Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper

January 7, 2010 by Susan Taylor  
Filed under PC, Reviews, Xbox 360

Overview

 

Title: Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper

Release Date: 26th May 2009 (PC) / 26th Nov 2009 (EU Xbox 360) / TBA (NA Xbox 360)

Developer/Publisher: Frogwares / Focus Home Interactive

Genre: Adventure

Platform[s]: Microsoft Windows (PC), Xbox 360

**Please note: I am reviewing the Xbox 360 version of this game**

Storyline

 

The year is 1888, the location is the East End of London. An evil madman is running loose around Whitechapel, preying on women of the night and murdering them in cold blood, mutilating their corpses in the process. The police are turning over every stone in the area, but the elusive Jack the Ripper keeps slipping through their grasp. It is up to the famous Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. John Watson, to unmask the fiend and put an end to his dastardly deeds.

Gameplay

 

Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper can be played in either first-person mode or third-person mode. I will admit that I groaned upon starting the game and being faced with this hellish, zoomed out third-person view that I knew would see me repeatedly talking into walls and missing doorways by metres. I internally jumped for joy  when the option came up, through a handy tooltip, that by pressing X the camera would change to first-person mode. Phew! I played the whole game in this view and would definitely recommend it, but it is all down to personal preference and I am impressed that Frogwares put some thought into how people like to play their games.

Unlike other games within the crime genre, Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper steps outside of the point-and-click domain and offers up a nifty little adventure game which sees the player taking control of both main characters and wandering down the streets of London seeking out clues. Throughout the game you will face different tasks and challenges which requires you to play as either Sherlock Holmes himself or as Dr. Watson.

A Sherlock Holmes game would not be complete without puzzles and you will not be left disappointed. You will come across skill puzzles and a lot of logic ones; from fixing a broken pipe to cracking a safe by translating Yiddish to English, from learning how perfumes break down to mastering a rather trick sliding puzzle! I found these puzzles to be very entertaining and some of them requiring me to sit back and really give the objective a good think before attempting to tackle it. No doubt there is an extensive walkthrough online for those who find the puzzles a tad too difficult.

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One of the most interesting factors about Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper is the way the developers chose to handle the gruesome reality of the murders. For those who are not away of the truth behind this game, Jack the Ripper was an evil murderer who took great pleasure in mutilating his victims in the most gruesome manner – This included abdominal/genital and progressive facial mutilation and even the removal of internal organs (a kidney, more than one uterus and even a heart). Frogwares rightly decided to keep in the gory details behind each murder and even allows the player to inspect each crime scene in detail. The smart decision on their behalf was not to present the victims in a vulgar manner, but to have Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson inspect detailed “chalk drawn” images of the poor women, which can be inspected quite closely.

As this is a Sherlock Holmes game, there is a lot of deducing to be had! Holmes likes to be thorough in his investigations and throughout his home at Baker Street you will find the place getting more and more overwhelmed with timelines to put together, storyboards to complete regarding each murder and even a board for possible motives! This game really has it all!

Graphics

 

The visual side of this game, while not overly impressive, does not lack in a way that would cause someone to shudder in despair. While the characters are quite wooden-looking, especially when it came to their speech, the environments definitely make up for this. While walking the streets of Whitechapel, you definitely get the feel of London in the late 1800’s.

Not to mention the eery feeling creeping up the back of your neck as you wander down a dark back alley all by yourself..

Audio

 

The musical score of Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper is very well suited to the time era and overall theme being portrayed, lots of piano and violin scores. I found the music certainly adds to the ambiance of the game.

I am definitely on the fence when regarding the voices of the characters themselves. While I realise that Sherlock Holmes is a man of science and thus holds a rather cold exterior, the voice behind the character is very monotonous and he shows absolutely zero emotion throughout the entirety of the game, even when he is clearly upset. Watson, on the other hand, was voiced rather well and I found his character to be very likable in the game. Although, his puking scene was a little overplayed. Learn from this Frogwares!

The other voices in the game were quite typically Upper Class vs Cockney, with a bit of Yiddish accent thrown in. I found some of these to be quite believable, whereas otherwise were totally cringeworthy. Especially the man outside the brothel, yeesh! Grow a pair of balls man!

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Overall & Replayability

I scored this game quite high as it was a real breath of fresh air when compared to other games within this genre. You weren’t confined within X rooms with just a point-and-click action as your only means of playing the game. I enjoyed the fact that Frogware mixed fact (being Jack the Ripper tale) in with fiction (being Sherlock Holmes) and found the two complimented each other extremely well. As a huge Jack the Ripper buff I was very excited to see how the writers interpreted the tale of England’s most notorious serial killer and was pleasantly surprised to find just how well they had researched the history into it.

I would recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of the crime genre, likes point-and-click games or is a fan of Sherlock Holmes or even Jack the Ripper.

If only there was going to be a sequel.. Sigh!