You are a gifted detective: ridiculously observant, intelligent, maybe even arrogant. A case appears, snivelling at your door. The streets of Victorian London lay as open as a book at your feet. The game is afoot once again, Mr. Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is a detective crime thriller that marks the eighth instalment in Frogwares’ popular series. The game follows five cases in which you will meet a selection of new characters. Each case is estimated to last roughly three – four hours and will involve you making a number of deductions and choices as each case unfolds. These choices will affect how the game ends, so with a currently unknown number of alternate endings, this game hints at the option for game-changing replayability. In addition, following feedback from the community on their previous releases, Frogwares have decided to include an easy mode of difficulty in the new game. Players can now select the easier mode (labelled as ‘Normal’) to reduce the difficulty, or Hard mode for a more challenging experience.
We managed to get our hands on the PC preview of The Devil’s Daughter and played it for just under two hours. At the event, we were shown snippets of one of the cases, where we first laid eyes on Sherlock’s adopted daughter, Katelyn, as well as a number of other characters that also appear later on in the game. Upon embarking on our own case, we met a young boy called Tom whose father had mysteriously disappeared. Before we knew it, we were out in the streets of Victorian London, using some of Sherlock’s best known talents to help us locate and scrutinize clues as we started to build a case.
The preview build began with a cutscene of Sherlock running through a snowy-looking field. A bullet is soaring through the air in a menacing trajectory. The bullet makes contact with flesh and the scene fades to black. The game then flashes back to forty-eight hours earlier and our case begins.
The case opens as we meet Sherlock’s neighbour, who drops off Tom. After questioning the boy, we find that his father has been missing for a few days. The boy is alone and has no family to turn to. From here, the case unfolds as the search for Tom’s father leads Sherlock to a number of locations across London, meeting a number of new characters along the way. As you meet new characters, you will begin to build a character portrait based on what you notice about them. Whilst talking to a character, the game effectively lets you zoom in on their physical appearance and deduce why they look a certain way or how that affects their personality. For example, when speaking to Tom, the game highlights that his eyes are red. Two options will then appear underneath and you will have to select which reason sounds more likely: are his eyes red from conjunctivitis or from weeping? If all of your deductions are correct, then your character portrait will be complete. If some of your deductions are incorrect, you will be notified that the character has an ‘imprecise character portrait’ and you will have to reassess your choices.
Whilst playing The Devil’s Daughter, we noticed how varied its gameplay is. Parts of the game will have you running from one location to the other which enables you to see certain streets in more detail and get a feel for the map. However, you are also able to fast travel to locations from the beginning of the game, which will save you some time (even though the loading screens are quite lengthy). Choosing to travel by cab will also provide players with a different loading screen to avoid subjecting them to the same image every time. Frogwares have included a mini-game which helps to break up instances where you are following someone or walking around for a long period of time. This is introduced early on in the game in the street, where you have the opportunity to walk across a plank of wood. Here you have to keep your controls (whether it’s the left and right analog stick on your controller, or WASD on the keyboard and mouse) within two circles that appear on the screen. If you fail to do so, your character will fall from the plank of wood and you will have to start again. As the game progresses, you will have to perform this balancing act in more dangerous situations, such as walking across a thinner beam at a greater height. You can also use it to eavesdrop on people in certain areas, such as listening in on a conversation between two men in a pub. Later on in the game, we were confronted with a lock-picking puzzle which encouraged us to test out a selection of tools until we found the correct combination to pry open a door. Having puzzles and small challenges placed throughout the game enabled us to focus on small details, much like Sherlock Holmes would, and also broke up some of the cutscenes to keep us constantly engaged.
Furthermore, you will come into contact with a number of objects that may help you in your investigation. You will be required to keep some of these as evidence, which you can refer back to at any time by selecting the evidence and documents tabs in the menu. Some objects are also fundamental for moving a case along. For example, upon arriving at 12 Dorset Street, Whitechapel (Tom’s house), we scoured the rooms and found a few objects that weren’t of particular interest to our investigation, such as a candle on a desk. However, when we went to check the attic, we discovered that we could now go back to the candle, light it and use it to explore the attic. Some of the objects that you find may also need to be researched in order for them to make sense within the case. In these instances, you can travel to Sherlock’s Archives to identify them. Whilst playing as Wiggins, we found a coat of arms that seemed to be quite important in our investigation. After heading back to Sherlock’s Archives and uncovering some additional information, we were able to place it with other evidence linked to the case so that we could use it later.
As we stated above, you will encounter a number of characters in The Devil’s Daughter, including old favourites such as Dr. Watson and Mrs. Hudson. However, there are a number of characters that you will be required to switch to and play as for certain portions of the game.
In the preview, we started the game in the shoes of Sherlock Holmes. The case begins in Sherlock’s office at 221B Baker Street. Players will have the chance to navigate around the office, clicking on various objects to hear a short summary of each from Sherlock. A make-up table stands in one corner and will enable players to change Sherlock’s appearance.
Using his abilities, we were able to follow the case as the famous detective, until we had to follow a mark. At this point in the game, we switched to the perspective of Wiggins – a young boy that appears to have worked with Sherlock in the past and is currently working as a paper boy. As Wiggins, we followed a suspicious gentleman to a mysterious location and gathered more information about him. Later on in the case, we were also able to play from the perspective of Sherlock’s dog, Toby.
We are currently unsure how many playable characters will appear in The Devil’s Daughter however, we can confirm that being able to play as other characters has opened up new ways to explore the game and definitely makes it more interesting to play. It’s not every day that you can wander around London as a dog and the shift in perspective, with the added option to select either first or third person makes the game feel more unique and immersive.
Sherlock Holmes is renowned for his ability to pinpoint tiny details and piece together intricate puzzles and events. This is brought to life in The Devil’s Daughter and you are now in control. As we stated above, you will need to build a character portrait for each of the characters that you meet. This will help you to understand a character’s personality and situation in more depth and could help if they are involved in a case that you are investigating. By pressing T on the keyboard, players can also launch Sherlock’s Talent which will cause everything on screen to appear in black and white. This mode enables players to see details that normal people would not and can result in Sherlock finding important clues. When it is necessary to use Sherlock’s Talent, the game will prompt you, so don’t worry about missing clues. In addition, there are a number of other features that have been included in the game to aid in your investigation, such as the ‘imagination’ feature (activated by pressing F on the keyboard). This mode helps you to find the correct order that events have unfolded in. By pressing tab, players can also view their casebook and their progress so far, or B to open their Deduction Space to view all deductions that they have made.
Moreover, when you play as other characters in The Devil’s Daughter, it appears that you take on new abilities. Whilst playing as Wiggins, we had to follow a mark along the streets of London. As soon as we started following him, a red bar split into four sections flashed up on the screen. We soon realised that if the mark turned and noticed us, the bar would build: do not let it reach the full four bars and do not lose sight of your mark for too long, otherwise you’ll have to start over. Luckily, Wiggins is quite short so as we followed the gentleman, we were able to use steps, carts and other objects found on the streets as cover. Along the way, we met a few obstacles and distractions including policemen that would block off certain roads and groups of children that would force us to find an alternative route. At one point, we had to climb a chimney, brushing away clusters of soot in order to reach the rooftops and find our mark before he wandered out of sight. We were even able to disguise ourselves as a boot polisher, where we were able to get really close to the mark and polish his shoes. Disguise appears to be quite an important feature in the game. Before we began playing the preview, we observed some gameplay footage of Sherlock disguised as a Pastor, pretending to exorcise a house of dark spirits. From what we have seen so far, it appears that players will be able to find disguises and wear them for certain cases. We are not entirely sure how this works yet, though.
We also had the opportunity to briefly play as Toby, Sherlock’s dog. When playing as Toby, the colours on the screen became quite saturated and dull (supposedly to reflect the fact that he is a dog and cannot see colour very well). At the time, we were following a scent found on a piece of cloth so a green wispy scent soon became visible onscreen and we followed it until it led us to a house. So far, playing as each character felt enjoyable and we feel as though playing from different perspectives makes the game even more interesting.
Minimum System Requirements:
These specs should allow the game to run under 720p resolution at 30 frames per second, with all graphic options turned off or set at minimum.
OS: WINDOWS 7 64 Bit/ WINDOWS 8 64 Bit / WINDOWS 8.1 64 Bit/ WINDOWS 10 64 Bit
Graphics Card: 2048MB 100% DIRECTX 11 COMPATIBLE ATI R9 270X/ NVIDIA GEFORCE 760 GTX OR HIGHER
DirectX Version: 11
Sound Card: Yes
HDD Space Required (Minimum): 20 GB
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter came as a bit of a shock to us. We have not played any of the preceding Sherlock Holmes games by Frogwares and our initial first impressions were anything but positive. Some of the game’s early cutscenes are genuinely laughable due to the over-exaggerated London accents, the audio being out of sync in places and just the general stiffness of the characters. However, once you are in the game, it’s very easy to get immersed. In the case we played, there was enough variety to keep you from experiencing the same thing over and over again. Yes, you may laugh at the cutscenes but you will want to stay for the gameplay.
Your immersion in the game is enhanced dramatically for these two reasons: the engine and the first person mode. Despite running on Unreal Engine 3, The Devil’s Daughter looks fantastic, particularly on a good PC that can handle running it at 60fps. In third person mode, the game brings the stiffness seen in the cut scenes right into the gameplay. Fortunately, the first person mode negates this completely, allowing you to really appreciate the amount of detail that has been put into the game’s world.
If you want to feel like a detective, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is definitely worth considering. With five cases promising around twenty hours of gameplay in a beautiful reconstruction of Victorian London, there are plenty of dark corners to explore and lots of clues to piece together. We can’t wait to play the rest of the game and look forward to Frogwares’ next string of announcements before its release.
Most Anticipated Feature: We’re new to the Sherlock Holmes games and would love to find out more about Katelyn and what happened to her biological father.