Sherlock Holmes Chapter One

“Sherlock Holmes Chapter One” is a prequel to a series of games featuring the iconic character, self-published by Frogwares. By David Reardon

“Sherlock Holmes Chapter One” is a prequel to a series of games featuring the iconic character, self-published by Frogwares. 

It’s a retelling of Sherlock Holmes’s origin story; the game takes an open-world approach, allowing the player to tackle a series of mysteries from multiple angles on the island of Cordona as Sherlock attempts to remember the circumstances of his mother’s traumatic death. 

Given the “Chapter One” subtitle, I was assuming this would be the beginning of a new franchise and narrative. If that is the case, there is no indication in the game that there will be a “Chapter Two,” so I can only imagine that Frogwares’s next Sherlock Holmes title will have little to do with this game. It seems to be an origin story for the sake of an origin story, and it wasn’t necessary. 

I desperately wanted to love this game, and there were times when I was genuinely excited to continue my playthrough, but there are some glaring issues that prevent this from being a truly enjoyable experience. Primarily, Frogwares’s policy of “No Hand-Holding” throughout the game made it almost impossible to complete. Certain aspects were acceptable; there are no waypoints on the map for quest objectives? Fine, most clues include street intersections in their descriptions that I can search for to continue the story. How about waypoints inside an area once I reach an objective? No, you must obsessively scan every room with a rechargeable ability that will tell you what you can interact with as you slowly walk back and forth throughout every corner. Oftentimes, the room was literally too dark to see the object I was meant to interact with.

 I was also frequently checking the “How to Play” menu to see what certain icons meant, as they determined how to find different clues. Not everything is bad! When I did figure something out, I felt like a genius. Turning clues into a web of deductions in the “Mind Palace” function was highly gratifying, but this feature is criminally underused. Frogwares sought to make a game that made the player feel like a real detective rather than a person playing a video game, but the experience felt too often like a chore. 

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