It’s been a few years since Sherlock Holmes finally vanquished his foe, Moriarty and claimed a prize like no other: a daughter. Now, something is about to throw his life into chaos and he’ll have to face the truth of The Devil’s Daughter.
Publisher: Bigben Interactive
Release Date: Jun 2016
Played: Full game.
Purchase At: Steam
Source: Review Copy provided by Publisher
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is the sequel to my favourite game in Frogware’s Sherlock Holmes Adventures series, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes. It takes place years later when Sherlock’s adopted daughter, Katelyn, is in her early teens and deals with her sudden return home and the relationship between father and daughter and the influence of Sherlock Holmes’ new neighbour, Alice.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes was, at the time, the last game in the series and showed a much older Sherlock, yet it was shocking for me to see that in Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter, he looks incredibly younger, perhaps the youngest he’s ever been in the series. It might be just his look under the new graphical engine but it feels inconsistent with the earlier releases in Frogware’s long-running series.
I mean, look at Watson, he’s astoundingly different to the other games, looking like a dandy.
Much like the previous title in the series, Crimes & Punishments, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is a case-focused game, where you solve one mystery after another, some original and at least one pulled directly from the source material, which I would mind were it not for the fact that you can choose a different—if not wrong—deduction and make a moral choice, making the result a bit different for all character involved.
The cases are pretty damn good, with lots of different clues to find and quite a few deductions to make, in some cases with multiple suspects where they all have enough motives and abilities to commit the crime. These red herrings are amazing and during one of the cases, if not for the compelling evidence on another suspect, I would have been convinced that a clumsy character was the real culprit. I applaud that about Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter.
Having said so, I wish the final investigation had been much more complex. The chain reaction puzzle is outstanding but that’s the only part that is truly challenging about it, the rest being more of the same.
But what makes Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter different from its predecessor is that the major story arc of the game, the relationship between father and daughter and the influence the mysterious Alice has on them, is not just something that happens in cutscenes between cases but a family drama interwoven with the investigations. Katelyn is a normal part of Sherlock’s life and so her opinions and needs come into play even if Holmes is busy solving a case.
During my first playthrough I played Sherlock perhaps a bit too cold and rational, drawing from the different sources for his behaviour, without considering the man could have softened with a daughter, and I was happy to see that it lead to a deteriorating relationship between parent and child. Now that I’m playing it for a second time, intent on changing this relationship, I wonder if the ending will be similar.
Speaking of which, while the family drama is great, the character Alice and her “end game” could have used a bit more work, not on the concept itself, which was very good but on the pacing. The game goes into the final act perhaps too quickly, not giving the characters enough chance to build things up. I would have liked her to be a subtle threat for a bit longer before the big ending.
And yes, part of it is because I wanted a few more cases.
Having said so, the last act is sufficiently tense and dramatic, but mostly because some amazing direction in the scenes, with some clever transitions, a powerful sound design and the amazing portrayals. It’s better than most psychological thrillers you see in the cinema or TV. It’s truly spectacular.
Speaking of which, I missed Kerry Shale deeply, having grown used to his voice in every other game in the series. As it stands, the new actor Alex Jordan does a really nice job on the emotionally charged scenes, which are the core of the game, but doesn’t quite hit the mark with the classic Sherlock Holmes attitudes and responses to those around him. Then again, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter focuses far less on the character’s intellectual superiority than it does on his emotional immaturity.
Another major difference from other games in the series is the inclusion of action sequences and quick time events in Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter. I normally hate these, but the multiple choice slow-mo sequences where you use Sherlocks’ observational skills to determine the best choice are pretty damn good, particularly the bar brawl, which is my favourite.
But, and there’s always a but, most of them drag out for far too long. For example, the stealth sequence with Wiggins and the escape at the end of the first case could’ve been much shorter, as the length of them didn’t add to the tension but instead drained it, particularly that infuriating swamp.
Sometimes, less is more.
Music and sound effects are great and really add to the tension in the bigger scenes, as the bass will often pound to a heartbeat rhythm, almost making you feel as if it were your own heart beating faster. During the last chapter, the music and the effects are the primary reason the end-game works so well, as they fill you with the necessary tension throughout the experience.
But one major drawback throughout the game is that even with the sound settings balanced, the music and sound effects will often drown out the voices, particularly in 221B Baker Street where the footsteps are extremely loud. Just listen during the first cutscene in Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter and you’ll see what I mean.
Visually it’s stunning of course, following up from Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments’ engine, and aside from the younger character models for the Sherlock Holmes single cool dad experience, the characters look fantastic, especially Alice when she’s doing her thing in the last act, they managed to convey her intensity just in her stare, which is tremendous.
Sadly, the lip-sync is atrocious.
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is a nice addition to the Sherlock Holmes Adventures series, adding a very good dose of family drama to the great detective’s stories, yet the inconsistency of Sherlock’s age and a host of minor issues keep it from being the new best in the series.
And it could’ve done with having many more cases, but that may be my endless hunger for mysteries.
4.5/5 – Amazing!