I might not be a murderer, but apparently I can sympathize with them.
I finished Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments over the weekend, and it was a giant bucket of fun mixed with a new bit of self-awareness. I already talked about how each case ends with a moral choice—whether or not your want to condemn the suspect or let them go free. Fun fact: I let them all go free.
Now before I go any further, this post is going to be vaguely filled with spoilers. While I won’t say right out who committed each crime in the game, I will allude to the person’s motive, meaning it might be easy to guess who I’m talking about if you’ve played part of the case.
I’m going to explain my reasoning for rationalizing killing here for you now, case by case. Let the spoiling begin!
Case Number 1: The victim, Black Peter, is an abusive and angry sailor. He was not so friendly with his wife and had made a lot of enemies. He was a thief and a potential killer himself. The person who ended up killing him was coming to scare him and get back what rightfully belonged to him and ended up killing Black Peter in self-defense. By letting the killer off the hook, blaming it on an already-deceased sailor, you also get the opportunity to return what Peter had stolen to its rightful owners. When you turn the killer over to the police, you punish someone for a killing that was almost justified and Black Peter’s estate is seized by Scotland Yard.
Case Number 2: This is a case of a missing train that doesn’t actually end with a moral choice, only a tactical one. In case you know the case and are wondering though, I chose to make a political move instead of calling the police.
Case Number 3: Here a man is killed in a Roman bath with three men there. The victim, Sir Rodney, is your classic case of rich man who buys his way into recognition, refusing to let anyone else share the limelight, much less give it up to the rightful person. Considering my constant lamenting about how life isn’t fair, this didn’t sit right with me. Maybe I wouldn’t kill someone over it, but I certainly don’t blame the hardworking individual who did. The killer was the true mastermind behind the discovery that Sir Rodney was going to claim for himself. Who am I to take that away from him? Also his murder plan was fucking genius.
Case Number 4: Cue the death of another abusive ne’er-do-well of a husband. Cue another murder that was purely in self-defense. Cue my continued sympathies. Here the man was even willing to take the entire blame instead of sharing it with the other guilty party. I can’t go into more details than that without a full-blown spoiler, but this has to be the only time that getting away with murder is a gentlemanly act.
Case Number 5: I’m going to honest, I had a hard time siding with the person who committed this crime. After getting to know the character, I fully understand the motive. It was the only way he/she could continue an education, and I don’t know what I would do if my family had left me on my own with no choices but to rely on my wealthy colleagues. What made me hesitate in absolving this killer was how he/she had initially cut ties with his/her family out of embarrassment, but I live in a world where a family would take me back even if I pulled that kind of stunt; therefore I feel bad for anyone that does not feel the same.
Case Number 6: Here the killer is an outright thief. I only let him off because he never actually committed the crime, just let it two victims kill each other and ran off with the loot they were holding. The end of this case does not leave me morally conflicted in any way despite not being a real fan of the killer. This is because the greater choice comes at the end of the game, regardless of this choice.
You hear the Merry Men referenced countless times through this game’s cases, and Sherlock Holmes finally encounters them in one of the last scenes. He is waiting for them when they come to retrieve an elephant-sized load of gunpowder. Here you can choose to run them off and foil their terrorist plot or let it happen. You get enough of a look into the inner workings of the late-nineteenth British politics that you can agree that something needs to change. Here you presented with a choice: how far would you go to make a difference?
I really can’t wait to see if this choice is somehow worked into the next game. That would be another new idea for Frogware to work with. This game was already an experimental take on the series compared to past games. I can’t wait to see.