Sherlock is back, but this time it’s more of an origin story. He visits his home island to put to rest some old feelings after his mother passed away. Along with Jon, his imaginary friend since childhood, he goes to his old home and tries to remember the details of his past. He ends up solving a case and is invited to join the police force as a temporary detective. You will need to explore the various city districts and put together clues to solve cases. This is his true passion and he’s a master at the craft. One distinct difference in this installment of a Holmes game is that there is a unique fighting mechanic. Another addition is being able to disguise yourself. Dress up as a specific class of citizens to learn more from them, otherwise, they might not talk to you based on how they perceive you. There is a lot involved in solving cases, but nothing is too difficult for Sherlock with the right mind-controlling him!
Here’s what I liked:
Sandbox Sherlock — The island you visit from your past has several districts. The world is yours to explore. You will be doing a lot of running, as you have no car to ride in. There is some fast travel spots to make this less of pain. Some side cases aren’t obvious, but you’ll stumble upon them. It’s a lot of ground to cover and the world is a beautiful one. Like in real life, there are classes of people. Disguises will help you talk to people to get information from them. A laborer might not talk to you if you are dressed nicely. Or some people will only talk to you if you look like law enforcement. You can either buy or rent (for free) clothes in order to complete certain cases. There’s just so much to do that it’s almost ridiculous. You won’t feel any slowdown as you are always completing different kinds of tasks. It’s a true sandbox game and came out the same time Assassin Creed normally does, but with no Creed released this year, I got a great game to run around older times with instead.
True Detective — To combat repetitive gameplay, there are several mechanics in place while solving a case. You will need to look for clues, question people, choose disguises, reconstruct the crime scene, battle enemies, explore a huge island, and follow trails. I probably missed a few things, but you get the idea. There’s a lot involved with the cases that can span multiple locations in different districts. You have a map of the island and no GPS. There are no guided waypoints. You must read what people say and actually pay attention. I loved every case and it was exciting to get to the solution. There are main cases and a lot of side missions to explore and complete. What’s really awesome is the final moments in a case where you decide who the guilty person is. You may not even feel great when you put someone away because you’re not one hundred percent sure if they actually are guilty. If you love being a detective, you won’t be disappointed with what’s in store.
You’ve Got a Friend in Me — Starting the game, I thought I was accompanied by the legendary Watson. He was always just there, and later I realized no one else could see him. This is because his name is Jon and he’s Sherlock’s imaginary friend. He’s always around to give you his second thoughts on subjects or remind you of things. At first, I did not like it. I don’t know why, but I just wasn’t a fan of the genius having some imaginary companion. After hours of playtime, my mind was changed. I now could not see the game without him. He provided a little comic relief as well as hints. You’re never alone and it’s like Sherlock has two minds, as if he’s so smart he needs a second persona to keep a balance.
Sleuth Shooter — A surprising surprise, there is a little battle system in a Sherlock game. You will face multiple enemies and you have a pistol. How you take care of the situation is up to you! You can kill them if you want, but not without hearing an earful from your imaginary companion. The other option is to arrest them. Doing so takes a lot more skill. You need to either blind them with your powder or use the environment to stun them. You still will be shooting, because you need to shoot off their armor first. Once they are stunned you can quickly arrest them. But you must follow prompts to do so or else you’ll fail the arrest. If you enjoy the firefights, you can find dens that house criminals. There is one in each district and you can fight to your heart’s content, completing challenges that unlock things like disguises. It’s actually pretty fun to fight, and not too easy, as you’re being fired upon by multiple enemies sometimes. If you get tired of solving cases, you can go shoot some faces.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Inbetween Street and Avenue — Sometimes it’s extremely hard to find your destination. You will be told that somewhere in between streets and you must go there and search for the location needed. It’s not always a problem, but there are a couple of times it was annoying. In one case I swear I ran around the same streets for an hour. Later, I loaded up a previous save and had the same problem (even though I had found it before). Also, the fast travel locations are very limited. I feel like they should have added more. For most of the game, I felt like I was running around, but I did find all of the treasures which took up at least 10 to 15 hours (there were no guides when I played). Finding locations was more difficult than solving the cases! I did not let this hurt my experience, I just embraced it since I was on vacation and time didn’t really matter!
I’ve played a few Sherlock games before and really enjoyed them. Chapter One has exceeded all expectations and made the bar very high for all future installments. It’s one of the best games I played this year! Being in an open world and solving cases is pure bliss. At least for people who like crime and solving cases. Don’t let the price fool you, this is a full game with tons of awesome content. It’s just a bonus that it costs less than the average AAA title. When it’s called Chapter One, it gives the impression there are more installments planned. But because technically it’s more of a prequel of sorts, it very well could be by itself and the name could just represent the timeline. I would be thrilled if there are more chapters, especially with the last scene of the game being so exciting. If there’s any indication this version of Sherlock will continue, count me in.
Score: Must Buy
Sherlock Holmes Chapter One was published and developed by Frogwares on Xbox One. It was released on November 15, 2021, for $44.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.