Sherlock Holmes Chapter One is a game that has me excited about its release. Truth be told, I have a bit of a soft spot for detective-type games. I have vivid memories of sitting on my grandfather’s knee at age seven, playing Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? on his Commodore 64 computer. Fast-forward a few years (too many to mention) and I still love playing a detective. I would get my fix playing Heavy Rain, Detroit: Become Human, and L.A. Noire.
I got the chance to sit down with Sherlock Holmes Chapter One for a few hours to see what it’s all about. Immediately, I could tell this would be a detective game unlike any I had played before. Developer Frogwares has created a great open world, set against the backdrop of a coastal Mediterranean town called Cordona. This is the childhood home of Holmes, and it feels exactly like what a fictional Mediterranean town set in the late 19th century should feel like. It has all the hustle and bustle of markets, side streets and citizens everywhere.
The town is separated into five districts, each with their own theme (mining, wealthy, poor, etc.). You can clearly tell which district you are in just by looking at the scenery, which is a testament to the work Frogwares has put into the design of the open world.
Graphically, the game plays quite smoothly at 1920×1080 resolution and had no problems running on my laptop. For reference, I am using the ASUS TUF Dash F15 which runs an Intel i7-11370H, with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070. Environments are beautiful and show the care put into them. Constant 60fps meant I wasn’t stuttering and jumping all over the map, and the fast travel system never pulled me out of the game for more than a few seconds.
The voice acting is very good for a game of this type. To be able to hear different inflections and inferences in tonality was shocking and incredibly welcome. It made the immersive experience that much better. That said, some dialogue with non-essential NPC’s can get a bit repetitive when they don’t have any information to give you. I must have heard the same set of lines a couple of dozen times during my playthrough.
Unlike most games of this type, Sherlock Holmes Chapter One breaks away from the “go here, ask these questions, go back and talk to this person”. It allows you to pursue the case in the way that you want to, at the pace you want to.
The developers have also put thought into the difficulty differences for this game. They’ve made it clear there is going to be zero handholding for the famous detective. You won’t get hints showing you what to do, or where to go, or who to talk to. To be honest, it felt like a breath of fresh air. I feel free to be as good or bad of a detective as I want. I arrested the wrong people, ignored evidence, and it didn’t detract from the experience.
“Sherlock Holmes Chapter One allows you to pursue the case in the way that you want to, at the pace you want to.”
Disguises play a big part in Sherlock Holmes Chapter One. Some people will not give you the information you need if you aren’t wearing the correct disguise, which is clever and intuitive. You’ve got to figure out exactly which one will get you the answer or information you need to allow you to progress with your investigation.
Out of the entire experience, I could only pick out one thing that wasn’t as good as I thought it could be: the running animation. When Sherlock runs, it looks and feels very exaggerated. It doesn’t seem like the way a person would run in real life and was distracting at minimum.
Overall, this game looks amazing. The town feels alive and could actually be a real place. I genuinely cannot wait for release. There is so much I want to see and do in Cordona and to do it with one of my favourite fictional characters is like something out of a dream.