Not a direct sequel but rather a different interpretation of Sherlock Holmes than 2014’s Crimes and Punishments, Frogwares and Big Ben now bring us The Devil’s Daughter. Here’s our review.
Over the years, there have been tons of Sherlock Holmes games – mostly on the PC but in the last few years we’ve seen the series make the leap to consoles as well. This has changed the formula for Sherlock Holmes games a bit, but it’s a change’s that’s been happening for a long time. Early games were classic point and click adventure games, and then at some point Frogwares went with a 3D approach instead. The biggest change in The Devil’s Daughter, from my perspective, is the influence that the movies in recent years have had.
I’m not talking about Mr. Holmes with Ian McKellen of course, but rather the Robert Downey Jr. versions. Less of a sleuth who carefully looks for clues and deduces his conclusions after careful considering, but more of an action hero meets 19th century detective. It’s always felt a bit removed from the source material for me, but as an action movie they’re fairly entertaining. Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter follows a similar pattern – it throws a fair share of action sequences at you (usually in the shape of minigames) amidst an otherwise classic Sherlock Holmes mystery.
Of course you’ll still spend plenty of time searching for clues and interviewing witnesses, so that you eventually end up with suspects. Once enough of these elements are in place, it’s up to you to start deducing what really happened. Connecting different bits of evidence and combining that with your own deductions, Sherlock will eventually have to point out who he thinks is the guilty party. The game is made up out of five different cases and one overarching story, and the developer claims that your decisions impact the course of the rest of the story. This sounds exciting, but seems to be true only for how the cases relate to the ‘main’ story, not in terms of how cases influence each other.
This is a shame, but such a dynamic would have been really interesting. Point out an innocent man in one mission, and he might not be able to help in another – or the real killer might make things more troublesome for you. During two playthroughs, we didn’t encounter any such drastic plot changes.
Another display of Sherlock’s deductive reasoning is his ability to piece together a sequence of events that unfolded by combining data you uncovered along the way. It’s a bit like how the recent movies “solve” cases in terms of how flashy and cool it is, but in the game it’s only triggered for you automatically at certain points. In other words, you can’t just pause for a second and hypothesize about what might have transpired whenever you feel like it.
What The Devil’s Daughter does really well is the way it delivers a diverse experience throughout all five ‘episodes’ or cases. This is done through the use of different types of scenes (looking for clues one moment, trying to escape an assailant the next) but also by allowing you to take control of different characters throughout the game. Each character will have a different objective, a different play style, and they all tie in nicely to the central story which focuses on Sherlock himself. The action sequences always feel a bit underdeveloped and couldn’t stand on their own, partly due to imprecise of oversimplified controls – but to a degree this is understandable considering how diverse the different sequences are.
If you’re a fan of the recent Hollywood interpretations of Sherlock Holmes then this is easily the best Sherlock Holmes game that’s come out so far. If you prefer a more slow-paced detective/mystery or are really serious about how well your action games play, then this might not be the game for you. Either way, the story in Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is an engaging mystery and fans of the series won’t be disappointed.