Charting life's circuitous path

Review: Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened

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Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened


Photo from Amazon

Key Stat Requirements:

The game requires the minimum of nVidia GeForce FX 5200 with a recommended 2.2 GHz Intel P4 and 1 GB RAM.  Trust me when I say that I wouldn’t have wanted to run it on anything less.  We have a 2.6 GHz and the 5200 and it still ran like it was dragging its feet.   Our video card needs an overhaul, but it seemed to handle this game just fine.

Beginning Observations:

My hubby and I like to play PC adventure games together.  Prior to this game, we had already played the previous 2 Sherlock Holmes games (the exceptions being Jack the Ripper and Arsene Lupin).  Neither were worth writing home about.  The first game had a horrible interface (made you nearly sick to play) but an okay storyline and the Silver Earring was okay (too much talking and not enough investigating but we got through it together).  We had read up on reviews for The Awakened and, at the time, the reviews were pretty positive (not to mention this game was the first with an M rating – always a good thing in my book when it comes to Adventure games).


Just look at that opening menu! Doesn't it look promising! Creepy...

The plot sounded intriguing:

Inspired by the works of author H.P. Lovecraft, this globe-spanning saga of suspense and horror pits the master sleuth against his most dangerous foe yet – a fanatical cult seemingly devoted to ancient, evil god Cthulhu.  From Baker Street to Bale, Louisiana to Scotland, hunt for hidden clues with the help of faithful companion Dr. Watson, solve fiendish puzzles and thwart the forces of darkness.

I have read a lot of books, but I have no idea what H.P. Lovecraft’s novels are like.  However, seeing as how this game seemed modeled after a potentially strong plot (something sadly missing in a lot of adventure games as of late) it sounded promising.  The images on the packaging also suggested that you’d be playing Holmes in a third person environment (another element that I like).  So, after shelling out $20 at GameStop in 2008, we installed it and awaited the “epic 3D adventure”.

Warning – Spoilers Ahoy!

Overall Response:

I’ll let the fact that it took us about 2 years or more to finish this game speak for itself.

I’ve been on a PC Game Spring Clean spree as of late (having finished Art of Murder FBI Confidential and Frankenstein – both games my hubby baled out on) and wanted to get this game off our system.  I had been sporadically coming back to it over the years since I kept up the optimistic thought that “it just might get better” (I should really have learned by now that things rarely do).  My hubby had given up on it long ago when the sheer boredom of it all got to him.  So, I sat down last night determined to finish this game once and for all.

Overall: this game is DULL.  For an M game, one would expect excitement, a bit of gore, and certainly a sense of menace.  This game delivers empty streets (in London!), flat scenery, horrifically difficult and tragically simple puzzles, and a terrible interface.  There is a bit of gore, but it’s all done for “shock value” and isn’t done well.  You also never feel threatened by what’s happening around you, so any of the grisly scenes are relegated to background scenery.

The plot is okay, if a bit crazy – many years ago a rich and “noble” man gets tossed overboard during a storm and is rescued by some crazed, ritualistic Cthulhu worshipers (you know how these things happen).  He’s converted (or brainwashed, as Holmes suggests) and goes about trying to gather together the necessary items for “calling forth the great god” and destroying the world.  These necessary items are 1) a selection of willing sacrifices (read: drugged) from every country and 2) the right bit of spot to do it all from (which happens to be this convenient Egyptian themed lighthouse in Scotland).  He’s able to persuade others to follow along with his plan until we come along and thwart it.

Characters wondering why you're wasting their time.

BTW, Watson is the striking chap to the left.  He follows you around everywhere but is completely useless as support.  The most he does is say “What do you make of this, Holmes” and leaves you wanting to push him into the swamp in Louisiana.

Game Play

For one, the game is not in third person but in first person.  This means that you play Sherlock and you walk around scenes as Sherlock.  This would be okay if the game didn’t require you to be nearly nose deep into a clue before it triggered the appropriate cursor.  This would be okay if the game didn’t insist on giving Sherlock a rollicking gait that made you ill if you were playing on an empty stomach.  This would also be okay if the game made some sort of distinction between your role as Sherlock and Watson when it swapped (you feel like the same character all throughout).  As it is, the game fails on all counts.

Another thing is that this game continues the “let’s pick your brain with a quiz” routine that they established in the second game.  Every so often, Holmes will drill Watson for an answer and when he does, you’re unable to look at any of your menu items.  For the most part, this is okay since the answers can be fairly obvious.  On the other hand, it keeps you stuck on a screen trying to guess at the right turn of phrase that Holmes will accept (at one point I tried at least 5 different ways of saying the answer before he finally took a response).

There's an example of one of the diabolical puzzles that I didn't waste time doing.

Your menu holds your items (standard setup with combine function), dialogues (not really useful), documents (pretty useful and necessary), reports (not useful), and map (which has jump spots which can be very useful).

You’re also supposed to be able to

Interact with over 60 mysterious characters and hundreds of clues and objects.

I think someone got a bit excited with their counting (or they were so bored that they stopped counting and just went with a good number).  You do interact with characters, but generally on a very limited basis.  They typically just grunt at you (most are “foreign” or “deranged” so they get away with having characters speak gibberish) and the only objects you can interact with are ones important to gameplay.  You spend a lot of your time trying to find that last clue carefully hidden in some remote crevice that you didn’t think to shove your nose into.  The scenes are not immersive in any way.

A Positive:

Yes, there actually is one.  One good thing about this game is that it does stay true to the plot (even though the plot is crazy and flimsy).  You aren’t distracted by useless tangents and the puzzles all work towards the end goal.  Would I have liked a bit more life in this game?  Certainly.  The empty streets, sparse scenes and limited conversations made this game difficult to get up the enthusiasm to finish.

Rating: 1 Star

In the end, the actual game play squeezes any life this plot might have had right out and you’re left with a really slow and tedious game.

Author: iscribbler

A girl scribbling her way through health, love, food and life.

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