[Review] The Testament of Sherlock Holmes (PS3/PC)

My first experience having any interaction with Sherlock Holmes was the adventure game, the Mummy, and I was not that impressed by the gameplay, nor Holmes’s character. The Mummy is an older game from the early 2000s, so the graphics can be overlooked. However, Holmes’s snooty know-it-all character really bothered me. I really didn’t like him very much, and I think that almost ruined my future of playing anything Sherlock Holmes. I am glad I left that door open a crack to make room for future Holmes games; Boy, am I ever!

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes begins in a dusty attic where three young children; two girls and a very young boy, go exploring. One of them finds an old book written by Dr. John Watson, Holmes’s faithful sidekick, about one of Holmes’s cases. The kids gather ’round and listen while one of them reads a very disturbing story. The story then propels the gamer to Holmes and Watson at the turn of the 20th century. They are called to investigate the brutal murder of a bishop at his living quarters. This investigation leads the pair all over London and environs, trying to uncover those responsible. The story digs deep which I won’t elaborate on without spoiling it for the rest of you, but it is a full-bodied, complete and satisfactory story from start to finish. 

Never have I spent so much time single-handedly trying to finish a game before. I originally started to play the game on the PS3. My friend, Frank, lent me his copy. I sat on the game for about 5 months until I realized my Christmas return deadline was rolling up fast, so I played the game for a solid 3 weeks before realizing the game is huge and I was not going to finish it in time. But that ended up being okay thanks to Steam’s Winter Sale where I got the Testament of Sherlock Holmes for super cheap. It just meant a new platform, and having to play the game all over again. Some might think that prospect would be tedious, but I actually didn’t mind it. Essentially, I have blown about 20 hours on this game; about 7 hours on the PS3 version, and 13 on the PC version.

The good: Gameplay is simple enough. Visual cues are easy to understand.Good guts: menu system rocks, decent map that makes sense. Great graphics. Awesome story. Somebody stop me!

The Bad: Subject matter can be very gruesome, graphic and in some cases, shocking (and this is ME saying that…). Puzzles are super stump-worthy. Watson lacks personal space. (And I am passing parental judgment here…) These children in the attic should not be reading this story!

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is a first-person and third-person perspective game, and one can easily switch between the two perspectives. You play Holmes and Watson, one character at a time depending on the scene and situation. The game lets you know which character you will be playing. It is an adventure game that encourages you to move about and explore your space. Some icons – like a magnifying glass and a pipe – give the gamer visual cues that an action should be taken. To that end, manoeuvring through the clues is very simple, and once a clue has been explored, it is deactivated. In your collecting of clues, you are made to deduce how the crime took place, thanks to a deduction board in the menu. Certain aspects of the story are given, and it’s up to you to make the puzzles fit to come to the correct conclusion. This is one area that is challenging, but very fun. There are separate puzzles that you encounter along the way as well, like picking a lock, and untangling rope.

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The menu system is easily scrolled through using the bumpers on the gaming controller. Every clue that is discovered is recorded in some capacity in that menu, whether it be an object placed in inventory, or something revealed in an interview. Also, one thing I found very helpful was the transcript of everything that is said in the game. So for example, if the phone rings at home while you are playing, you can refer back so you don’t lose your place in the story. I also must play props to the mapping system. I know the last couple of reviews I crowed about the shitty map. This game does the map right, and allows you to click a place to propel you there.

Great menu system

Great menu system

Playing this game has redeemed my feelings toward Sherlock Holmes. In hindsight, I should not have started the franchise with the Mummy game, but thankfully I gave Holmes one more chance with Testament of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is somewhat of a know-it-all, yes. But, he does have the cajones to back it all up. In this game, his partner, Watson, also shone. My only complaint about him was that he followed you around and had this awful habit of stopping right in front of you and refusing to move.

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With amazing graphics, there was also some shocking imagery. I wouldn’t say it turned me off to the game at all – it just was a bit unexpected how vivid and in some cases, out-of-place they were…so if you play, just be prepared.

Just your average body in the wall...nothing to see here...

Just your average body in the wall…nothing to see here…

When I moved from the PS3 to the PC  version of the Testament of Sherlock Holmes, I was half expecting there to be some subtle differences, but honestly, about the only real thing I noticed was that the lip sync was a bit off in the PC version – a propos of nothing. The game looks great on both platforms, and both play similarly. Overall, the Testament of Sherlock Holmes was stellar and I highly recommend it. Thanks to Steam, I bought the full collection of Sherlock Holmes games, and I look forward to more adventures in the franchise!

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes
Developer: Focus
Released: 2013

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