Sherlock Holmes The Devil's Daughter - Review

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Valery Aloyants
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A new adventure dedicated to the most famous investigator of all time has recently arrived on our PCs and consoles: Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter. The eighth title in the series developed by the Ukrainian studio Frogswares it comes with excellent innovations and ideas, but also with some grafts that seem to be inserted by force to try to vary the gameplay. What we get is still a good product, which in addition to having a good longevity, has variants that make it attractive also for replayability. So let's go to Baker Street and let's take a closer look at the game!

Poker of cases

The plot of Sherlock Holmes The Devil's Daughter takes place in a parallel way: on the one hand we will have 4 cases to solve, and on the other the main plot that proceeds step by step. The four mysteries (five, if we count the main plot which will be the fifth case added at the end of the fourth) are all compelling both for the events, for the enigmas proposed and for the variety of the topics covered. The mother plot will concern the adopted daughter of Sherlock Holmes, who will come to live in our house after the flooding of the boarding school, and who will inevitably be neglected and protected by us at the same time. During this time, the child will make friends and spend a lot of time with a young woman who has recently become our neighbor. Both for the compelling storyline and the variety of cases, and for the different possible choices, the replayability of this title is excellent. Unlike the previous chapters, this episode developed by Frogwares has a peculiarity: Sherlock and Watson are very similar aesthetically to Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, who in all probability freely inspired the team. In addition to the restyling of the protagonists, the game, compared to its predecessor, manages to show itself more dynamic and compelling, daring something more.

The benefit of the doubt

Let's start from the beginning: the plot of the cases that we will face in Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter will have a certain linearity, but once we have collected all the tiles, it will be up to us to reassemble the mosaic in its entirety. It will be us case by case to accuse the possible culprits, e we will proceed in the game even if the choice we have made is not the right one. In each of these, we will gradually collect clues, which in a "mental" screen we can combine with each other and obtain evidence: these tests will be interpreted by us, and will gradually join together to create a conclusion. There are many and different, and in addition to pointing the finger we will also have the honor of choosing the fate of the guilty (or innocent, if you are wrong) as a real judge.

It must be said, in any case, that the difficulty in the first phase (connecting clues to create evidence) is practically nil, since once found we can create the connections by trial and error. The game has two difficulty levels: the standard one, fairly guided, and the higher difficulty where “our detective skills will be put to the test“. Even if for at least a couple of puzzles the challenge has proved worthy, most of the puzzles that will be posed to us will be intuitive and more than solvable; on the other hand, they will be varied, brilliant in composition, and also pleasant to solve.

Last, but not least, we have the splendid dialogue phases, which go halfway from the interactive to the simple "multiple answer". During the dialogues we can, as always, select the topics to be treated before or after, but with the "clue" variant: if during our case we have found or analyzed a particular object, and our interlocutor tries to lie to us with a sentence, we will have a time limit to "object" and justify our interruption, confronting him with his own lie. It does not end there: all the important characters who have a fundamental role in the story, will have something to tell us about them simply with their appearance. While we talk to them, we can start a sort of "personal indentikit" by analyzing their clothes, objects, and personal traits, and to do this we will have to slide the camera around their body trying to identify them.. We will have a time limit that will run in slow motion to find them and sometimes choose between a double option (if the choices we make are wrong, the identikit will be defined as "inaccurate"). Are you thinking of Mary's analysis during dinner with Watston in one of the films? Exactly.

"Elementary" technique

The dynamic gameplay of Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter presents a good 50% of excellent gimmicks, but with the very marked downside of a technical sector that trudges. Why am I saying this? The title was not developed with a stellar budget, and for this reason the project of the development team had to respect both monetary and technical limits. The phases of exploration of the rooms and of the search for objects, places us in front of the functional possibility of choosing to our liking the view in first or third person (apart from some rare cases where it is obligatory). The objects with which we will be able to interact are highlighted with small circles, which will turn green if we have interacted with them in all useful ways.

The search for details will see in some situations the need to use one of Holmes' special abilities: activate a particular gray vision, in which some small details that otherwise we would not have noticed will be tinged with a golden yellow, and we will therefore be able to interact. Wonderful idea, but unfortunately guided: we can easily guess which are the places to use it thanks to the icon that will appear at the top right of the screen. Another very cinematic skill our detective has in The Devil's Daughter is "imagination": another special ability, which consists in reconstructing a certain event with the imagination, to actually understand how certain events took place (or will take place). Even if for this reason too we will see the tip icon appear at the top right, it still remains a brilliant and very appreciable idea that overshadows some technical newcomers (especially on aiming). Pad in hand, also in this case the skill of rebuilding the Sherlock of RD Jr. is recalled. Seeing is believing.

In addition to the search for clues, continuing in the game we will face the different phases summarized in mini games, like eavesdropping on other people's speeches, going from one side of an axis to the other, or other things. Unfortunately some of these, even if voted to vary the gameplay, they are forced into a context that in some ways does not belong to them. The movements of our characters (in some scenes you will not be in command of the investigator) as they walk are technically good, although in some phases they remain woody to the eye. Worst luck have been actions and interactions, where the physics and animations of a door opening, and the movement itself to do so, are long outdated. The areas to visit with free wandering are rather limited, and do not offer many interesting views… we therefore recommend that you use the beloved fast travel.

Faded portrait

As already mentioned, the main in the work of Frogwares they nestle in the technical realization which unfortunately causes the gears to jam on various occasions. To start with the graphics and details: those of the main characters are created with due care, as are the expressions, but we cannot say the same thing about the background characters. In addition to being slightly more square, we will pass by them hearing the buzz of their words, or actual phrases… but their mouths will never open! A decidedly anti-aesthetic oversight, which would make all lovers of graphic adventures grind their teeth. Even the settings certainly do not suggest a 2016 game, also thanks to the choice of the studio to use in The Devil's Daughter theUnreal Engine 3, which certainly could not offer much more. To make everything even more rusty, it is added an exaggerated loading time in location changes, not to mention the small black screen passages between the gameplay phase and the minigames. The sound sector could reveal some more surprises, but unfortunately, in addition to a well-made English dubbing, we do not find a localization for the voices. The soundtrack is mostly anonymous, while it livens up the situation in the action scenes.

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