Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened
After reviewing a while ago a game that was based on a story by Agatha Christie (Murder on the Orient Express), Sherlock Holmes: the Awakaned was delivered to me, yet another famous detective.
The Awakaned is not completely based on a story by sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but is a mix of detective with horror: Sherlock Holmes meets Cthulhu (a legendary sea monster). The latter one was created by horror writer H.P. Lovecraft and has equally inspired a couple of movies and games.
The story: after a period of boredom Sherlock finally gets another case to solve. It starts with the disappearing of a Maori servant of a rich man in the Baker Street environment. Quickly enough it seems that there are more strange disappearings, which bring Sherlock and Watson on the trail of a dangerous cult. The game’s creators call it the ‘darkest adventure of Sherlock Holmes ever’ and they’re right, horror elements always lurk around the corner. Not only are all kinds of body parts, blood and gruesomely mutilated bodies part of the scene, sometimes there are explicit gory scenes.
The story is not so bad, it certainly has some original moments, but it’s often not exciting enough. This happens because first of all it isn’t always clear what exactly is going on, apparently you’re supposed to know things you couldn’t know yet. Luckily everything is explained afterwards in a cutscene so at least you don’t miss out on the plot and there are moments (though not many) when you can make your own conclusions with the help of found evidence.
Secondly, various subplots are thrown into the plot in the end, meaning that eventually the ending is one big mess and you get the feeling the story continues, but that continuation was cut out for some reason. Result: some moments are melodramatic while characters look like over-emotional sissies and you’ll end up with a hollow feeling about it all.
This game plays as a classic point and click adeventure. In first person view you usually play as Sherlock Holmes himself and sometimes as Watson too. You have to search the environments for tracks, collect clues an solve some puzzles.
Because you can’t go on if you haven’t collected all objects in a certain area and some things are really very small, you sometimes will have to look pixel by pixel to find where that damn cursor finally changes, very frustrating of course. Here and there you can use detective tools like a magnifier, tweezers or Sherlock’s lab material. A very nice addition, which creates a certain detective story atmosphere.
The characters contribute to this atmosphere, they are even more elaborated than the story. Especially main character Sherlock offers some profundity. He seems to prefer the dry, a bit sarcastic, kind of humour and although it won’t make you laugh until it hurts, sometimes he just hits the right spot.
Let’s talk about the graphics now. These look outdated and unfortunately gave the game an old-fashioned look. The music and sound effects are nothing special, too bad, because sound is very important in creating atmosphere in this kind of games.
Nice concept, but badly finished. If some more attention to detail had been present, this game could have had a high score, but now it certainly doesn’t stand out from the crowd