Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments Review (Switch)
Don’t be silly, you can’t hide from the great Sherlock Holmes.
Available on: Switch/Steam/Console
Genre: Mystery Adventure
As someone that love mystery stories and games, especially games where you’re put in the shoes of a detective (or detective-like), I was instantly down to finally picking up a Sherlock Holmes game when I heard Crimes and Punishment was releasing on the Switch soon. I know, crazy, the person that always says they move mystery/detective games never played a Sherlock Holmes game yet. Well, to be fair I played one before a long time ago but I found it so boring (I don’t quite remember which game it was just that I was so bored) and I have always wanted to play The Devil’s Daughter (and recently the most recent Sherlock game, Chapter One), but never got around to picking it up. Well now the universe aligned for me to finally get to fully play a Sherlock Holmes game.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment has you, you guessed it, in the shoes of the great detective named Sherlock Holmes. Along with Doctor John Watson, he solves various cases that happen to land on his lap or that he finds interesting enough for him to investigate. This game in particular has you go through six different cases, which don’t really have anything linking them together other than they were solved by Sherlock. You’ll be asked to solve murders ranging from someone that was discovered to be pinned to the wall by a harpoon to having a murder with no weapon in sight.
Once you start a new chapter, and thus a new case, you’ll be put right into the start of the new murder case that has found itself on Sherlock’s capable lap. You’ll get to hear the basics of the case and it’s up to you to solve the case and hopefully catch the real culprit. To do this, you will more or less have free range in the various locations you’ll find yourself going to throughout the game where you’ll be able to look for any clues in the area that might point to the culprit and investigate the body to see how the victim died. Sometimes, it might even require you to focus up Sherlock’s vision to spot certain well hidden clues (though there were a few times where I feel he didn’t have to as you’ll be able to spot it yourself easily) or use Sherlock’s imagination which basically reconstructs what most likely happened so you can see a visualization of it. The game will tell you when the game calls for it though so there’s no need to worry if you’re missing a clue and switching them on and off constantly.
You’ll also be tasked with talking to suspects or those that happen to be present. Most people that you’ll be talking to will give you a prompt to build a character portrait by looking and finding certain features that stand out. From there you’ll be able to ask them some questions and come back to them later if you gathered something that you can ask them, and there are some moments where Sherlock will notice them lying and you’ll have to pick what evidence you have that contradicts them after catching a QTE. There are also a variety of minigames that you’ll be doing as well, which mainly pertains with an experiment Sherlock needs to do for the case, puzzles, or just something to progress or to stop someone from killing another. These do help in getting you immersed in the case like being able to test if a theory is correct yourself, but you can skip these if you want. There was really only two minigames that I didn’t really like, one being early on where you arm wrestle one of the suspects (and trust me I tried), and I ended up skipping the later lockpicking minigame segments just so I could continue.
While you’re traveling between locations, Sherlock will be shown traveling in a carriage and the cool thing about this is that you can actually look at your case notes or go into his mind to connect clues and decide which of the two possibilities it is for deductions with two different possible conclusions. Granted, you’ll need to connect clues to actually progress at times, like get Sherlock to want to do an experiment to test a theory, but I still think it is pretty cool to include if you want something to do while waiting for your next location to load up.
Of course, when you gathered and did everything that you could, it’s time to deduce who the culprit is. This is mainly within Sherlock’s mind as the clues that you’ll be connecting to one another form into a node, with some of them turning into ones that have two possibilities that you need to choose which one happened. And well, you actually have a couple of choices from here. You can actually deduce that someone innocent did the crime as long as you have all of Sherlock’s nodes pointing to them to have him go to that conclusion. While there is a right choice, you can just pin it on someone else if you want (or if you thought it was actually them). You’ll also have a moral choice before proceeding which points to having them arrested and serve their time or pretty much let them go. Other than the alternate endings you’ll get for that case, you’ll really only get a letter on what you chose. Though, you can see if you got it correct before continuing to the next case and be able to go back to right before you confirmed the culprit if you got it wrong (or use it to see the other alternate endings without having to replay the whole case).
Though, I do feel like the ability to deducing multiple people as the culprit does have a negative consequence of evidence not strongly pointing to the real culprit enough to where you might not really feel like it ended in a satisfied way or feeling like not enough was really pointed at them being the culprit (the worst of this being the second to last case in the game). Some cases did well with you having to ignore evidence to have Sherlock point to the wrong person, but others had true conclusions that felt a bit too flimsy due to you getting enough evidence for each deduction to be correct. I still did enjoy going through the cases, but I would have preferred if every case had more against the true culprits and needed you to ignore evidence to choose the wrong conclusion.
Now, how does Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment play on the Switch? Pretty good actually. The game looks great, the characters and environment being as detailed as you see on other platforms, and I didn’t notice any frame drops while playing even when I was in the larger areas later on. I did notice some minor weirdness with certain textures, but that’s minor and the camera doesn’t tend to linger for long. The loading times will also be longer here on the Switch, but the only times where I felt it was too long was when it was loading up the next Case after closing your previous one and maybe a couple times when I was just traveling to a new location that had a cutscene right when you arrive.
Overall, if you’re looking for a great detective game that lets you do the deductive work, or maybe you love Sherlock Holmes as well, Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment would be a good choice. While being able to give multiple answers at the end of cases and still being able to continue despite being wrong does bring in its problems with some of the cases, I actually did enjoy playing through all the cases as I investigated the different locations, interrogated suspects, and helped Sherlock pick locks, do experiments, or solve puzzles to progress the investigation. It kept me interested until the very end and made me want to figure out what happened. Not to mention that it does play well on the Switch if you want to play this on the go or just want to lay back and relax in bed while solving cases.