It was only elementary for Big Fish Games to bring one of Frogwares’ best point-and-click adventures to the iPad with the release of Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened. Originally released on PC back in 2006, and then remastered in 2008, this new tablet version (based on the 2008 edition) includes just about everything that fans enjoyed from the original game – minus the infamous Creepy Watson. While it’s not without faults, there’s plenty of great exploratory gameplay here for those who enjoy a good mystery or want to check out one of the best entries in this popular genre.
In a thrilling mystery worthy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s eternally famous franchise, The Awakened sees our heroes Holmes and Dr. Watson taking on supernatural elements, it’s up to you to help the duo face off against a ruthless Cthulhu cult that is murdering people all over Europe. Of course, this involves you searching for clues and talking to people for answers that will either lead you in the right direction – or to your doom if you’re not careful.
The new touchscreen controls are fairly simple, yet flawed. You can switch between first and third-person views. In the latter mode, you’ll move around by simply tapping on the screen where you want to go, and double-tapping will cause your character to run. In first person mode, you can place your thumbs anywhere on the sides of the screen in which your left makes you move while your right changes the direction. You can also tap on objects to either investigate them or pick them up to add your inventory, while solving puzzles or conducting thorough investigation of clues will sometimes feature a combination of tapping on and dragging items. In first person mode, you’re able to better see your surroundings and search for clues a lot more efficiently, but things look a bit boring in this view.
Third-person mode tends to give the game a more exciting feel, as you’re able to see your character and what he does at all times, with the catch being you’re limited to what you can see on the screen. Both modes feature slightly sloppy controls, however, as the third-person view will sometimes switch to an awkward camera angle that’ll throw off your sense of direction, while first-person controls feel slippery. This will lead to experimentation between the two often while playing, as one mode can be more cumbersome than the other while investigating or just interacting with other characters you come across.
For a game originally released back in 2008 (and to be remastered at that), it looks like the graphics have been scaled-back for the iPad, as though you’re playing a slightly upgraded PlayStation 2 title. At least the infamous ‘Creepy Watson’ issue that plagued the PC version (YouTube it for some laughs) has been fixed and the sounds are spot on, as all of the voices fit the characters perfectly, from Holmes stoic but intellectual tone to Watson’s supportive one.
Another gripe I had is that some of the puzzles can be a tad frustrating to figure out, especially when most of them offer you no clues on how to proceed. A perfect example would be when investigating clues from a crime scene backat Holmes’ study, where you might have to pick off a sample of something and mix it with certain chemicals to analyze what it is. Luckily with this version as in the remastered one, there’s built in strategy guide that you’ll most likely find yourself consulting often. There’s also no kind of online mode, but for a $6 title that’ll keep you playing for hours on end, I can understand.
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, while not without its faults, is one of the better point-and-click games I’ve played on the iPad. Those who played the original release will want to see this new version, based on the 2008 remastered edition, as it remains one of the best games in Frogwares’ lineup and translates surprisingly well to button-free tablet gaming. Besides, who wouldn’t want to control Holmes and Watson as they match wits against supernatural forces? Despite its outdated graphics, tough puzzles, and some slightly cumbersome control issues there’s plenty of brain teasing, mystery solving fun to be had. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then it’s only elementary to check out the game that’s afoot here.
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Big Fish Games