Welcome to EXPlay, (Explain & Play) the review series where we care not for scores but tell it how it is when it comes to every game we get our hands on, whilst also taking the time to include some lengthy gameplay, to give you the reader, the chance to shape your own impressions and views whilst watching and reading. In this installment, we’re covering Sherlock Holmes The Awakened by developer Frogwares.
Sherlock Holmes The Awakened: (The Explanation)
Sherlock Holmes The Awakened joins several other puzzle games by publisher Frogwares for the Nintendo Switch. Last year I did an EXPlay for Sherlock Holmes Crimes and Punishment which plays similarly. In the new game The Awakened, you start off in Sherlock Holmes’ flat alongside Watson. The two of you are quickly thrown into a small mystery that slowly doles out various gameplay elements teaching you how to play the game.
Each story campaign has three main parts. There is the investigation of the location or locations where you need to search for clues. After clues have been attained you need to ask questions from witnesses and pin certain clues to the main screen to then question them about the discoveries you made. Sometimes you will need to use Sherlock’s observation skills as you meet people to pick up on various clues like dirt on the bottom of shoes, rips in clothing, or other small nuances.
The third part of the main gameplay loop requires you to link clues, testimonies, and other pieces of the puzzle together in Sherlock’s mind revealing the motives, suspect, and backing it all up with evidence. This part plays out in the brain of Sherlock where you seemingly link neurons together with a satisfying sound once correct. Overall, this gameplay loop works, and is somewhat similar to the game L.A. Noir.
Aside from the gameplay loop which works, the game itself lacks an overall polish. In fact, the previously reviewed Crimes and Punishment seemed to have better graphics and character models than The Awakened. In my early EXPlay time, I met several characters all that had out of sync audio with lip movement and that uncanny valley dead eye look on their faces. During my second mission there was rain which only gave characters a slick sheen on their bodies and muddied the already low-quality graphics of the world of Sherlock and Watson.
There was one new bit of crime solving that Sherlock Holmes The Awakened had that I did not remember in the past game. This was the ability to use Sherlock’s imagination to put together the crime scene as it happened. By clicking into the small green glowing sections dotting the crime scene you could go through a few ideas in Sherlock’s mind into what happened. This does add another level of unlocking and showing you the crime but overall, it just seems like yet another element to pad out the mystery to be solved.
The Sherlock Holmes series looks infinitely better on other consoles and PC. And the port to the Switch leaves a lot to be desired. If you have a means to play the games on other systems, I would do that. But if you really want to play portably or only own a Switch you may get some enjoyment out of Sherlock Holmes The Awakened.
Sherlock Holmes The Awakened: (The Gameplay)
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Adventure, Puzzle, Action, Other
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: April 11, 2023 (EU & NA)
File Size: 5.7 GB