The Testament of Sherlock Holmes is an interesting game. There were more than a couple of puzzles that made me scratch my head, and actually think. I really enjoyed how the game has enough balance between gameplay and intelligence to make players feel like they are solving puzzles themselves. And in a game of this niche, that’s hugely important. Sherlock, though older in this game than he has been in other recent incarnations (like the BBC show Sherlock, or the Guy Ritchie films Sherlock Holmes and its sequel Game of Shadows), still retains his snarky wit, refusal to acknowledge the law, and other key components that define him as a character. Likewise, Watson was well developed, though too often he was pushed into the role of “tutorial” and made to look like a doofus to explain some basic functions of the game.
The game, unfortunately, had more flaws than it should have. Some parts truly felt incredible; the graphics are stellar considering the game was made in 2010. Scenes truly feel as dark and mysterious as the designers intended. However, on the other side of the coin, we see the reality of the game. The controls are clunky. I spent ten minutes jogging around a small room trying to accustom myself to the mechanics. With open-world exploration being more and more accessible in third-person gaming, this shouldn’t have been so awkward. But that wasn’t actually a big deal at all. I didn’t like how the item selection worked. I’m still not sure how it was intended to function, but I’d say a solid third of the time I spent with the game turned on involved me trying to figure out how to do something and not, well, solving anything. Mysteries are one thing, but when you can’t figure out how to set a book on a table, one has to worry about the functionality of the game as a whole.
And while the mysteries were certainly fun, doing everything they should, they passed quickly. I also wasn’t overly fond of how the game shoved weird minigames onto the player, like inspecting clumps of dirt under a microscope for clues. I discovered that if you sat there for long enough wondering, “What the hell are they asking me to do? I already learned that the dirt has sand in it, suggesting it originated near a riverbank, so why can’t I move on?” you’ll eventually be offered the option to skip that part, which was extremely enjoyable. All in all, most of what was good about this game could have been condensed into a film, with all of the frustrating controls left by the wayside. The game isn’t bad by any definition, but could certainly use improvement in more than a couple of areas.
In closing, I do have this to say: I’m a big fan of the Sherlock Holmes franchise overall, and I hope that we see future installments make the same leaps and bounds over their predecessors as this game did. Because this is easily the best Sherlock Holmes game to date, and I would love to see the developers start putting out titles with as much praise as Batman: Arkham City, Borderlands 2, or Kirby’s Adventure.