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Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments review for Nintendo Switch


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Publisher: Frogwares
Developer: Frogwares
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: M

Earlier this year, I was unenthused by Sherlock Holmes Chapter One. While there were plenty of things I disliked about the game, one of my biggest complaints was that, cosmetic changes notwithstanding, I thought it felt like every other Frogwares Sherlock game from the past ten years or so (not to mention their Sherlock-adjacent take on the Cthulu mythos).

While I still maintain that Chapter One wasn’t a good game, the port of Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments to the Switch shows that these games have actually come a long way over the past ten years.

For starters, as empty as the semi-open worlds seem to be in the more recent Sherlock games, at least they exist. In Crimes and Punishments, by contrast, you go from location to location by picking new spots on a map, and then you watch as Sherlock travels by horse-drawn cab. Since load times seem to last forever, you spend a lot of time watching him sitting in the back of those cabs.

And when you arrive at those locations? They’re all small and self-contained, and somehow feel even more lifeless than the empty city streets that populate The Sinking City or Chapter One. There are a scattering of people in each place, and if they’re not there to talk to you about the case, they’re basically silent and immobile.

Crimes and Punishments also moves at an exceedingly slow pace. While Sherlock here may be stylistically more in the vein of the flashy BBC/Robert Downey Jr. versions that were much more relevant when this game first came out nearly a decade ago, he still moves along at a snail’s pace. He walks with no particular urgency, he looks over crime scenes with a needlessly slow gaze, and the whole thing feels like a huge drag.

Perhaps most surprisingly, the deduction system here makes me miss the “mind palace” deductions you find in more recent games. True, the way it’s structured here is fairly similar – you pick up clues, then you try to put them together on a deduction screen – but it’s not nearly as nice-looking. Likewise, the puzzles in the more recent games are much more enjoyable; the ones in Crimes and Punishment, by contrast, are a lot more finicky – and it doesn’t help that you solve them at the same slow pace you do everything else here.

None of this is to say that the more recent Sherlock games are good by comparison – they still range from mediocre to bad. But playing Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, it becomes clear the series has continued to find new ways to be mediocre, even as they’ve evolved in some ways. It’s a so-so game from nearly ten years ago that now feels positively ancient, and you’re better off just ignoring its existence.

Frogwares provided us with a Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: C-