Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter ReviewPrice:
PC, PS4, Xbox One
Frogwares series of Sherlock Holmes games has lingered like a benign tumour in the games industry for a long time, not causing any problems, but not doing much to attract attention either. Then in 2014, Crimes and Punishments proved a surprise hit. Its lavish production values, greater emphasis on third-person play and innovative deduction mechanics catapulted Frogwares to the big time.
I personally haven’t played Crimes and Punishments, but the rave reviews for it left me curious. When it was announced that the follow-up, The Devil’s Daughter, would release this month I was intrigued to see how Frogwares would build upon the success of Crimes and Punishments. Could this, finally, be the game worthy of the world’s greatest detective? That truly let us feel what it would be like to wear the deer-stalker of the master sleuth?
I’m not exactly sure what happened, but The Devil’s Daughter is a terrible game, sporting some of the most inexplicable game design I have encountered in ages. Explaining why it is so awful is going to take some doing, so let’s get right to it.
Like Crimes and Punishments, The Devil’s Daughter offers the player a series of cases to solve, while gradually unveiling a broader story in the process. This time the tale is framed around Holmes’ adopted daughter and her budding friendship with a mysterious new neighbour. No doubt the fact that Holmes has an adopted daughter will come as a total surprise to anyone who hasn’t played the previous games in the series. As it transpires, throwing random elements into the game with little regard for the player proves to be a hallmark of the Devil’s Daughter design.
But first, let me deal with another major problem of the game – the depiction of Holmes himself. As I already mentioned, I haven’t played Crimes and Punishments, but I have seen videos and images of it, and Holmes both looks and sounds exactly as you would imagine him – refined, dignified, authoritative, intelligent, and just a little bit arrogant.
Yet for some reason, Frogwares have deemed to change both the character model and the actor for Holmes, and the result is, frankly, disastrous. Far from the standup Victorian gentleman you might envisage, Holmes instead looks like a sweaty tramp who hasn’t slept properly for his entire adulthood. He also speaks in this horribly clipped manner that sounds as if he’s constantly desperate to use the bathroom.
Consequently, it’s impossible to gain any pleasure from assuming the role of Holmes, because he both looks and sounds like an utter oaf. Watson too has been changed, now resembling an artisan coffee house owner from Shoreditch. Combined with the fact that Holmes frequently decides to assume ridiculous disguises, even for something as mundane as attending a bowls tournament, this means the Devil’s Daughter often has the tone of a comic farce rather than an intrepid and mysterious detective game.