Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Review – AN ELEMENTARY REMAKE
If there’s one thing 2022/3 has had in no short supply, it’d have to be the constant barrage of remakes and remasters of classic video games. Resident Evil, Dead Space, Metroid, Advance Wars—you name it. Even good ol’ Sherlock Holmes has received the full makeover treatment here. His latest adventure, now set after 2021’s Chapter One, has our young Balenciaga-looking detective taking on his first case with the one and only Dr. Watson. Featuring a mix of Lovecraftian horror and clever ‘what-the-heck-is-happening?’ puzzles, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened’s 12-hour globetrotting investigation has turned out to be much more streamlined than its predecessor.
The Probability Lies in That Direction
If you’ve experienced the aforementioned Chapter One, it’ll be no surprise to hear that the writing in this game is just as snappy as ever, with Sherlock and Watson never missing a chance to give each other grief. And just like the last entry, there’s definitely something more ‘going on’ between these two, if you know what I mean… But seriously, the chemistry between Holmes and Watson is electric. When the more sombre scenes come around, their charisma effortlessly sells the dramatic tension. The cool part here is that Watson is now a fully controllable character for particular sections; contributing his medical expertise and being able to tag-team specific puzzles alongside Mr. Holmes. There aren’t any new mechanics or systems added to coincide with Watson’s inclusion, but it is neat to play as both sides of this legendary duo.
In terms of gameplay, it’s very similar to Chapter One. The Awakened gives very little guidance on where to go next, other than the items the two partners have on hand, which works really for a game like this. Each piece of evidence found is assigned 1-3 small icons denoting what action Sherlock should take: use an item, search an area, activate Sherlock’s ‘Concentration’ ability to further inspect an object, reconstruct a crime scene through his ‘Imagination’, etcetera. As much as I enjoyed exploring the open-world setting of Cordona in Chapter One, it did lead to a stupendous amount of running in circles. Especially when it came to finding a very specific piece of evidence needed to progress. A royal pain in the Mycrofts, as Sherlock would (probably) say.
To resolve this, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened has opted for a semi-open world with tighter areas and mechanics that keep players focused on discovering clues and solving mysteries efficiently; an aspect that Chapter One lacked to a degree. They’ve dropped the janky combat system, potion-brewing sections and other parts of that game. Things like trading, eavesdropping, Jon’s challenges and Sherlock’s disguises are also all but gone. Hence even though The Awakened has adopted a more brisk pace, the problem now is that something feels like it’s missing from the formula. Unfortunately, we can’t seem to have the best of both worlds here.
Going Up the Sideway Stairs
One aspect that The Awakened nailed however, is its Lovecraftian influence. The Cthulhu-based story and aesthetic complement Sherlock’s world with such ease; visually distinguishing it from Chapter One whilst bringing in its own unique gameplay sections to boot. At certain parts of the story, Sherlock will need to escape from a strange parallel dimension where abstract-looking geometry and freaky tentacle monsters reside in very off-the-wall locations. I won’t spoil anything about the inbuilt puzzles, but the solutions to these areas wouldn’t make a lick of sense in reality—exactly what you’d expect from a Lovecraft-inspired world. Gameplay-wise, they act as a great palate cleanser to Sherlock’s regular investigative work, forcing our famous ‘consulting detective’ to think well and truly outside of the box.
The narrative this time revolves around an interconnected missing persons case that takes Sherlock and Watson around the world in their investigation, whilst slowly evolving into much more sinister and cult-like themes. Even if the intriguing story and plot don’t quite pay off in the end, the locales and scenes the iconic duo visit will undoubtedly pique your interest at points.
That being said, there were a fair amount of glitches that almost completely destroyed the immersion. For example, sometimes a character/object would start randomly glitching on the spot, or Watson would occasionally box Sherlock into a corner during gameplay, forcing an impromptu save reload. They didn’t occur enough to be considered a major problem, though they certainly were more than noticeable. Thankfully, the game runs smoothly on PC at a near-constant 60FPS, with only a couple of hiccups that occur when entering/exiting new areas and scenes.
Even though this remake of Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened has improved upon the original 2006 release in practically every way possible, it still feels like something is lacking overall. The devs went with a semi-open world approach here and have streamlined the investigative sections greatly compared to Chapter One, but the story and gameplay of this entry never quite reach a fever pitch. That being said, if you’re looking for some solid detective and puzzle-solving escapades, in tandem with the spooky weirdness of HP Lovecraft, then look no further.
By Anthony Culinas – Reviewed on PC
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened has received a rather elementary remake. Those returning from Chapter One will appreciate the witty writing and banter between Holmes and Watson, though it is missing a certain ‘wow factor’ for a remake like this to truly stand out in today’s market. The Awakened is designed to be much more streamlined than it’s predecessor, while the Lovecraftian-themed imagery and gameplay help to spice things up. Sherlock fans looking for something a little different should have a decent time here.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Frogwares. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.
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