by FROGWARES; BIGFISH GAMES
Story: Hunker down at your flat at 221b Baker St. in London. The year is 1896, and Scotland Yard has called Sherlock Holmes with an urgent request for help. Along with Watson, you must investigate a peculiar crime – a young painter has been murdered and found rolled up in a remarkable Persian carpet. Explore scenes in order to find clues and reveal suspects. Use Police reports with interrogations and statements of witnesses in Sherlock Holmes: Mystery of the Persian Carpet. (Big Fish Sales Blurb)
Options & Main Menu: Both are basic but user-friendly. The Options contains a Gamma setting so you can lighten the Graphics up – I suggest you use it as they are very dark. You can also choose Timed or Untimed Mode – I recommend Untimed as the game-play is frustrating and very time-consuming for the first play-through.
Voice-overs: There are none. Instead there are information-loaded scripted conversations between Holmes and Watson, which are rather lengthy (and tedious) – especially at the end of the game. Voice-overs would make this quicker and more acceptable.
Music: Classical violin music that Sherlock might have played. Not too irritating as there are several pieces, but they do repeat several times during the game, so I suggest you turn it down so you can just hear it.
Desktop: There is the Help, Main menu, and Puzzle button at the top left of screen – in my version anyway. In the Walkthrough this Puzzle button is replaced by Map, Scotland Yard, and (I think) a 221b Baker Street buttons. A Hint button occurs during the game in each location so you can find the next move or item.
Tutorial: This is at the start of Play, is rather intrusive yet helpful. It is very necessary for a Novice player, and can save some floundering around for the uninitiated. You can access this info via Help during the game.
Graphics: Although dark as mentioned, they can be lightened by using the Gamma slide in Options. I also set my screen on Games as it has that facility, which was even better. They are good, relatively clear, with slightly subdued colour, and really suit the era of Sherlock Holmes.
Play Modes: Casual; Detective; Adventure. I chose Casual, and was very glad that I did.
Map: For those with the Map button, I guess you can access it at any time during the game to go between locations, or at least to do so when expected to. For those with only the Puzzle button, you have to wait until you have completed each location including Puzzles before the game takes you back to the Map to find the next site. It seemed to me that the only site you can access each time is the coloured one – the other sites have grey icons.
HOPs: These are all sihouettes/shapes of items, although when you mouse-over the shapes in the list box each item is named for you. This is a real help as most of the items you seek are very small!! This makes the item search really difficult and a strain. You can resort to the Hint – as I did a few times, especially during my first play-through. Some of the Hops are hidden in a zoom site and others require ‘tools’ to be used on them. There aren’t very many for each site – but it takes a log time to find them all.
Puzzles: These are mostly okay, and are worth trying. But there are definitely ones that need to be skipped immediately as they are of the unsolvable kind, and only increase the FF (Frustration Factor) tenfold.
Game-play: In between each location search you have to use the Lab Equipment to process the various pieces of evidence that you have collected. This is a little tricky at first, but once you work out how to process each type it becomes easier.
Tip: Just remember that some of them may need several different solutions applied to them.
You also have to then use the Deduction Board to link some of the evidence to some of the Suspects and the Murder Scene. This is also a little tricky, but trial and error and logic will get you there.
You then proceed to new Witnesses and new Suspects – reading their witness statements, and taking evidence off them using your Magnifying Glass. This all gains you new locations on the Map.
Player Participation: After the initial intro between Holmes and Watson, the Game-play settles down into its unusual format. The player is involved in all steps, except for the dialogues between Holmes and Watson that occur occasionally. At the end, when you have succeeded with your final Solution of the Evidence Board, H & W take over for a lengthy conversation informing you how the whole murder was committed and by whom. It’s rather tedious and you find yourself wanting to not bother reading it – even though it is the whole point of the game, which is after all, a game about the great Sherlock Holmes!
Satisfaction Factor: This is a shame. There must be a better way of concluding the game, one that involves the player right through to the end. It dissolves away most of the satisfaction in finally getting through the frustration of the difficult gameplay to the end, that wasn’t quite the end till you’d been told all about it. Resolution is very important. I point this out often. It’s just better if most of the resolution is actual game-play.
Frustration Factors: This occurs right throughout the game – in particular not being able to exit a location during the game if you can’t go on. You can of course go to Main Menu and Exit altogether, or you can press ESC which pauses the game. If you have the Map button etc at the Top Left of the screen, then you may be able to move back and forth freely. I certainly hope so. For those of you with the Puzzle button, bad luck. You just have to hang in there till you can find the missing items, and solve the Puzzles. Resort to Hint when you’re really stuck. And resort to Skip for the no-fun Puzzles.
Jud House 29/07/2017
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