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- Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter
Frogwares' Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series has been winding a merry path in the past few iterations. With Testament of Sherlock Homes, the developer sought to capitalize on the enthusiasm for a more ruthless, functioning sociopath version of the protagonist as played by Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC's Sherlock. With last year's Crimes and Punishment, they added the possibility of failure to the series, so that you must make the correct deductions from the clues and interrogations to complete the cases à la L.A. Noire.
In the upcoming game in the series, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter, Frogwares has added a new game mechanic to the mix: Sherlock's Imagination mode. Imagination mode clearly draws from the fight sections of the Guy Richie/Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies, where you get to see Sherlock's internal monologue as he sets his ingenious plans into action. Imagination mode puts that power into your hands, and in a first for the Frogwares series, made me feel like Sherlock is a total badass
In the live demo at a private meeting with BigBen Interactive, I was shown a successful run through of this mechanic—which you can also failed if you miss a step—Sherlock needed to distract a guard inside a dockside gambling den. This meant first examining the room and its inhabitants.
At one of the gambling tables, a close look at one of the gamblers revealed he was cheating by using a mechanical rig to feed him cards. Sherlock surmised that it might be possible to cut the wire from the button to the rig, causing the cards to spill and start a fight, distracting the doorman.
Nearby, a man sat eating food, with a knife plunged point first into the table, but Sherlock would need another step to distract the man to get his knife. At each step, Sherlock could imagine the way the events would play out as he manipulated the environment. Finally, when all the steps were in place, you could have him play out the scenario, where each main step was carried out in a stylish slow motion cinematic. Combat is elementary, Watson.
The Devil's Daughter is helped by the much higher degree of polish than the prior titles. Stronger visually than Crimes and Punishment, which was their first title on newer consoles, it really shows in the environments and characters—especially since I was told that Frogwares is still building the title in Unreal Engine 3. Sherlock himself looks way less plastic and an awful lot like a slightly greying John Hamm.
All in all, it's interesting to see how the titles in a hardcore adventure game series are evolving to adapt to not just gaming conventions, but the popular identity of the main character. Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter appears to be handling it quite well, pushing the game with new mechanics and refining the old ones. It will release on May 27th on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.