The announcement that Crimes and Punishments: Sherlock Holmes would be part of this month's Playstation Plus Instant Collection was wonderful, despite my skepticism. I'm a pretty big fan of Sherlock Holmes, but had very little hope for Crimes and Punishments because I held doubts about the translation of such an iconic literary figure to interactive media.
Would the game read like a script, where the player is simply driven to a specific conclusion through forced, linear clues? How far can they take it before the player is just floundering, wandering around aimlessly looking for answers? Also, would it rely on Batvision-type clue hunting? Crimes and Punishments ultimately earned itself a silent debut and, upon release, received an immediate price drop from retailers like Gamestop courtesy of a 'scratch-off' game. All of the hallmarks I, and many others, typically avoid as a consumer.
It is a shame, too,
This latest interactive adventure is enjoyable for fans of the character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes and Watson tackles six independent mysteries in Crimes and Punishments, each of which allows for the player to draw multiple conclusions based upon the clues and dole out the respective punishments. Clues can be obtained through numerous methods, from inspecting evidence and 'profiling' suspects to conducting experiments and utilizing Sherlock's talents. Players must then visit the 'deduction' area, which is designed like a Hollywood portrayal of a brain's synapses, after obtaining clues in order to draw connections between them and come up with a person's motive or opportunity. After a culprit has been identified, whether correctly or incorrectly, the player is then given the option to condemn the criminal or skirt justice. The ability to punish or absolve those in moral gray areas is a nice touch that provides the illusion of a freedom absent in so many games. Players are also given the option at the end of each episode to revisit their decision before continuing to the next episode if they are unhappy with the outcome.
Crimes and Punishments is not without its faults. A slow paced game is to be expected from a Sherlock Holmes title, but the pacing feels excessively slow as the result of the game's lengthy loading screens. Crimes and Punishments may not be on the same level as Herdy Gerdy loading times, but the loading is extremely frustrating when one considers there are only a handful of areas are being visited in each episode. Another major drawback is that the puzzles in this game are rather simplistic, the hardest of which are some of the later lockpicking mini-games that feature sliding tumblers. Players who get stuck on a particular puzzle can easily skip it after a few seconds with no penalty.
Major technical issues and puzzle simplicity stifled a lot of what Frogwares tried to accomplish in making the premier interactive Sherlock Holmes experience, but the six episodes in Crimes and Punishments will ultimately make fans to feel as if they are truly revisiting the world of Sherlock Holmes with new cases. Holmes fans, detective novel junkies and even light puzzle game enthusiasts should undoubtedly investigate this title.
Crimes & Punishments: Sherlock Holmes (65/100)