Sunday, 24 July 2011

Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper

If you’ve heard of this title it was probably from a bargain bin or list of easy to 1k games; which is true, but it also has to be the best game I’ve played in months.
The game is essentially a glorified point and click, only this time you wheel around Watson or Holmes in first person instead of being given a picture of the room. I’d like to compare it to the other big puzzle game of this year; L.A Noire.
Throughout the game you will notice a distinct lack of polish, the graphics aren’t awful but the animations are laughably bad and the voice acting is a bit off. The voices aren’t terrible though; the game starts with the most hilariously bad monologue ever, but as the game gets into its swing the quality improves. This is a million miles away from L.A Noires slick production, mocap and faithfully recreated cities.
The thing is the gameplay and story are infinitely better. Noire made you search for clues and play a flawed face reading game, while the story just unfolded infront of you. Here the clues are given to you pretty much, it’s about what you do and deduce from them. For instance you’ll investigate a crime scene, but then put the evidence on a board and figure out when, how and why. I’ll give you an example, you have six possible motives like revenge or money, you add statements like “the murders were brutal” or “the victims were poor” and eliminate the incorrect ones. I was very impressed how authentic the investigation turned out to be, progression felt more like progress than luck and writing.
There are also a substantial amount more puzzles that are well executed. The game balances the staples of point and clicks, puzzles and narrative cleverly and the interface, effectively the menu from Fallout, works well. The solutions are wholly logical, I only got stuck twice and both times it was because I’d missed an essential clue somewhere.
The story matches if not beats that of L.A Noires. Keeping the narrative focused on a single case means the hours invested into the story pay off much more later in the game. The ending pays off well and gives a legitimately good explanation for why the public never find out. I’d also like to commend the tone, I remarked earlier that the Sherlock Holmes were dark and sinister and the streets of Whitechapel are black, infected with crooks and disease at every corner.
If you played L.A Noire and wanted something more engaging and harder than Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper is a low budget alternative that may be a bit behind the times but is still easily enjoyed.

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