Sherlock Holmes’ resurgence into popular culture has seen a growing following of Frogwares’ games exploring the adventures of the fictional investigator; but is the latest installment, The Devil’s Daughter, something that gamers should unravel?
The standout thing about the Sherlock Holmes games is that they’re different, but relatable enough for those more invested in other genres to still have a crack at. This isn’t an explosive, edge-of-your-seat experience, but rather a slower-paced, more cerebral affair through late 1800s London.
The result is a fantastic change of pace from the shooting, climbing, and explosions of most other titles on the market (which aren’t bad things, but can be fatiguing at times). The Devil’s Daughter follows the formula of past Sherlock Holmes games, albeit with some new gameplay tweaks and tricks.
You poke around a series of impressively detailed environments for clues and interrogate witnesses. Then you leap inside Sherlock’s mind and piece what you’ve gathered together. And it’s entirely possible to jump to the wrong conclusion and accuse the wrong person if you haven’t found all the evidence. This is the game’s greatest strength, giving you some genuine agency over how the case unfolds.
The criminal conundrums are the best part of the game, testing your problem-solving and deduction skills as if you were the famed detective himself. Some cases takes massive leaps in logic, but for the most part, they require some lateral thought and are highly satisfactory when solved (or at least when you think you’ve solved them). However, it’s clear that the developer Frogwares wanted to make The Devil’s Daughter the most cinematic game in the series, and it pays the price for it.
These cinematic action sequences are littered throughout the experience, and force you into button-pressing mini-games in order to win a bar-fight, dodge an obstacle, or climb a chimney (don’t ask). While some work (like a timed pick-pocketing sequence), most of them feel out of place and awkward, leaving you having to replay segments and breaking the immersion created with the case-solving portions.
The design of the game is slightly mixed too, with some environments and character models looking fantastically detailed, but the game does suffer from some technical setbacks, such as awkward controls, iffy animations, and long load times. None of these are game-breakers, but they do prevent The Devil’s Daughter from being something truly spectacular.
Even with that said, it might not have the big production value and polish of some of top-of-the-shelf titles, but The Devil’s Daughter offers a level of cognitive complexity, freedom, and decision-making that is rarely seen in games these days.
If you can withstand some of the small shortcomings, there’s an incredible amount of fun to be had with The Devil’s Daughter, making it a must-play for those looking for something different this year.
Review originally published on MenStuff.co.za.
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