Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter Review: The game is afoot!
After recently devouring Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, I was eager to play pretty much every single Sherlock Holmes game available — especially if the Frogwares name was slapped on it. So when Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter was remastered for the Switch, well… who wouldn’t want to get their hands on it? After all, this new iteration was supposedly picking up where the 2014 title left off, so playing it should feel like a new and improved yet comfortable and familiar glove, right?
With an opening like that, I know I’m setting myself up for a more critical sounding review, but I don’t mean it that way — truly! I’m of the opinion that we can never have too many Sherlock Holmes games and I welcome them all, but some are just… you know, better than others. And while I want to give Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter its own fair shake, it’s clearly modeled after its predecessor in some pretty logical ways in addition to some other directions that really made me scratch my head. When I ended my review of Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments craving more of the same, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter made me realize I should be careful what I wish for (but like, in the absolute kindest possible way).
Let me explain.
For those who have played Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter will look familiar in plenty of places. All the major sleuthing mechanics are back, such as that tunnel vision where clues seem to sparkle and the observation mini-game where players will need to look a person up and down to pick out identifying features like wedding rings and patched clothing. This kind of gameplay made the 2014 version extremely hard to put down, so I was absolutely delighted to see this not only return, but even built upon — with two difficulty settings, players can either take their sweet time as in the original or race against the clock to collect all clues before the timer runs out.
Additionally, it’s not enough to simply notice a highlighted area, but make the appropriate connection — does a lame arm mean an injury or a birth defect? Do blood-shot eyes mean lack of sleep or recent crying? Instead of relying on a computer to solve this for players, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter forces players to make those logical leaps themselves, which I genuinely loved (even if I felt forced to start over a time or two for an incorrect guess).
Speaking of improvements, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter allows players to more freely pound the Victorian England pavement, which I positively adored. The fact that I could open up the front door to 221B Baker Street and actually walk outside was marvelous and definitely missing from earlier versions. I can’t tell you how much time I spent just wandering around, looking at people playing chess, doing chores, and other little slice of life details. I daresay players will find it hard to keep focusing on the mystery at hand because they’re too busy exploring 19th century London on foot.
With all that being said, I do have a few gripes about Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter ranging from questionably subjective to definitely objective. Starting with the subjective, I found the font choice to be a distractingly dated step down from the 2014 version to the point where I genuinely questioned which game was released first. In addition, I thought it was odd that the game was supposed to pick up where the last one left off, but both Holmes and Watson look noticeably younger (in my humble opinion, I miss the older, debonair Sherlock while this Watson got waaaaay hotter). The changes weren’t just surface level — the formerly cool as a cucumber sandwich Sherlock is practically an emotional hothead in this version, seemingly ready to come to blows with Watson over his adoptive daughter and even *gasp* comforting her at times.
More objectively, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter’s pacing is perhaps too choppy for the standard murder mystery affair, forcing players to take on the roles of the sneaky street urchin Wiggins and trusty bloodhound Toby far too many times and for too long. While playing as Toby was an occasional necessity in the earlier title, it was for the very rare short burst; here, both Toby and Wiggins overstay their welcome, their segments frustrating further by shoe-horning in mini-games like keeping balance while tiptoeing across London’s rooftops to clearing chimney soot before suffocating to death. Coupled with jarring load times mid-step in certain areas, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter was initially not the act I expected to follow what came before.
Note that I used the word “initially,” as in, over time Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter unfolded into something truly awe-inspiring. All can be forgiven in a mystery game if the story is a good one, and I’m happy to report that core gameplay and detective narrative blend perfectly yet again. I can’t pinpoint where exactly I fell in love all over again — be it the seriously stunning scenes to the ever entertaining dance of discovering clues and connecting them together in the mind palace — but I was able to get over a lot of the subjective stuff and enjoy the game for what it was after the first case. Although the slight performance issues (and better opportunities for spectacular screenshots) might make for an argument to grab the game on PC over the Switch, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is not one to miss, so be sure to play it any way you can.
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is another triumph by Frogwares, who continues to do justice to the world’s most famous detective. If you didn’t pick up this series of sleuthy stories back in 2016, consider this your sign to get it on the Switch in 2022. If you’re ready to really walk a mile in Sherlock’s shoes as you hit Victorian London’s streets for clues, fist fights, and, you know, vibes, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter can totally come with you on handheld mode.
Final Verdict: 3.5/5
Available on: PC, PS4, XBox One, Switch (Reviewed); Publisher: Frogwares; Developer: Frogwares; Players: 1; Released: April 7, 2022; MSRP: $29.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter provided by the publisher.