Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter Review
Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was many things; a writer, a physician, a believer in fairies and the creator of the greatest detective in the world, Sherlock Holmes. Five of Holmes’ most intriguing cases have made their way to Xbox One for the pleasure of armchair sleuths everywhere, in Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter.
One of the key aspects of developer Frogware’s previous Sherlock Holmes games is that you are right at the centre of things – you are the detective and it is up to you to piece all of the evidence together. It’s your choices that determine how the adventure plays out. Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter doesn’t waver from this path one bit.
Detective games of the past have often suffered from rambling narrative and an overly-long play time.. Too long and you start to lose track of the story, and the evidence all becomes a blur by the time that you come to piece it together. Frogware have cleverly avoided this issue by introducing five separate cases throughout the game. Each case is just long enough to draw you in and make you care, but still short enough for you to get through all five at a brisk pace.
The Devil’s Daughter is set in a beautifully dark and atmospheric representation of Victorian London, with locations that are familiar, including Scotland Yard and the famous apartment at 221B Baker Street. Dialogue, too, is equally atmospheric, sounding as though it’s tumbled from the pages of one of Doyle’s own manuscripts. So convincing is the atmosphere created that you’re quickly immersed in the game, deposited on London’s grimy Victorian streets.
You won’t be spending that much time exploring those streets, though. You only have to find a few easily-spotted addresses before – for the rest of each case – you’re either investigating one location or fast-travelling to another. Fast travel is accompanied by a scene of Holmes, and his current companion, in a horse drawn taxi cab, and affords you the opportunity to check your casebook. Here you’ll find all the information relevant to the case you are working on. This can include any material pieces of evidence that you have found, and any dialogue that has taken place.
Certain pieces of evidence can be linked together on what becomes a canvas in Holmes’ mind, the images formed from neuron connectors. When you have linked enough bits of evidence together a scenario forms in Holmes’ mind, and it’s this that will help you solve the case. The ‘no right or wrong’ aspect of the game means there’s always an element of doubt in your mind – but then this is what makes The Devil’s Daughter a great detective game. You can only use your best judgment and hope that your instincts lead to justice for the guilty.
Being a great detective – the greatest detective – takes a little getting used to; until you hone your skills it’s easy to miss things. Sometimes overlooking the smallest detail can mean that you don’t have enough information to progress, and it can get a little frustrating as you go ’round in circles. Stay patient, though, and keep looking. Holmes, as befits a flawed genius, has a special detective’s instinct, and with the touch of a button you can enter this mode and highlight the small details that other people may miss.
You are not restricted to just playing as Holmes; you will switch between characters to get a little more information. Sherlock Holmes is not afraid to hire the children of the streets to work for him, for example, like the little birds of Varys. At times it may also be necessary to employ the nose of Toby, Holmes’ loyal mutt, to smell out something that you have missed.
And if you find yourself with a little free time during a case then you can return to 221B Baker Street and give Holmes a new look. Change what he’s wearing, the style of his hair and the beautifully trimmed moustache, along with the trappings and adornments that befit a 19th century detective.
One of the few downsides to The Devil’s Daughter is that there are many different mechanics to learn, and often once you have learned one, you may never need use it again. Clearly meant to represent the mercurial genius of the super-sleuth, it certainly adds variety, though abandoning techniques almost as soon as they are learned can sometimes feel a little forced.
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is a great detective game that will keep any armchair sleuth entertained and enthralled for hours. Once completed, though, there’s scant reason to replay – so unless you are determined to see how every possible decision could play out then this could well be a one-time wonder. But what a wonder it is.
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is available from the Xbox Store priced £44.99.
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