Review: Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles Game

No book review today, sorry, but I do have a review of a game based on a book (very loosely) so that’s kind of close… ish.

Image taken from Steam and belongs to them and Frogwares
Image taken from Steam and belongs to them and Frogwares

A while ago I bought a Humble Bundle with some of the Sherlock Holmes games by Frogware. I’ve seen a few playthroughs of some and have one on my iPad and thought they were a good deal as I love the Sherlock Holmes books and like to try pretty much anything to do with it. They’re all still on Steam and this one, Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles costs £6.99 here. It’s also available as a physical disc for PC for $9.95 (I can’t find a price in £) on their site here. It was made by Frogwares and was first published in 2010, which surprised me as I thought it was one of the earlier Sherlock Holmes games they did because of the graphics compared to their other games.

This story is based on the book of the same name, though when I say based it’s very loosely based and pretty much the only links are the characters, the Baskerville estate setting and the fact there’s a big black dog. I haven’t seen any playthroughs of this one so I didn’t know how close it would be to the book, though having played part way through the Awakened I knew there could be some supernatural style elements which always seem a bit out of place to me in Sherlock Holmes things but as I like fantasy it’s forgivable to me as it gives a new twist to the original story.

This game was released in 2010 so later than a few of the other Sherlock Holmes stories like versus Jack the Ripper which is the next one I want to play. Having seen them I thought there would be more animation in this one, it’s very static and the characters are simple pictures drawn without the 3D elements I’ve seen in others. The rooms themselves are also pretty static, it’s a simple picture and you can only interact with certain objects. It’s a case of finding certain clues and using the map in the bottom left to move around to the different rooms as you unlock them. A large amount of the puzzles seemed to be the hidden objects puzzles and you have to revisit the same area a few times on a few occasions so it felt a bit repetitive. The art reminds me a lot of the Gardens of Time style, it’s like a painting rather than being too lifelike. It’s nice and soft and easy to look at though it does make the game look dated with the characters being so static and just showing up at either side of the screen when they were talking.

I decided to go with easy simply because I didn’t know what this game was going to be and I’ve had puzzles in the past which have been so frustrating and taken so long that they make the game less enjoyable and as I was playing this as a bit of a break in coursework I didn’t want anything too challenging. I will probably go back and play it through in hard mode, mainly because I like to get all the achievements on Steam for games. There are a surprising amount of them, at least to me, and some are things like take over ten minutes for a puzzle as well as the more common ones like go a set amount of puzzles without skipping or finding X amount of objects in Y time.

As far as the puzzles go, aside from the hidden object puzzles, they were fairly simple and I only skipped the one which took me so long and was frustrating me. In the easy mode there is the option of skipping the puzzles and in the hidden object ones you can get a hint. The puzzles were all different and did make me think even with the easy option, though apart from the one they were easy enough to solve without them becoming too frustrating and less enjoyable and having to skip the puzzle.

The whole game is based in the Baskerville’s estate and you have to unlock the rooms of the various family members who have died. There’s a slightly odd supernatural element where you have to find the eyes to a wolf head in each of the rooms to go back in time to not long after the deaths of each one. There are also portraits of each of the family members in the main hall and you have to fill the crests under each one by finding the pieces in the different rooms. These then unlock an amulet which has powers that help you to find the other clues and objects in the rooms, another supernatural element. In the end this leads to finding the hound and solving the mystery.

Image from Steam so it belongs to them and Frogwares

This picture shows the interface infront of the main hall showing the pictures with the crests you have to find the pieces of and complete. The left has an empty shield that shows how many shield fragments you have and the five circles on the right show which of the amulet pieces you’ve found and which of the special powers you’ve unlocked. The blue space on the bottom is the inventory though I don’t think that many of the items found had much to do with the story, most were used by dragging and dropping onto another item in the scene and collecting certain things to do this.

The map in the bottom left of the screen is useful, though it did sometimes feel slightly cheaty when I was stuck on what to do as an exclamation mark shows on the rooms where there’s something to do. It did help me get unstuck a few times though if I forgot what I was doing between playing it. This may only be an option in easy though, I’m going to go back and play it in hard after playing some of the other games.

Overall this game wasn’t what I expected it to be and doesn’t really work for me as a Sherlock Holmes game. It’s nice enough as a hidden object game and with the other puzzles does give you a bit of a range or puzzles but it feels repetitive and there wasn’t any real deduction or clue finding in the game. It seemed to centre more around the supernatural and changed the storyline so much it didn’t really seem like a Sherlock Holmes story. He ending was also rather anticlimactic, there was all the build up about the hound and the ending was a bit of an easy way out to me.

If you like hidden object games and puzzles and that’s what you’re looking for then this might be worth looking at. I’d say that, to me, it’s not worth the £6.99 as I finished it within three hours which seems to be quick for a playthrough of a game. I will probably play it again to get the achievements but I don’t think that I’d do it more than the once more unless I still don’t get them. If you’re expecting a story true to the original book, or even close to it, then I’d skip this one. If it comes up in a Humble Bundle in the future or is in a sale where it’s only a few pounds then it’s a nice quick puzzle game, just don’t expect any deductions like in some of the other games or that much of the original story.

(All pictures are from Steam as apart from taking photos of the screen with a camera I can’t seem to take a screenshot. They’re copyright Frogwares and probably Steam too, I can remove them if you want.)

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