Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

(March, 2013)

One of Dr. Watson's patients (although he calls them "clients" for some reason) is extremely upset by the sudden disappearance of his Maori "servant" who speaks not a word of English, has no money, and no friends in England. It seems several "foreigners" have gone missing in recent days. The local London police expect they'll return after a few hours or days at a local brothel. Sherlock Holmes is not so sure. He suspects the missing individuals have been kidnapped for a sinister purpose and he is determined to uncover the truth of the matter.

The storyline is not particularly interesting. It starts out okay but becomes too convoluted and way too long. We move from the original investigation in London to Switzerland then New Orleans, Louisiana and then three more locations. By the time the Switzerland portion of the game was wrapped up, I wished the entire game was over.

The graphics are crisp and clear, for the most part. The streets of London are stylishly rendered. The Swiss mental asylum is appropriately dark, menacing, and forbidding. The eerie cries of institutionalized patients, the twisting dungeon-like corridors, and the menacing staff all provide a stimulating atmosphere for Holmes' continued investigations. Dark scenes usually are brightened when Holmes lights a lamp, or there is another light source provided, such as burning torches.

The navigational elements are still a bit cumbersome but much improved from those of Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Persian Carpet or Sherlock Holmes: The Secret of the Silver Earring. Holmes is moved by placing the cursor on small footprint icons within the scene. He still blunders around a bit — into walls, corners, tables or desks — and gets a bit stuck but he moves well enough that it doesn't become a frustrating "game-ender." (And this time, he isn't being chased by a guard dog!) The scenes with chasing orderlies are played out in animated "cut-scenes" that the player merely watches and isn't required to maneuver Holmes about to evade pursuit. Still, I recommend saving the game at frequent intervals, especially if you've accomplished a complicated task or acquired a much sought after item, or held an important discussion. There is one other chase scene worth mentioning. Later in the game, Holmes will give "chase" to a thief. By chase I mean, the thief runs...Holmes ambles along at his regular snail's pace...and the thief waits for Holmes to catch up before sprinting off again. It plays out eventually. The thief leads Holmes on a merry chase over roof tops, through abandoned buildings, and around and over various obstacles. At one point I lost Holmes. Yes, lost him. The cursor and I made it over a fence but Holmes didn't. The ever patient thief waited nearby while I spent some considerable time trying to relocate Holmes and get him reconnected with the cursor.

Sometimes, Holmes needs to activate or combine two or more items to yield a useful tool. This is easier said than done in some instances. Knowing what you need to do and getting it done are two entirely different things. If you find yourself unable to accomplish a task that you feel ready for, it may be that you have missed something and it can be as trivial as missing a blood stain, a footprint, or a particular flower. If all tasks haven't been completed or certain items found to trigger a particular incident, you cannot progress in the game. As a general rule, if you are attempting to do the logical next step but Holmes and Dr. Watson are not cooperating (they won't go where you want them to or you can't combine a tool that you need) chances are you've missed something. Two examples. First, according to the strategy guide, at one point Holmes is supposed to look up a name and look at a photograph. The guide doesn't mention that you have to go somewhere else and do something else, very specific, before access to the name or photograph is triggered. Second, in another portion of the game, a series of examinations is supposed to trigger an animated "cut-scene." I spent a good deal of time wandering around checking the various locations for footprints, blood stains — anything I might have missed. Only through an accidental switch to first person POV did I see that the figure of Holmes was standing on the clue. In the third person POV, the cursor was not indicating that an action was need at that place. This happened at several points in the game. The character of Holmes obscured the hand shaped cursor or magnifying glass preventing me from seeing a vital clue.

Throughout the game, Holmes will rely on his tools; a magnifying glass and tape measure. Sometimes it is tempting to look at one footprint or blood stain and think you've seen everything. Save yourself time, frustration, and heartache. Look at every footprint, every blood stain, and every clue you are allowed to observe with the magnifying glass. Each one counts in getting you to the next portion of the game.

I think it would be nearly impossible to finish playing this game without making use of the strategy guide which is built in to this game. You may also need tips from other players on the forum or at least the walk-through guide. Both can be found online at the forum. There is a link to the forum when you exit the game.

Unless you are an experienced player, it is difficult to rely only on the strategy guide because many key steps are omitted in the descriptions of what to do next and/or where to go next or what to do when you get there. This guide is organized by various questions pertaining to playing the game followed by a series of partial answers which reveal more and more of the entire answer as the player clicks on each portion of the answer. It is designed so that the player may acquire as much or as little information about the task at hand as they need without spoiling the player's fun. As mentioned before, the guide does not always tell the player when an action (or several actions) must be completed elsewhere before the player can progress or complete a task. This is where the walk-through generally supplies more help. It attempts to take the player step-by-step through the game with special tips on exactly how to complete certain necessary tasks. The strategy guide does have the answers to the various puzzles. Again, a word of warning for less experienced players: the strategy guides are not without mistakes from time to time. In another Sherlock Holmes game, players who relied on the strategy guide's answer to a particular quiz question were frustrated when the game insisted they were wrong. A careful examination of the clues and choosing their own answer yielded a "well done" from Holmes for the correct answer. In this game, when asked for the next destination or other answer that the player is required to type out, remember that spelling counts! You must use the correct spelling. Close won't work.

One more thing; this is not a traditional "hidden object" game although some players refer to it as such. There are no sparkly marked hidden object scenes or HOGs (Hidden Object Game) as some player call them. I believe the current phrase many gamers prefer is HOS (Hidden Object Scene). There are hidden items you will need to find throughout the game but Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is more accurately deemed an LFG (Large File Game) adventure game. Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Persian Carpet or Sherlock Holmes: The Secret of the Silver Earring would also be more correctly described as adventure games. However, Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles combines both elements; the hidden object scenes and the adventure game play. Both types of games have puzzles to solve.

In Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened the puzzles are related mostly to opening locks via intricate codes. Some are quite intricate and challenging, and yes, frustrating. I had to consult the strategy guide for assistance on two of them.

The length of the game seems way too long to me. I felt I had played long enough once I successfully escaped, or rather, got Holmes away from the asylum. Little did I realize at the time that I was barely half way through the game, if that? The adventure continued in three more locations! Overall, the game was moderately interesting (again, demerits for the overly convoluted and uninteresting storyline) but fun and challenging to play. No doubt the player will become immersed, as I did, with the challenges of navigating Holmes and Dr. Watson through the adventure and the background story will just be dismissed as mildly annoying.

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is list priced at $ 9.99. I chose it for free after purchasing a requisite number of other games. The Full version of the game is 1.16 GB. There is no trial version available. The file is too large to be ordered on a back-up CD and must be downloaded directly from the game site.

There is a warning on the website about the game that probably bears repeating. "Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened contains some graphic content and mentioning of the occult."

Game System Requirements:

OS: Windows XP/Vista/7/8
CPU: 1.4 GHz
AM: 512 MB
DirectX: 9.0
Hard Drive: 2156 MB

Game Manager System Requirements:

Browser: Internet Explorer 7 or later

Link to: Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened

Copyright Over My Dead Body! 2013. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!

Return to Computer games reviews.

Return to Over My Dead Body! Online.