be more interesting, and in some ways it can be—at first. What it comes down to is you enter a room, move your cursor all over until you find something to examine, examine it, and continue until you’ve completed the room. This would all be fine, except, the process is slow with too many animations of objects lifting up, putting down, moving them around, and you get the picture. I didn’t think Crime and Punishment would be a speedy game, but after examining hundreds of objects, those seconds of pointless animations really start to pile up.

The game tries to break up the gameplay by using an Imagination mechanic. Sherlock visualizes what he believes happened and can piece the crime together. This may require you to watch ghosts of the events and piece it all together in the proper order. It’s fun enough to get away from the usual clue gathering, but it isn’t anything I necessarily looked forward to happening.

Sherlock Holmes Crime and Punishment

There was no critical thinking involved in searching for clues either. I thought hard in the first case where the next clue may be, but halfway through the second I realized I just had to mash the X button over everything. Sherlock would tell me what was important and then say where to go next. Sometimes you needed to use a  Crime and Punishment held your hand through the entire case. I didn’t feel like a detective, more like a kid whose parents told him exactly what to do and I had to follow with blind obedience.

The only part of figuring out the clues I enjoyed was when you had to go to your deduction space. The screen looked like a brain with many neurons to connect. After finding the clues, you would often have two choices. For example: when someone’s notebook was found at the crime scene you had two options either A) they dropped it as they murdered the person, or B) they were at the scene of the crime, but not necessarily the murderer.

Needless to say a notebook at the crime scene doesn’t make someone a murderer, but as the game goes on the choices get a little more difficult to determine. As you make your conclusions more can open up. It was interesting as I started branching a path, one thing led to another, and before I knew it I had a murderer in mind.

Sherlock Holmes Crime and Punishment

That part of the gameplay was my favorite and it’s what made the third case stand out to me the most. There were three suspects, they all had their own motives, and right up until the end I wasn’t entirely sure who really did it. I could branch all my deductions into different paths so I could accuse any one of them. It was at this moment I realized, I didn’t actually have any hard evidence, only circumstantial evidence and I was going to make my best guess at who did it. I was hoping for a little more hard evidence to be used at the end, and not just an educated guess.

I was wrong with my choice, but that leads me to my other favorite thing about Crime and Punishment. When you choose who committed the murder, you are allowed to go back and pick someone else. This prevents you from replaying the whole level to see a different ending and this is especially helpful because there is a morality mechanic in place as well. You can decide the punishment for the criminal. In this way, you can see both endings for that criminal. It’s a double-edge sword in a sense. It is great for the player who wants to see the other endings without replaying the game, but that’s the problem, it takes away any replayability Crime and Punishment had.

The main problem I discovered playing this title occurred when I was reading my umpteenth document. Was reading this actually important? Did I have to really personally examine the clues, or would the game put everything together for me. Needless to say, on my next case I didn’t read a single thing. I skipped all the cut-scenes, examined everything without paying attention, and did all the interviews not listening to a single word.

Sherlock Holmes Crime and Punishment

One would hope doing this would make solving the case impossible. It was as easy as all the others. The reason for that is all in the deduction section. That was the only part I read, and those snippets of information summarized the entire case. I was able to read those little paragraphs, make my deductions, and I arrested the right person. Once again, the final decision is mostly circumstantial so I didn’t miss any hard evidence to detain anyone. I used my best judgment and apprehended the right person.

In between the main gameplay letting me down, I had to deal with various mini-games, many of which let me down even more. Some were entertaining and difficult. Picking locks and making chemical solutions following a complicated formula were entertaining as they were frustrating. Other mini-games were as easy as following step-by-step instructs. Lift this, move this, put it down, twist it around, and you solved the puzzle! No thinking required.

By far my favorite part of Crime and Punishment is the ability to skip any puzzle. This should be in every game and here’s why. When a puzzle gets too hard and you are stuck on it for close to an hour, you will most likely quit the game. Unless, you could skip the puzzle with no harm done. Likewise, when you are doing a puzzle that isn’t really a puzzle, it is a relief to be able to skip it.

What I liked least of all were the unbearably long loading-screens whenever you wanted to do anything. Any time you traveled you had to sit in carriage and wait sometimes up to ten or fifteen seconds. To make matters worse, this games requires a lot of backtracking, so there is no way to avoid those loading screens. The game also had textures pop-in late, and the frame stutters on occasion. Even on the PS4 this game isn’t a technical power house in any way.

sherlock holmes crime and punishment

Truthfully, by the end of the third case I was tired of this game. Nothing new happened besides a tiny new mechanic that didn’t really change up the gameplay enough, only added on another annoying step to solve the case. I discovered I didn’t need to pay attention to anything and even if I skipped through literally everything I could still solve the case. The characters weren’t interesting, the voice-acting was stiff and monotone, the amount of backtracking through long loading-screens was frustrating, the facial animations were good, but everything else was bad graphically, and most of all the game holds you hand the entire time so there is no critical thinking required on your part. Crime and Punishment is an okay Sherlock Holmes game, a terrible detective game, and all around something that you can skip unless you are a die-hard fan or bored.

This review is based off a review code of the Playstation 4 version of Sherlock Holmes: Crime and Punishment developed by Frogwares and provided by Focus Home Interactive.

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Criminally Awful | Sherlock Holmes: Crime And Punishment Review
Overall Score6
  • Good Facial Animations
  • Some Challenging Mini-games
  • Connecting Deductions
  • Little Critical Thinking Required
  • Poor Presentation All Around
  • Handholding Gameplay
6Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)