Mystery Managed: Part 1

Mystery Managed: Part 1

In case you didn’t notice, I took the week off for Thanksgiving. I was barely around to play games with the extra hours at work to get ready for the holidays and then traveling. But lucky for you, your reward for waiting is my first new game since Dragon Age.

Way back when I bought games during Target’s buy two, get one free, I picked up the newest Sherlock Holmes game. I had heard that a lot of things were different in this installment in an effort to modernize the game. I knew they didn’t mean time period but still was not sure what this meant. Considering how easy it is to spoil these games with its mechanics tied so closely to its story, I didn’t want to look too much into it. Besides I enjoy even the most basic mystery game, so I didn’t even bother with a review.

But man, I was not prepared for all of the new elements this installment threw in. In past games, many processes were simplified, letting Sherlock Holmes do his own thing despite you being in control of him. Here Crimes and Punishments tries all sorts of new ways to make the player interact more with the crime-solving than normal. Gone are the bare-bones clicking and puzzling gameplay and a whole new variety of powers. Seriously, this game makes Holmes out to be a mutant superhero. Absurdly accurate deduction skills are one thing; seeing smells is a whole another virtual ballpark.

1. First, Mr. Holmes smells something he can’t quite recognize an suddenly the invisible aroma turns into an electric blue jigsaw puzzle. You have to rotate the wisps and rearrange the solid objects (i.e. pipe) until all of the jagged lines connect. Weirdly enough though this kind of puzzle seems more realistic than past games where everyone on the planet uses a brainteaser for a lock instead of a combination.

2. Sherlock Holmes also has a special talent with no need for a more specific name. Similar to the Detective vision in the Batman Arkham games, you can enter a mode where all of obscured clues are highlighted in orange. While acting a variation on the already-existing pointing-and-clicking, it does let you pretend you have the same set of skills as the great detective himself.

3. Last on the list of new features that let you get into character, each time you interview a new NPC, you can create a Character Portrait. By finding all of the defining details of the person, you can create a profile that could later come in handy. While the game does the hard work for you by highlighting points of interest and figuring out the real meaning behind what you find (e.g. yellow nails means heavy smoker), it feels good for yet another simple part of the game to be made interactive.

You’d never think you have a superhero simulator without any of the physical prowess, but this game sets Holmes up to be more than human. While in the past the world fell in line with his talent tree–people leaving incriminating evidence out that only he would find suspicious, logic puzzles being the only form of security, etc.–here Sherlock has skills that make a normal world work for him.

Now off to finish up my first case and create a more substantial analysis. Stay tuned.

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