Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Silver Earring Review

It's elementary my dear... We point and click our way through this Sherlock Holmes adventure.

Review by Tracy Bosworth
Published 8th September 2004

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Silver Earring

  • Developer: Frogwares
  • Publisher: Digital Jesters
  • Release Date: 3rd September 2004

When you think ‘detective’ you automatically think “Sherlock Holmes”, the well spoken detective from the 1800’s is a household name and is also responsible for numerous sarcastic comments (i.e. “no shit Sherlock?”) and annoying phrases such as “elementary my dear”, but naturally, this old fashion Englishman needs bringing into 2004 and thanks to the wondrous invention of the PC here he is, in his full glory and what’s more, you get to control him!

The game is set around a strong story line which sees the famous duo (Holmes and his right hand man Dr. Watson) invited to a party at the fabulous ‘Sherringford Hall’ and rumour has it that the host, Sir Bromsby is to make an important announcement regarding the future of his business. The party has only just begun when, after addressing the guests Sir Bromsby falls to the ground suffering from a gunshot wound to the head and leaving the burning question “who done it?”, well it’s clearly a case for Sherlock Holmes and his partner in crime (or solving crime!) Dr. Watson.

The game immediately places you into the role of Holmes as he begins his investigation into Bromsby’s murder but throughout the game you can change to Watson at various points and as you would imagine, both characters take on different types of work. Armed with everything a good detective would be expected to carry including a magnifying glass, test tubes and tape measure Holmes must investigate every nook and cranny within 40 different locations searching for clues and evidence which may aid his inquiry.

Normally in a point and click adventure the ‘clues’ are extremely easy to spot but with the Silver Earring this isn’t so, you are expected to notice faint footprints in the ground, bits of dust on furniture and even human body hair in bathrooms! Finding these little treasures is not as easy as you would imagine. So once you think you’ve covered everything and the game refuses to allow you to continue it can become a daunting task of pointing the mouse cursor over every inch of the environment in the hope that you uncover something new.

Naturally a huge part of the investigation includes speaking to witnesses and this is where the game becomes tedious. As you approach a character in the game you are given a number of dialogue options to use in the conversation, almost all of the characters bring up the same questions and deliver long and boring answers in return and if that’s not bad enough, you are expected to go back and re-question the guests whenever you uncover a new clue or piece of evidence, its highly infuriating trying to work out which guest is relevant to which piece of evidence and what makes its worse is that you cannot move on until everything that can be done in that area has been done. This can lead to you questioning the same old boring guests and highlighting every little inch of the area until something new comes up.

Along with the general investigating you are also expected to work with the evidence that you have collected, for instance when returning to Baker Street after gathering information at Sherringford Hall you must read up from books, carry out tests on whatever you have found by using a Bunsen burner, a microscope and various chemicals. You are also expected to piece together bits of information in the form of a quiz at the end of each chapter. This part of the game, although very original soon becomes tedious requiring a good amount of time and patience to sit there going over everything you’ve just done, this includes reading through notes in your notebook and analysing conversations you have had with witnesses, unfortunately after the first time, this becomes nothing but a chore. As well as the analysing of evidence, testing of substances and general investigations the game also throws a number of puzzles your way which aim to stop players in their tracks, the puzzles are implemented well but can be frustratingly difficult making any progress an even more tedious task!

When all is said and done, Sherlock Holmes and the Silver Earring could have been a good game, I cant be the only one who loves piecing together bits of evidence in order to come up with my version of the truth and how many times do we sit there during a movie swearing blind that we ‘know’ for a ‘fact’ who the killer is? Unfortunately though for the less patient among us, The Silver Earring makes detective work a boring job, the witnesses have nothing interesting to say half the time and tend to babble on in the most boring manner and the quiz at the end of each chapter is enough to make you want to give up completely. If the sleepy game play wasn’t bad enough the actual speed of the game is another thing to frustrate you, for instance approaching a witness can trigger off an unnecessary action sequence which sees a man take a sip of his drink, slowly place the glass down and then turn to face you in slow motion and on top of that, should you click a door for Holmes to enter through you are forced to watch him slowly walk across the room to eventually reach it.

It isn’t all bad though, the game is easily controlled solely by the mouse with the left mouse button controlling movement and action and the right mouse button bringing up your ‘control panel’ which stores your inventory and diary (which also houses your map, conversation records and other important information). The games graphics too are excellent with 3D lifelike models representing the world of Sherlock Holmes. The environments too are nicely detailed and realistic with perfectly created Victorian locations doing their best to portray the time period of the game. As with the game play though, there are problems with the visuals for instance during cut scenes it seems as if characters are practising ventriloquism with minimal mouth movements whilst speaking and as already mentioned, the slow action sequences just make you want to get up and walk away until its finished.

On the audio side the game features a mix of classical soundtracks which do fit in nicely with the actual game creating that classy atmosphere often associated with a certain Mr. Holmes. Voice acting is decent enough but the accents in the game will cause you to either laugh or cry! Holmes, as you would expect features the very overly posh ‘proper English’ accent our teachers all wanted us to adopt. With the less fortunate characters adopting the stereotypical rough cockney accent that any cast member of Eastenders would be proud of! It’s not a major problem but the silly accents do get on your nerves after a while, especially during long conversations.

So, what is the evidence? Well, my good sir, the game manages to portray the Sherlock Holmes world fantastically with fitting locations, classy characters (and those that wish they were!) and an excellent opportunity for budding detectives to prove how good they are. Unfortunately there is a downside the game is incredibly slow in everything it does from the cut scenes, action sequences, conversations and actual game progress. The Silver Earring requires patience, a genuine interest in who actually killed the victim and the motivation to stick with it until you get to the bottom of the mystery, if this sounds like you, you’ll find enough here to keep you happy.

Review Score: 6.6/10

Please note, this review was scored using our old system. For more information please see our review policy.

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