Sherlock Holmes Vs. Jack The Ripper Review

Game Review: Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper (X360)
Release: April 27, 2010 (US)
Genre: Adventure
Developer: FrogWares / DreamCatcher Games
Available Platforms: X360 & PC
Players: 1
MSRP: $29.99 (XBox 360) / $19.99 (PC)
ESRB Rating: T for Teen: Mild Blood, Mild Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence

Dreamcatcher sets the atmosphere of the game as follows:

“1888, London, district of Whitechapel. A series of particularly horrible murders takes place in this district of the East End of London where atrociously mutilated prostitutes’ bodies are found. The police are unable to find a serious lead and the murders increase creating a real psychosis.

Sherlock Holmes starts looking for clues in the dark and sinister alleys of Whitechapel in order to follow the macabre trail of the one the press now calls Jack the Ripper. During a frightening adventure, Sherlock Holmes will try to bring out the true identity and the motives of the one who hides behind this scary alias.”

In this game you play the part of either Sherlock Holmes or Dr. Watson during different parts of the game, depending on the task at hand.  Examining crime scenes and getting information from citizens is all very straight forward as the interface will highlight all the items that you can interact with and will not let you go astray.  New locations appear on the map as discovered and again, the game will not allow you to travel to anywhere you do not need to go or return from a place before discovering all the information there to recover.  Moving through the streets of London the player has the choice of using a third person or first person view.  This comes down to player preference mostly, but some things are easier to discover in third person simply because you have a wider view of the environment.

The crimes investigated in the game are horrific but not depicted in a graphic way, leaving much to the imagination of the player.  The linear gameplay is much like reading a book with no branching story-lines which makes for a nearly effortless journey through the story.  The most graphic part of the game involves reassembling a clay model of a victim that reflects all the injuries and organ removal that was performed on the victim by Jack the Ripper.  Even though not gory, I found this to be the most disturbing part of the game, especially knowing that this was based on an actual crime.

The greatest thing about this game is the story.  With the puzzles being rather simple and the linear path through the game, the story keeps pulling the player forward.  With no frustration generating dead ends or wandering aimlessly for hours wondering what to do next, it makes this game a pleasant journey through a truly horrific tale.

As enjoyable as this game is, there is some room for improvement.  The voice acting is a bit stiff and the characters are fairly shallow but the things that count the most, interface and game-play, are done well, especially with this title being the first Xbox 360 title for the Sherlock Holmes series.  Several prior games in the series are available only on PC.

Far from the brutal death match sounding title is the actual leisurely style of this game.  Not being exactly what I expected, it took me along for the journey anyway, and I managed to grab all the achievements along the way.   Compared to other modern titles, the blood and gore are downplayed by showing Watson’s reaction while examining a gruesome scene or by depicting the scene in simplified artwork neglecting the details that are filled in by the dialog.  While the less than state of the art graphics seem a bit dated, it does not get in the way of the story. I was expecting a hard core mystery game but got a somewhat relaxing experience that made for a nice break from the running, driving and shooting games that make up most of the titles on the store shelf.  With an MSRP of $29.99 for the 360 or $19.99 for PC, this is quite an entertaining purchase.  I find myself looking forward to the next Sherlock Holmes title, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes due out at the “end of 2010” on both PC and Xbox 360.

Available for Xbox 360 and PC  in the Platform Nation Amazon Storefront.

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