Sherlock Holmes: The Game is Afoot Review

Sherlock Holmes is one of those immortal characters who cannot be duplicated and is the permanent figurehead for his line of work. He’s inspired many with his cleverness and keen ability to solve the most complex mysteries, and real-world detectives probably wish they had his impeccable intuition. The character’s wit, pursuit of criminal masterminds, and charming old England setting all make for a fantastic setup for a game, and it’s a well of material that has yet to be properly tapped in the gaming market. Too bad this game does such a lackluster job.

The problem is not the cases; they are ripped from the pages of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brilliant stories. Liberties have clearly been taken to shorten them down to their most rudimentary elements, but the dialogue is elegantly paced and presented.

The main problem with this game is that it’s merely another hidden object and matching game. You’re given a piece of a case, and then sent to hunt for ridiculous objects such as a cucumber, giraffe, or ornament: all things that have nothing to do with the case at hand. Find them all, and the story progresses, but the disconnect is so strong as to be absurd.

There’s a reason “fun” isn’t on the list of things to find in this game.

If you’re not hunting for random objects, you’re comparing two images side-by-side to spot the differences. Even if the images are from locations that pertain to the story, the actual puzzle itself does not, again weakening any connection you might have to the story.

The visuals look good, as any still images should, but you are often required to zoom far in to spot some of the smaller objects. When you do, prepare yourself for severe graphical degradation. The images become so blurry that it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re looking at, which won’t help you spot the objects any faster. The objects are also usually either so large they are impossible to miss or so small as to only annoy you when you finally locate them. You can get as many hints as you like, which only affects your score for the case. Randomly tapping otherwise has no adverse effect.

Like the popular bar game.

Another problem is that you must be online to load a new case. Individual cases are downloaded, so if you’re on an iPod Touch and have no usable wireless signal, you’re out of luck. If you happen to really get into the game, additional ones are available for purchase, but we doubt that you’re going to care that much.

Holmes fans hoping for more of their favorite detective are better off checking out the new movie. The presentation and stories in The Game is Afoot may suffice, but the lack of meaningful integration of puzzles with the stories make this little more than a gimmicky hidden object game, of which there are already far too many in the App Store. Sherlock Holmes deserves better than this, and frankly, so do you.

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