The Testament of Sherlock Holmes – PS3
Platform: Sony PlayStation 3
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive, Atlus
Release Date: North America – September 25, 2012
Genre: Mystery, Puzzle
Geek Rating: 5.5/10
In celebration of BBC’s Sherlock returning for a third season and going back into another three year hiatus, I would like to review a Holmes based game that I, personally, have been meaning to play for a while. So grab your shock blankets, put on your deer stalkers, and ready your deduction skills for my review of The Testament of Sherlock Holmes.
The year is 1898 and Sherlock Holmes just solved a case involving a very rare and very missing necklace. He of course he, being Sherlock Homes, finds the necklace and returns it to its rightful owner, but when the necklace is discovered to be a fake, Holmes finds himself being the number one suspect during his own case. Adventure and mayhem ensues as Watson begins to question whether he really knew Sherlock Holmes at all.
Coming into The Testament of Sherlock Holmes I wasn’t expecting much from it. The general receival of the game is very mixed (Gamefly rates it as a 4.6/10 while other sources rate it at an 8/10) so if I didn’t expect much from this game it was because I didn’t know what to expect. It also doesn’t help that previous Sherlock Holmes based games are notorious for being not so great games. I (being a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series) really wanted it to live up to its potential that it had coming from such a long and historic series.
That being said, my first impression of this game as that this little gem really wasn’t as bad as some would make it out to be. I didn’t have any problems during the beginning few sequences of the game. But as I got more into the game, glitches did become a problem. (Described later)
The gameplay and character handling was decent (It wasn’t the best but it also wasn’t the worst that I’ve dealt with). The movement controls were all around quite clunky. They aren’t as sensitive as most games, so just simply moving in a direction or interacting with a clue took a lot more frustration on my part than was needed. Although the character movement (or lack thereof) was frustrating, it didn’t make the game completely unplayable.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is not heavy with action. Yes, you control both Holmes and Watson, and yes, there is quite a bit of action in the cut scenes, but as a player, you never control any of the action. The base of the action is carried out by cut-scene cinematics and, frankly, overpowering shit’s-about-to-happen music. The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is a puzzle/mystery game straight to its Victorian (and slightly disturbed) heart. So, if you’re one of those gamers that likes heavy amounts of action and explosions, this game probably wouldn’t be your cup of tea. But if you love puzzle games and gruesome murders, this could very well be one of your next favorite games.
The puzzles themselves came in many different varieties and difficulties. What I probably enjoyed most of all about this game was that the puzzles weren’t repetitious in theme. For example, one sequence you could be creating a opium-based tranquilizer potent enough to knock out an elephant while in another sequence you could be decoding a secret message. If for some reason a particular puzzle is stumping you, eventually the game will give you the option to skip the puzzle (Though you should note that you can’t get the reward for solving all the puzzles if you were to skip one). I tried to use this option as little as possible, but it was comforting to know that there was a figurative “mayday” button available.
For those who might be fans of the classic mystery novels and short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (or maybe you just watch the countless Holmes-centered movies and television specials), The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is full of enough Holmesian references to make any Sherlockian have a fangasm. Little details like a knife through client letters, or the harpoon sitting over Watson’s doorway (In reference to a murder weapon used in The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle) are what tie The Testament of Sherlock Holmes together. The developers of this game worked hard to try to tie the old Holmes with the new which I felt really worked well with this game. I also give them major brownie points for never using “Elementary, my dear Watson” (which was in fact a line never uttered in the original series) in the game’s dialogue.
While The Testament of Sherlock Holmes did have a lot going for it, there were some pretty major flaws (a.k.a MASSIVE glitches/operational issues) within the game. The first issue I have with this game is that it does not automatically save. Usually this isn’t a problem for me as I am usually pretty religious about saving my games in the first place, but it struck me as odd that there wasn’t even the option to have my game automatically save. But like I said, not a huge problem so I shrugged it off and continued playing, making sure to manually save every once in a while. Everything was fine and dandy until I reached about half way through the game with hours of game time logged. I got stuck in a glitch where Toby (a dog that you get to control for one sequences of the game) was stuck against a wall without the ability to go anywhere. I had to start the game over.
I just about cried.
I figured that since I had gotten that far in the game I should see how the thing ended so I (channeling what little patience I had left at that point) quickly skimmed through the game (really taking advantage of the “skip puzzle” feature at this point) to get back to the place were I had stopped. The second time through I encountered another glitch, although not game debilitating. This time, during a prison investigation, every character that spoke had voices that sounded like they came straight from the pits of hell. Luckily, this glitch was temporary and fixed itself as soon as the investigation was finished. But still . . . it was probably the creepiest thing I’ve heard in a while.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmeshas a quite a lot going for it to make it a somewhat decent game, but had quite a few debilitating flaws that ruined my experience of this game. The game’s only redeeming qualities are that the puzzles are intriguing and that the game stay’s as close to the original series as possible. I certainly would not recommend buying this game due to the massive amounts of bugs that I’ve encountered, but if you are interested in playing the game, it’s available for Gamefly rental and sold on Amazon and Ebay.
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