Review: Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter
Two years after the great Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments, the famous London detective returns for another adventure full of mystery and crime solving. Without upsetting the original formula, Frogwares manages to revitalize the licence through a wide variety of controlled situations and plots. With its modern touch, relaxed atmosphere and great art direction, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter has everything for fellow gaming investigators. Between humor, tension and betrayal, Sherlock Holmes continues through the generations but question is whether this game will stand the test of time, and be remembered as the greatest.
The story begins abruptly, in the heart of a snowy forest, veiled by a thick fog (it’s London after all). We discover a Sherlock Holmes different that what we are used to, one that is frightened, tracked by an invisible but real threat. Breathless and visibly in pain, the camera fades out to Sherlock being in bad shape; the oppressive atmosphere lays the foundations for a game that consists of several acts (4 and a kind of long epilogue), which revolves around a threat that involves an interesting part of the detective past and of Kate, his adopted daughter. After the prologue, a 48 hour flashback transports players into Holmes’ apartment of Baker Street.
Slumped on the sofa, Sherlock is increasingly depressed as the hours pass. In an attempt to warm the atmosphere, Watson lights a fire while the dog Toby snoozes in his corner. The tranquility is interrupted by the unexpected visit from Alice Bouvier, a new neighbor. The latter brings a weeping boy, with no news of his father for several weeks. It was enough action for the best detective in the city and launch your first investigation of the game, to mainly give you a refresher on how to handle interrogations, cross-examination, research and find clues… It’s all there! The investigation process is consistent and I cannot help but think of L.A Noire. If you remember that Rockstar gem, it was possible to detect the flaws of the respondents based on their facial expressions, and In Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter, such a feature would be too limited given the rigid animations. However, as it was for Rockstar’s game, bad deductions, if the elements are misinterpreted, can lead to false leads and undermine the truth of the facts. Fortunately, Sherlock, has amazing analytical skills, and is able to activate a sixth sense enabling him to uncover unsuspected clues or reconstruct the course of a scene, to put all pieces in good order.
To break an established franchise routine, the developers had the good idea to switch around the pace. Other than the typical investigation parts (site inspection, body analysis, etc…), the game now incorporates many action and infiltration phases to break the monotony: follow a suspect, run through the swamps and woods avoiding the whistling bullets, hiding before a person enters the room, defuse a bomb, escape traps in a Mayan temple… This succession of action sequence solidifies the immersion of the player in the story, even if it is generally buggy and not as polished as I would’ve like it to be.
The game also features a lot of puzzles and mini-games based on memory, reflexes or logic. Some parts of the game are surprising, where you even embody Toby and his “nose” to snuff out clues, or even the young Wiggins, who does not hesitate to go through a chimney to carry out its mission. Compared to Crime & Punishment, the game is still a little too unpolished, but has clearly gained effort from the development team. We also liked the small details added, like the ability to change clothes (especially to disguise and deceive guards) with a full array of fake mustache, sideburns, hat, sunglasses, coats, suit attires… etc.
Technically speaking, The Devil’s Daughter hardly surprised me, even on PC, with its outdated use of Unreal Engine 3, but it hides its weaknesses by a really successful atmosphere. Compared to its predecessor, the places you’ll visit are broader and more complex. From The Baker Street apartment to the pedestrian streets of London, passing by Scotland Yard, there are more than twenty different environments.
If some blunders are still present, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is a great pick to anyone who likes investigative games. The evolution may seem shy and the linearity of the title is obvious, but the result is a fun adventure to dive into, and discover the murky past of Sherlock Holmes. True fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work might be confused by this modern approach of, but the game world follows the trend set by the TV series and with fifteen hours of investigation, there’s much to do.
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter was reviewed using an PC downloadable copy of the game provided by Big Ben Interactive. The game was tested on a PC running Windows 10 Pro, with a 4GB NVIDIA Geforce GTX 960 fitted on a 5th Generation Intel i7 4720HQ 3.2Ghz CPU and topped with 16GB of RAM. The game is also available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
• The great clue and deduction system
• Nice artistic change from the franchise
• Well scripted story
• A very varied gameplay
• Great character building throughout the story
• Too easy for the franchise purists
• Some awkward and buggy action sequences
• Technically outdated
• A little too linear