Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter Review - So Close, Yet So Far

Sherlock Holmes is one of my favorite characters in literature. I perfectly remember reading 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' as a teenager and being absolutely blown away by the consulting detective's exploits. More recently, he seems to be resurging into mainstream entertainment. A wonderful TV show and a couple of lovely movies starring Robert Downey Jr have instantly become fan favorites. However, through all of this, I've eagerly awaited for an amazing Sherlock video game to be made. I truly believe the series features every element needed in a great game. While 'The Devil's Daughter' fully nails the heart and soul of the franchise, some elemental mistakes keep it from reaching greatness.

Now, there are many things this game gets right, and it would be a sin to overlook them. To begin, I'd like to talk about Sherlock himself. In previous entries, developer Frogwares has worked with a rather cold and manipulative Holmes. But this time, our main character feels more human than ever. He has a daughter named Katelyn, and he genuinely cares for her. The bad guys have finally found a weak spot. He's vulnerable and emotionally open. Even if Watson is also present, there isn't a whole lot on his friendship with the world's biggest detective. Nevertheless, I sincerely enjoyed the father-daughter interactions. They felt real, thanks to grounded dialogue, solid voice-acting, and surprisingly fleshed out character models. Overall, having a different version of Sherlock was a welcomed breath of fresh air.

Moving on, let's talk about the storylines. The Devil's Daughter presents you with five different cases. Although the closing chapter slightly disappointed me, I thoroughly enjoyed the mysteries. Every story is full of rich details, fascinating individuals, and jaw-dropping twists and turns. From a missing person to a stolen Guatemalan calendar, the narratives are rich in culture and substance. A nice touch is the fact that every plot is part of a grander issue slowly building itself around you (no spoilers). I also quite enjoyed the way you interact with the crimes themselves.

Whilst it doesn't succeed as a complete product, this is a remarkable detective game. In order to solve the complex criminal puzzles, you must explore crime scenes to collect evidence, gather testimony, and interrogate suspects. Once discovered, clues are added to a "deduction board", a gameplay mechanic that allows you to link pieces together. It eventually leads to multiple deductions. Once deductions are connected together and depending on how you interpret the clues, you can have up to four conclusions. And you guessed it, only one of them is right. That means you can sentence the wrong person. Luckily, you're entitled to replay the ending of a case if you made the wrong decision. But whenever you make the right deduction or successfully find the culprit, you feel like a genius.

This is the part where the negatives come into play. While I do enjoy the way you handle the investigation side of things, I hated the interactions between the player and Sherlock. In order for you to feel like you're actually Holmes, you encounter an insane amount of mini-games while exploring the cases. Unlocking a door, forging a dagger, finding an address on a map, keeping your balance when walking on a plank of wood, restoring a mechanism, defusing a bomb, eavesdropping a conversation, etc. Mechanically, they all work differently! Even worse: with a few exceptions, they're all either silly, confusing or dull. After a couple tries, there's a button to skip the entire sequence, which tells me the developers probably knew they were going to be hit or miss. If they're going to be hit or miss, why have them in the first place?  Gameplay-wise, these unimaginative events constantly distance the experience from the sections it thrives at (detective thriller). During the process, the game partially loses its identity.

Finally, there are some major issues when it comes to presentation. At first glance, you probably wouldn't understand what I'm talking about. With decent visuals, you're presented with rooms full of detail. It manages to feel like a real place. Plus, you're be able to freely explore London's districts. That all sounds great, but things quickly go downhill once the game is running. There's a tremendous amount of pop-ins, persistent frame drops/stuttering, the occasional blurry texture, and interminable load screens. During my playthrough, The Devil's Daughter crashed twice. In a few words, it's a performance mess.

Verdict: The Devil's Daughter successfully carries the most important elements of a Sherlock Holmes property: an intriguing story, fun detective work, and complex characters. Sadly, it is all periodically overshadowed by annoying mini-games and severe engine issues.

The Good
- Fascinating Storylines
- Interesting Characters
- Solid Detective Gameplay

The Bad
- Tedious Mini-Games
- Massive Performance Issues

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