Review / The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes (PC)

How do you make a great puzzle game that keeps moving forward, while being broken up into small enough doses that a casual gamer can handle it? Why it is “elementary,” as the new Sherlock Holmes game from Legacy Interactive will show you.

I had the pleasure of playing The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes for PC this week and I have to say that it was addictive as heck. After I booted up, Holmes asked “Would it be too forward to ask your name?” After putting my name I was into my first case and the puzzles came flying at me.

The Lost Cases does its best to really put you into a Sherlock Holmes story. In fact it is the first computer game officially licensed by the Conan Doyle Estate, so those who have read the books or seen the movies can expect familiar faces from Watson, the doctor and Holmes’ sidekick, to Mycroft, Holmes’ brother in the secret service and, of course, Moriarty the criminal mastermind.

The game is set in Victorian London and all the places, cases and each atmosphere really does well to portray that. This is perfect for the puzzles and especially the hidden object ones because everything fits in as opposed to a room full of random illogical items. The only downside to the older theme is that the dialogue can be a bit…old. As are the graphics for dialogue, which are a bit out of sync.

The music is even from the era, which is cool at first; but after a while it gets old. Imagine playing Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and the only music is the Library stage’s track. Yeah, so I switched the music sound off in the options menu pretty quick.

There are 16 cases to solve. Each case starts with a narrative to open the story. Then you have to search the scene of the crime for clues. During this first “find the difference puzzle” often another puzzle will pop up involving a new clue. Some are lock puzzles or piecing together scraps of paper. Then each case moves onto another “find it” puzzle, where you actually have a list of what to look for. Again while looking another puzzle likely will pop up.

During each case you can find Holmes’ pipe, which you can use as a hint, as well as his signature hat. Find his hat in each case and you unlock a bonus chemistry puzzle at the end of the game.

When you find enough of each item or piece together clues Holmes starts listing suspects. At the end of each case you go back to the great detective’s home at 221b Baker Street. There the suspect’s pictures are arranged and you have to organize them in a sudoku picture puzzle. Then play a picture memory game to narrow the suspect to the ultimate culprit.

The cases are nice, but the best thing about this game is that the puzzles don’t stop. One moment you’re searching for clues in the museum, where a prominent archaeologist just went insane, and suddenly you’re having to decode a 3,000 year old scroll about a mummy’s curse. Other puzzles include anagrams, cryptograms, bomb diffusion and more.

If you like Sherlock Holmes, you’ll really get into the authenticity of this game. Enjoy classic characters and locales like the British Museum, Big Ben, Kew Gardens and the Royal theater. If you get into all kinds of puzzles, then you’re definitely covered here. Bottom line, at just $19.95 this is a puzzle game you shouldn’t pass up. If you’re not convinced, download the free demo right here.