Reviews

Sherlock Holmes: The Devils Daughter – Review

Sherlock Holmes: The Devils Daughter – Review

PC, PS4, Xbox One

M

In the development offices of the new Sherlock game, two years ago…

“Hey, do you reckon we should start on this new Sherlock game?”

“Sure, got any ideas?”

“Well, I was thinking, what if we made Sherlock and Holmes look a lot more like Jude Law and Iron Man?

“Isn’t that film franchise kinda old now?”

“Yeah, but the fans will like it. Plus, the whole ‘stuffy old English bloke’ thing feels way too traditional. We really need to jazz things up to attract new players.”

“The sales have been a bit low.”

“Exactly. As for my second idea, remember how we gave Holmes an adopted daughter?”

“Which game was that in?”

“I dunno, one of them.”

“I don’t remember that.”

“Well, she’s there. So I was thinking about some hilarious situations we could put Holmes into, seeing as he is definitely not father of the year material.”

“Like what?”

“Like, whenever she asks his permission to do anything, he can only be a complete prick.”

“Don’t we want the player to have some agency, though?”

“Nah, we just give them three negative options. It’ll be too much work to create other story branches. The key is to make them feel like they are having an impact on the story, and then we lead them all down the one path anyway.”

“I’m not so sure, but you’re the main director and I want to keep my job.”

“Great. I’ve got other ideas too…”

“Shoot.”

“A tailing mission. I LOVE those in the Assassin’s Creed games. They’ve pretty much made entire games out of tailing missions.”

“How would ours work?”

“Well, we’d switch the player’s view to one of the street kids that Holmes keeps in check with penny-a-day employ. We’d have this guy you have to follow without being spotted who stops every ten metres to check behind and you have to hide behind boxes and wait and then follow him some more.”

Sherlock Holmes: The Devils Daughter - Review

“How long will this mission go for?”

“Like, twenty minutes!”

“I think that might get a bit boring. We’d need to mix things up.”

“Really? Um, okay, I’ve got it – how about we make it that there’s a street gang and the poor kid will get beat up if he keeps to the streets, so we get him to climb up onto the rooftops and follow the guy from there?”

“Like, with a ladder?”

“Nah, it has to be more exciting than that . . . how about . . . oh, I know, there’s this other poor kid, a chimney sweeper, being told off and you, as the original poor kid, jump in and offer to clean the chimney so you can get up to the roof?!”

“Why can’t you just find a ladder?”

“No, this is perfect, we can put in a chimney-cleaning mini-game! Holy shit, I can see it already. That will take up a good few minutes, especially if we make it really awkward and the player dies a few times.”

“Hmm. . .”

“It’ll be great, trust me.”

“Okay, what else have you got?”

“Well, what else does a ye olde gentleman do for social interaction?”

“I don’t think Holmes is meant to be very social.”

“Yeah but if we have him doing some kind of sport, say lawn bowls, then we could have a murder take place during the competition and then he’d have to solve it.”

“Seems a bit coincidental.”

“Have you never watched Midsummer Murders?!”

“Okay, so lawn bowls.”

“Yep.”

“Another mini-game?”

“You betcha!”

“We should probably give casuals the option to skip all our shitty mini-games, just in case they want to get to some actual clues, like we did in the other games.”

“Yeah, I suppose. Related to that, I had this idea for a really obtuse lock-picking mini-game.”

“Sure, why not.”

Sherlock Holmes: The Devils Daughter - Review

“And although we will have lots of humour in it, relating to the previous idea of Holmes as a helpless dad, we also need more action, so Holmes has to be a lot more involved in the action.”

“I’m almost afraid to ask. Such as?”

“Human hunting.”

“Human hunting?”

“Yep, we get Holmes involved in a case where the bad guys take poor people off the street and hunt them in the woods. I can already see another entire half hour of bland, frustrating action where the player has to run away from a guy with a gun who can shoot through any obstacles except the ones we mark as ‘cover’.”

“You’d need a stamina bar.”

“Of course, one that depletes super quick.”

“Shouldn’t we be focusing on actual clues and investigations?”

“Oh sure, we’ll keep all that. We’ve already got the apartment level to reuse, plus the police station. And we’ll keep the memory synapse clue system.”

“Does than need any tweaking. It was a bit awkward last time, a bit too binary.”

“Nah, keep it the same, save time. We could probably add something to that mini-game whenever Holmes meet a new character, though.”

“The one where time pauses and you zoom in on a person and look them over for little tells of personality?”

“Yep. Except this time, instead of automatically filling in everything, we’ll make the players choose between a couple of options.”

“Example?”

“Like, if a woman has a ring on her finger, we’ll make them choose whether that means she’s married or engaged.”

“But how will they be able to tell in order to make the right choice?”

“Oh, they won’t.”

“And then what, we tell them if they got it right or not?”

“Yep.”

“And if they got something wrong they can go back and change their decisions?”

“Of course not. Don’t be silly!”

“Hmmm.”

“Oh man, this game is gonna rock!”

“I’m not so sure.”

“I just had another idea: Holmes has to defuse a bomb that gets thrown through his window!”

“Sure, why not.”

Sherlock Holmes: The Devils Daughter - Review

“And we can have more of those parts where you play as the dog, tracking down scents!”

*Sighs* “U-huh.”

“I can’t wait to see the barely-animated characters solve these unoriginal mysteries.”

“I can’t wait for payday.”

“Batman will look like a cub scout compared to our investigations!”

“I don’t think so, although we came close to being really satisfying last game. I’ve got to be honest, this one isn’t sounding so hot.”

“Ah, pfft, you’re just not reading the audience right. We need to tweak the action and the hilarity, everything that Sherlock Holmes isn’t known for. How else will we snag some of that sweet CoD crowd?”

“I’m sure we could build on our small fan base if we concentrated on expanding the clue and conclusion systems, turning them into something truly organic, which we seemed to be aiming for previously.”

“Yeah nah, tailing missions, lock-picking, Holmes literally getting caught with makeup powder on his face and bombs through windows. Trust me.”

“Well, can we at least make the deductions a bit clearer, so that even if we allow the player to make the ‘wrong’ conclusion and possibly pin the crime on the wrong person, it’s not an arbitrary decision made through a shoulder-shrug guess rather than actual deduction?”

“Nah, let’s get to work on this awesome tailing mission.”

*Sighs*

Sherlock Holmes: The Devils Daughter - Review

Dylan Burns