We’re just a few short weeks away from the June 10 release of Sherlock Holmes: the Devil’s Daughter, the latest installment in Frogwares’ increasingly excellent series of detective games. While Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s shrewd investigator has always occupied a spot in pop culture, it’s only in Frogwares that the detective has truly gotten his proper footing in the world of gaming.
Yet, in a fiercely competitive summer season, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter might seem like an odd choice to nab your money on day one. However, just because this title isn’t backed by the muscle of an Activision and doesn’t have the marketing budget of a Call of Duty doesn’t mean this heady, experimental title isn’t worth your time.
More than any other game in the series, The Devil’s Daughter is a great jumping off point to get invested in a slow-burn series that will keep you immersed from the opening scene until the credits roll.
First thing’s first: get pumped. Frogwares is a studio that learns as it goes. With each new entry into the Sherlock Holmes series — The Devil’s Daughter makes eight for the studio — Frogwares has learned from their mistakes, tightened the mechanics, and improved the graphics levying their economic success into bigger and better voyages into the world of Sherlock Holmes. What began as stocky character builds in basic environments with The Mystery of the Mummy:
…has since blossomed into stunningly realistic crime scenes that capture the beautiful city of London at its most interesting and most dangerous.
More to the point, The Devil’s Daughter promises to be one of the most immersive games of the year, putting you inside the mind of the world’s greatest detective.
Take It Slow, Be Thorough
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter promises to be its own breed of adventure. That is to say, it hews closer to a slow burn horror film than it does to a typical video game which casts you as an officer (read: there’s little to no action). If you’re the patient type, however, the game has plenty of tantalizing secrets to uncover.
You just have to chill out and take it as it comes:
Every fact, every pertinent detail, is deliberately and beautifully rendered, shaping a story that is largely up to the gamer to discern. Be cautious, though, as it’s entirely possible to choose the wrong path and wind up victoriously fingering the wrong culprit.
That makes it especially important to consider each clue of equal importance, to listen to all of the well-crafted dialogue with extreme interest. In a Sherlock Holmes tale, you never know what will lead to the solution, so you’ve got to keep your eyes and ears open to make sure you’re absorbing everything.
What’s more, if you rush through the levels, not only will you miss pretty much the whole point of the game, but you’ll miss the lovingly crafted detail in the world of Frogwares Victorian London.
It’ll Help to Love Some Lovecraft
The good folks at Frogwares go gaga over some H.P. Lovecraft. Not only are they currently developing The Sunken City, “a game of investigation and mystery taking place in a fictional open world inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft,” but they’ve also paired Holmes with Lovecraft before in 2006’s Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened. In that title, Holmes ran up against some cultists who worshipped a fellow named Cthulhu.
In other words, Frogwares loves the Lovecraft tone, and if the trailer for The Devil’s Daughter is any indication, that tone will be in full effect in what Frogwares themselves have dubbed Sherlock’s “otherworldly adventure”.
Now, all that being said, it’s a Sherlock game, so you can bet that ultimately, everything will get a semi-rational explanation that reveals all the previous sorcery to be nothing but parlor tricks. That won’t make the aforementioned parlor tricks any less unnerving as you try to figure out who done it.
It’s Not For Kids
This isn’t Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes, folks. It’s the literary Holmes, the one that’s hooked on opium, incredibly dispassionate, and the grand high poobah of not giving a shit what you think. In other words, the content alone is probably not something you want to expose to your children.
Beyond that, Sherlock Holmes: the Devil’s Daughter is — at its heart — a puzzle game. It’ll require you to use not only your powers of deduction and observation, but your powers of creative problem solving as well. Not only is each case individually challenging, but each one adds up to a cumulative conclusion that requires gamers to draw knowledge from each case.
It’s engineered to be challenging for adults, which puts it kind of outside the realm of kid stuff.
Come For the Story, Not the Gameplay
That’s not to say that the gameplay isn’t stellar, but its value is really only heightened by the story itself. Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is an adventure game of the old school, which is to say that everything in the title is in service to the story. If you’re the kind of gamer who’s always waiting for the next explosion (and there’s nothing wrong with that), then there may not be anything for you in Frogware’s title.
If you want to puzzle your way through a tautly plotted supernatural adventure, however, then you should start counting down the days until June 10, when Frogwares unleashes Sherlock Holmes most ambitious case yet.