I’d never played any of Frogwares’ Sherlock Holmes games before. I didn’t think I’d enjoy them all that much. Still, I was offered an early preview opportunity to try the remake of Sherlock Holmes The Awakened. I stand fully corrected. The demo presents a sizable chunk of the game’s third chapter. And even though I got dropped in knowing nothing of the plot, I still found myself intrigued and invested. This seems to be an engrossing detective adventure that makes excellent use of the source material to make you feel like the title character. The game is afoot!
The demo began at the start of the third chapter, so I’m not entirely sure of the overall story yet. What I do know is that Sherlock and Watson have found traces of a mysterious drug and the bodies it left behind, so they’ve traveled to an asylum. The story begins with Watson posing questions to the doctor in charge, only for Sherlock to burst in and loudly claim to be someone he is not. This is part of the investigation. Watson remarks to the doctor that the man in question is absolutely dead, which leads to Sherlock getting detained.
Once in the cell, Sherlock is tasked at using his wits to not only escape from the asylum, but dig around and find out the truth behind mysterious events. He immediately has to use a lockpick to get out of the cell. The lockpicking mini-game is optional and can be skipped. It’s radically different from any other lockpicking minigame I’ve seen before. You have to look at the tumblers and use their height to make sure the lockpick segments are tall enough to get the lock open. It’s quite clever and it was satisfying when I opened a tougher lock a few minutes later, needing only a single adjustment.
Into the asylum
Sherlock Holmes The Awakened sets players on tasks to solve its mysteries. Sherlock needs to investigate specific areas, which moves the perspective to the first person to analyze various items. But then there’s his mind palace, which he can use to plan and deduce. At one point in the preview, an orderly blocks off the way forward. Sherlock uses the palace, which requires players to select the three correct choices from all the evidence that has been previously found. Once completed, he uses a metal tube to shoot a sedative at the orderly. This allows Sherlock to don the orderly’s outfit and take a closer look at a nearby cell block.
Deeper within, more investigations are necessary, which allows players to use environmental clues to link events so that Sherlock can deduce what has taken place. Eventually, Sherlock discovers a secret passageway. The progression toward goals feels natural. Sherlock Holmes The Awakened‘s UI does a terrific job of cluing you into what needs to be done next. Keeping discovered evidence in mind is key on navigating successfully.
When I reached the end of the demo’s content, I was left wanting more, as I’d only just found the means to open the locked door that barred the investigation. I’ll certainly be checking the game out once it enters full release, as I’d very much like to join Sherlock in unraveling the Lovecraftian mysteries that await further in the game. I really didn’t think I’d enjoy the demo as much as I did, but we’ll just have to be patient, as the game is set to release later this quarter.