|System: X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Frogwares||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: The Adventure Company / Focus Home Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 26, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
A far cry from the sparsely populated locations in past games, Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper is teeming with humanity at its worst. The night life along the streets of Londons East Side is populated with the type of folks youd want to run into in a dark alley, and youll be wandering through many shady spots filled with drunken hoodlums, homeless bums, prostitutes in search of clients, and other unsavory characters. The noticeably increased number of people milling about at all hours is a welcome addition, and characters look and sound as good as ever. Dark and depressing environments mixed with gritty characters greatly enhance the ominous tone of the adventure.
Gaining access to fresh crime scenes where the Ripper has left his latest victims introduces one of the games more intriguing new elements. Using your natural detective instincts and a magnifying glass, youll direct Holmes and Watson as they scour the body and the surrounding area for physical clues left behind and observances that can be used to shed some light onto how the murder went down. After examining each scene and paying attention to the verbal cues given by the characters, you have to lay out bits of information and select the right deductions from a series of connected drop down menus. Other peripheral puzzles are often tied into these investigations as well, and in some cases both gumshoes will return to a scene and re-enact the murder. These unsettling crime scene investigations punctuate the grizzly nature of your adversary and lead you closer to tracking him down. They also nicely change up the pace at regular intervals and play well into the overall horror-tinged atmosphere.
In contrast, the rest of the puzzles sprinkled liberally throughout Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper are pretty standard for adventure games. There are combination locks to crack, torn notes to piece back together, slide puzzle locks to solve, and codes to decipher, along with more obscure obstacles to tackle. As stalwart adventure gamers might expect, these puzzles range from reasonably difficult to downright inane. Whether youll enjoy the challenges set forth depends largely on personal taste and the level of experience with the genre. Though mostly familiar in design, the numerous puzzles are well integrated into the adventure. The more annoying element comes in the form of lots of fetch quests that are irritatingly woven into the space in-between the more enjoyable murder scene, puzzle, and dialogue interactions. As Watson, youre often directed to hunt down some obscure item from someone else before the person you need to obtain something crucial from will cough it up. Multiple layers of fetchery stacked upon one another further convolute the matter.
A strong joining of fictional Holmes flair with the Rippers horrific, real-life murder spree makes for some good storytelling and detective-driven adventuring. Some of the other additions help deepen the experience, while others would have best been left on the cutting room floor. Without being mind-blowing or particularly amazing in any regard, Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper is a generally good entry in the series. It doesnt advance the adventure genre very far beyond tradition, but hunting a vicious murderer and solving puzzles along the way is mostly satisfying.
CCC Staff Contributor