This detective title focused on the titular character will have you trying to stop brutal killings that seem to connect to an ancient cult god that lurks from the depths — the one and only: Cthulhu. Will Sherlock be able to leave behind his past in Cordona, save many victims along the way, and form a stronger bond than those from his past?
As a preamble for the review, it's worth mentioning that Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is not a direct sequel to Sherlock Holmes Chapter One. Due to the war in Ukraine, which has affected Frogwares, the team has delayed their next open-world title in favour of a compact entry into the series. This is all a very convoluted way to say that Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened was not even planned. As such, this review will judge the game by its development conditions and time.
This new chapter into the Sherlock Holmes remake explores Frogwares' new take on Sherlock Holmes by amalgamating it with a previous title, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened (2008). In this experience, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson will tackle gruesome killings to raise Cthulhu, H. P. Lovecraft's notorious terror of the seas. These nightmare-like murders represent the first significant case that the dynamic duo will face, growing their bond forevermore by experiencing shared horrors.
Throughout the journey, you will take control of both Sherlock Holmes and John Watson to solve various cases that lead to the cult leader. The interactions between the two are relatively scarce at times, but the few that are present are very significant and emotional. With John Watson being one of my favourite characters, I was ecstatic to see this iteration and be able to watch him and Sherlock Holmes interact and grow closer.
Each major scene takes place either at the start/end of each chapter or in the middle when you'd usually see a character change. The moments that connect the two feel genuine and impactful, if not unfortunately scarce at times. The voice acting is still on-point, though Alex Jordan had fewer scenes to show off his skills than in the previous entry.
It's difficult to talk about the story and its pacing without giving any spoilers, so forgive me for my brevity, but considering Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is a relatively short title, I would rather avoid as many spoilers as possible. Throughout the eight chapters, you will be tasked with solving the crime present in that area and deduce from your findings where your adventures will take you next.
Gameplay-wise, this means that the game is short and concise. Although the expected playtime is 12–15 hours, I managed to finish it in 11 hours after reading every note at least twice (because I’m forgetful), despite how impressively long it took me to finish the original (46 hours. And no, I didn't 100% it... yet). Each case can be pretty straightforward, making it a simpler and more accessible version of Sherlock Holmes Chapter One while still maintaining a large part of its original charm via gameplay mechanics. The difficulty left some to be desired, but this is more of a personal complaint than a fault of the game — more straightforward cases in this entry means that more people can enjoy the title. Although the complexity of some of the puzzles were fairly disappointing, none of them were boring — they were straightforward at worst and great at best. Some were unique and inventive in ways that Sherlock Holmes Chapter One was unable to explore, while others brought the original's difficulty and complexity back.
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened puts a heavier emphasis on Sherlock's deuteragonist, John Watson, and this reflects itself on gameplay sections that were ever-too-short to satiate my John Watson craving but created an interesting turn in the gameplay perspective. Sometimes, the game will separate both characters, and you'll need to complete puzzles as both of them in order to be able to progress. Taking control of Watson was a fantastic addition, as both Sherlock and he can react to the same scene in some areas to get different perspectives; I just wish it had been done more often. It did leave me wanting for a multiplayer Sherlock Holmes game where both players get different perspectives — a gal can dream!
The levels are open-area worlds where you'll have to run around and solve the case at hand, with some loading screens when entering smaller areas, such as an inn. That said, each world is gawk-inducingly gorgeous, specifically the London ones. I did miss the side quests and collectibles from the original, as the linear aspect of the gameplay didn't give me much reason to explore the environments nearly as much as I'd hoped, but that's mostly a positive for the graphic design than a gameplay complaint.
For a game built in one year, the scope, length, and complexity of Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened aren't only decent — they're admirable. Despite being far simpler in terms of difficulty than Sherlock Holmes Chapter One, it is a good entry if you want to enjoy more of the lovable mechanics introduced in the first remake.
Sherlock Holmes The Awakened (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
For a title one year in development, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened impresses with enjoyable — albeit simple — puzzles, a fun story, and beautiful visuals.