The Testament of Sherlock Holmes Review

A grim storyline, challenging puzzles, and atmospheric visuals make The Testament of Sherlock Holmes one of the legendary sleuth's greatest adventures.

Sherlock Homes has never been more gruesome. The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, the sixth installment in developer Frogwares' long-running series of adventures starring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's celebrated detective and his sidekick, Watson, kicks off with the discovery of a mutilated corpse. It then proceeds through suicides, another mutilated corpse, poisoned dogs, an autopsy, an opium den, and a generally desolate atmosphere that is a long way from the drawing-room mystery style of this usually all-ages franchise. It might not be the best of the line, given the very high bar set by Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened back in 2006. But the macabre plot, severe characterizations that show Sherlock as an antihero, and lovely graphics combine to make this a mesmerizing adventure.

Testament is not for the faint of heart. One of the first clues you have to examine is this severed thumb.

The basic style and setting of Testament are similar to what has gone before in Frogwares adventures. You take on the role of Sherlock Holmes as he investigates a new case, with odd diversions into the shoes and paws of other characters, such as associate Dr. Watson and even a hound dog (not the high point of the game). The story is considerably darker than the stories of previous games in the franchise, however. Where predecessors mostly chickened out on the gory stuff--even the Jack the Ripper game released in 2009 hid the serial killer's shredded victims--this one lays it all out there. This is evident from the first crime scene that you investigate, which involves the horrific torture-murder of a priest in a church.

Forget about genteel Victorian mysteries; one of the first things you do here is pick up a severed thumb. This sets the depressing mood of the entire game, which features more than one grisly corpse to examine. There is much more here than just shock-factor gross-outs, though. The darkness extends to characterizations, and even Holmes is depicted in a rather unsympathetic manner. He was always well known to be a cold fish, but here he is rude, insulting, and even a suspect in the crimes for a little while. For the first time, you have cause to doubt Holmes, which gives new life to the series.

For a while. Although Testament gets off to a roaring start with corpses, mad poisoners, and cemetery exploration, everything settles down to more of a traditional Holmesian romp by about the midway point of the game. Yet this isn't a letdown. Too much blood would have given the game a slasher-film vibe that would go against the premise of the adventure series and the characters of Holmes and Watson as set forth by Conan Doyle in the late 1800s. And it isn't as though the story coasts to a finish. On the contrary, this is the most involved game in the entire series, packed with the appearances of many of Holmes' most noteworthy heroes and villains, loads of puzzles, and numerous conversations that establish mood and deepen the portrayals of both the leads and the walk-ons. The script is excellent, as are the voice-acting performances. This is one game that you could enjoy just sitting back to watch.

Where murder victims were often covered up in Frogwares' previous Sherlock adventures, here they are displayed in all their gory glory.

Only the too-slavish devotion to point-and-click adventure tropes causes the game to drag. Rooms always need to be scoured for clues. Items are typically buried in the scenery, forcing you to scroll around entire screens waiting for the moment when the icon turns into Holmes' trusty magnifying glass and lets you know that the game's afoot. This isn't as much of a nuisance as it sounds, however. Most rooms are fairly small, and you are allowed to move forward even if you don't examine every little clue in every nook and cranny of the background.

Puzzles can be overwhelming; most are very tough, and there are a lot of them. Virtually all are ingeniously designed, but there are so many that you soon start questioning the sanity of it all. Would a priest really hide love letters under a chessboard puzzle? Would anyone lock boxes with everything from intricate hexagon puzzles to ciphers? This all adds depth to play, at least, and increases the running time. And some puzzles are totally entertaining, such as the board where you plot out deductions about clues. Expect to spend a good 12 to 20 hours on the game, depending on your noggin and your resistance to the temptation to cheat by digging up a walkthrough online.

Testament vastly improves on the look and sound of previous games in the franchise, with noticeably more detail in character models and scenery. Visuals are mostly effective, especially when it comes to the ornate chambers and slums of Victorian London. Character faces generally come with finer features, too, although there are some strange miscues that make the odd supporting figure come off like a mannequin.

Funny how Arthur Conan Doyle didn't write about all the numerical puzzles Holmes constantly had to solve.

More powerful visuals have also been adapted to allow for three different control schemes. For the first time, you can freely switch back and forth between a first-person view, a third-person gamepad-style perspective, and a third-person mouse-click movement angle. So you have a choice whether you prefer using a gamepad, a keyboard and mouse, or a mouse alone. Audio is a cut above what has been previously featured in Frogwares' Holmes games. Music is far more varied and more reminiscent of a theatrical score, and the voice acting is, as has previously been mentioned, absolutely superb.

If you like traditional adventure games, you should love The Testament of Sherlock Holmes. Fans of the genre will be heartened to see how much effort has been expended on such a complex, adult adventure. Even with the minor issues with pixel hunts and puzzle overloading, this is an uncompromising, riveting adventure game.

The Good
Dark storyline that takes Holmes and Watson into gruesome new territory
Compelling presentation with realistic characterizations, script, and voice acting
Great visuals
The Bad
Too many pixel hunts
Puzzle overload
8
Great
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2 comments
Lilianetty
Lilianetty

At the very start I wanted to give the game away (give it back to the store) but then I started playing it by curiosity and end up loving it. Puzzles, great story-telling, even if you don't admire Sherlock Holmes or Conan Doyle, somehow you will end up loving all those things alike (I love Sherlock & Doyle and this game is a treasure I won't give away...learned my lesson Holmes) ;)

Bumblebee1138
Bumblebee1138

Just finished the game and I gotta say, it's damn awesome! :D A must-buy to any Sherlock Fan or a player who want to do puzzels and crime investigating instead of mindless shooting.

benV117
benV117

i am pretty sure that the voice acting part is worst compared to other games...i am surprised to see the terrific voice acting thing as one of the main advantages of the game. guess the author hadnt analysed that part well

tarekmallo
tarekmallo

Now i've played the game and it's awesome, but WHY THE HELL would gamespot give it a "Brutal" Emblem?!! There's no bloodshed nore there is shooting?!!

sangjaka
sangjaka

looks like a must buy... the console needs quality adventure gaming like this.. too many Call of Duty clone and God of War copy paste around these days

timscape
timscape

@soloman212...You said Sherlock never smoked a pipe in his books.  Very wrong. He never smoked a Calabash pipe...but he smoked a clay pipe and many others.  Why do you think he kept his shag tobacco in an old Persian slipper? He also smoked cigarettes and the occasional cigar. 

addicted2050
addicted2050

I'm liking the game from what I've played till now, though when it comes to Watson, the guy voicing him seriously needs acting lessons. Every word out of his mouth irritates the hell out of me. Actually, I don't see how voice acting has gotten into the good part of the review at all. Or maybe I'm missing that it's a special kind of performance by Watson and other actors :X

leikeylosh
leikeylosh

I played the game. The puzzles becomes a little annoying with time for sure, but they can be skipped and the storyline is awesome with a nice twist in the end. These Sherlock Homes games are getting better and better, totally worth it.

Swedenik
Swedenik

Why are people comparing the score of this to RE 6? This is a point and click game. It gets an 8.0 for being a damn good point and click game. No more, no less. You people are comparing apples and oranges here.

advocacy
advocacy

Why are we still discussing Resident Evil 6? All because this game got a better score, is that it?

Zbih
Zbih

Lol at cons: Too many pixel hunts,   Puzzle overload.

This is point-and-click adventure game, so puzzle overload is huge ADVANTAGE.

CaptWaffle
CaptWaffle

Wow people sure are sore about Resident Evil.  I'm not sure this is really the right place to complain about it.... In a way I'm glad it tanked score-wise because there are WAY too many great games coming out all at once and not enough money...... Personally when I saw how few guns you get per campaign on RE I kinda bailed right there..... finding new weapons and figuring out when to use them is a big part of the fun for me... Resident Evil 5 had a WHOLE BUNCH of guns... but even RE4 apparently has a lot more than 6 does (when you break it down to a per-campaign basis)

On this Sherlock Holmes game, though.... it wasn't even on my radar but now I've got to pick this one up, too.  Damn, that's XCom, Dishonored, Sherlock Holmes, Dead Space 3, Crysis 3, Borderlands 2, Far Cry 3, Metro: Last Light, Halo 4..... this has to be the best 4-5 months of gaming-goodness I've ever had the joy of living through. 

Sunuva22
Sunuva22

sherlock holmes books are the only books I ever read and am now watching Sherlock with its 1.5hr long episodes that are like mini movies 6 total pretty good stuff now got to get this game sometime ; D

Arsyad00
Arsyad00

lol this twice the fun as RE6?????

politic

sirvick
sirvick

People coming here to talk about R.E. Jesus... Just go there and play R.E. 6 and stop caring about what you call a "stupid"4.5 It isnt even the same guy that reviewed both games. 

 

Anyway, this sixth installment of Holmes is really magnificent, I'm halfway into the game ( I guess) and having a blast. 

 

Ps. I'm also playing R.E. 6 Before anybody whines at my comment.

psuedospike
psuedospike

So, this is twice the game that RE6 is...ok, Gamespot whatever you say...

timscape
timscape

IMO this game is not dark, it is bland. The gore is unnecessary and seems a replacement for a real storyline. There is no spirit of adventure, no humor, and running back and forth between places to perform mundane things, rather than following a real investigation. There is no sense of pace, of mystery, of returning to 221B Baker Street for a slice of life.  And get this--hardly a pipe smoked.   Purists beware.

shanethewolf
shanethewolf

Is this one of those slideshows where you just click around the screen to find stuff?

ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

a game based on a good work of fiction and doesn't mess it up too bad? i'm getting this!

M-Mniny
M-Mniny

nah i won't pick this one up, cuz there's no Robert Downey Jr.

 

jk I'm definitely getting this one .. it would've been cool though if RDJR was in it ..

also the British dude who plays Dr.Watson :p

 

epic542
epic542

I'd love to play all 6, but sadly, i lack the funds.

wasakawaka
wasakawaka

Good old Sherlock. This looks like an especially good game.

xolivierx
xolivierx

Puzzle overload....MAKES ME WANT IT! lol

godfather830
godfather830

Thanks for the review! I think I'll buy it.

MGS2244
MGS2244

Superb voice acting? nah, defenitly not.  I really dont believe it's up to par with games like Uncharted,Grim Fandango, Monkey Island, Same & Max or anything from Rockstar. The voice acting from the Watson character is waaay too over excited.  The guy just keeps being amazed by everything Holmes or himself finds or inspects.. That was the only thing that started working on my nerves half way through. But, other then that it is a lovely game for those who enjoy the genre.

endorbr
endorbr

No video review... Hmm.  Lazy.

dzimm
dzimm

@timscape Not only does he smoke in the books, but he often smokes like a fiend.  One story has Holmes sitting up all night and smoking while puzzling over his latest problem.  Watson describes the atmosphere the next morning as so thick that he could barely make out the form of his friend sitting on the other side of the room.

Red_Jester
Red_Jester

 @Zbih That entirely depends on what kind of puzzles we're talking about here.

voljin1987
voljin1987

 @Arsyad00 These are two completely different genres.. You can't really make any comparison between them

undeadeath
undeadeath

 @KD35RW0JH13 It's a little too late to mention but you can skip all the puzzles in the game. 

Soloman212
Soloman212

 @timscape If we're discussing purists, in the books Sherlock never smoked a pipe. Only Watson was mentioned as a fan of tobacco, and that was from back in his war days.

hughobrien
hughobrien

 @shanethewolf You mean like a hidden object game? No.  This is more like the newer Broken Sword games. You move about in the 3D world and interact with the game world.

nanosky
nanosky

 @epic542 Possible to help me I want to download games but do not know how.

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

 @endorbr Not lazy; practical.

 

The review was written by a freelancer. That means that in order for us to do a video review, I would have had to pull someone from the reviews team off one of their assignments and ask them, instead, to play this game and get footage.

 

I then would have had to pull someone from the video team off of other video reviews or other important assignments. That could have delayed this review by several days, and would have delayed other video reviews, some for games with more audience interest, like Torchlight II and Dead or Alive 5, as the producer would have had to wait to produce those videos. In addition, whatever game that staff member was playing for review would have taken more time to complete, delaying a written review. 

 

In your mind, there might be thousands of people working at GameSpot, all of which work 24 hours a day and have no families or responsibilities, and can perform many tasks at a single moment.

 

In reality, we have a very small staff that works tirelessly to provide as much content as we can without emotionally destroying ourselves. I am sorry that our tireless weeks with minimal sleep are not meeting your expectations. 

 

Before you accuse someone of being lazy, maybe consider how individuals are working 75+ hour weeks to bring you as much good content as possible. Consider the all-nighters, the suffering relationships, the difficulty in finding time for proper exercise and healthy food when your life is devoted to bringing cool stuff to you. 

 

Or you could just say the things you say, putting down good, dedicated, tirelessly devoted people in the process. Your call. 

SoNin360
SoNin360

 @endorbr Lazy of you to not actually read the review yourself?

timscape
timscape

 @Soloman212 .You said Sherlock never smoked a pipe in his books.  Very wrong. He never smoked a Calabash pipe...but he smoked a clay pipe and many others.  Why do you think he kept his shag tobacco in an old Persian slipper? He also smoked cigarettes and the occasional cigar

dutchgamer83
dutchgamer83

 @nanosky  @epic542 Login to steam, click "buy game" pay for the game and a install button appears. This downloads the game onto your computer. Tadaa done, you downloaded your game.

endorbr
endorbr

 @Kevin-V @SoNin360  @sumdood @TaoranPrince @angeloti83 Well since you called me out on it and other people feel the need to be judgemental let me clarify what I meant.  First of all I did not mean to offend but to make a statement about changes to the GS site culture of late, not to say anything negative about the staff or management team.  These Sherlock Holmes games have been a fairly long running series and until more recent installments PC only.  Now they're becoming multiplatform titles and still get little attention from review sites.  It certainly isn't because I'm too lazy to read but only that I would like to see greater depth of coverage.  I have been a GS regular since 2003 so I've been around the site for a decade and seen the many changes it has gone through. Please don't think I would think something as ignorant as you being a staff of thousands or that you aren't entitled to lives outside of work.  I follow and appreciate the work that you and the rest of the GS staff provide to us on a daily basis.  I understand the demands of management and the decisions that need to be made to appease viewers/readers and corporate.  Unfortunately since CBS(CNET) purchased GS I have noticed a turn toward a more profit centric corporate strategy of site management and less focus on the things that make GS a unique site and community.  I know companies change staff all the time and that we are not privy to GS office politics but there have been a lot of abrupt staff changes in the last year.  Many of the shows that were fixtures of GS (some for years) have been cancelled in favor of cheaper faster segments that focus on flat emotionless delivery of games news.  These sorts of segments are fine but they give GS no identity, nothing memorable over any other site to get people to be frequent viewers/readers.  This is a game news and gamer culture site not CNN so I hate to see a loss of content that provides entertainment as well as information just because its faster and cheaper.  Coverage of pro gaming has been brought to the site because (and forgive me if I'm wrong) it seems to me that it's centered around drawing in sponsors and advertising dollars.  But even through all these changes I still support the GS staff in your efforts and remain a loyal member of the GS community.  I know you and your team will continue to give it your best efforts to appease even grouchy people like me.  Working 75+ hour weeks for any long term for you or any of your staff tells me you've got a problem that your corporate overseers need to help you address.  I completely understand workforce shortages and a need to get the job done in a tight economy but they also need to give you the resources and support you need so you can have a life outside of work.  You definitely have my sympathy there.

angeloti83
angeloti83

 @Kevin-V  @endorbr I totally agree with Kevin, I mean, At least gamespot wrote a review about this game unlike some other sites that didn`t even write a line concerning it. By the way We appreciate your work Kevin! it`s outstanding! please never stop doing it.

Rat_King
Rat_King

 @Kevin-V Mr. Van-ord makes a compelling point, as he is wont to do.

 

But with all due respect, I gotta say, as such an experienced gamer and game journalist Kevin, I'd think you'd know best there's no point in trying to talk to people like this. They don't understand compassion or feelings unless it relates to their own. Reasoning is hopeless.

 

I recommend doing what you're doing (having an overall unique perspective on games but giving way harsh reviews), cause it seems to be working. And I do appreciate how you post in comments more than any other writer. Also tell GS most of us appreciate them tremendously and to not take these people to heart. 

 

 

Soloman212
Soloman212

 @timscape Oy you're right, my mistake... I apologize, but whenever I hear people talking about Sherlock and pipes, I always envision that they're talking about the old comics and illustrations, that portray him frustratingly inaccurately, such as with a deerskin cap and whatnot, and Watson being a chubby short man. *Slowly steps back into the shadows he entered from*

(Nice supporting text.)

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    The famous detective Sherlock Holmes is back on the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 for a great adventure and probably the most dangerous investigation of his entire career.
    7.8
    Average User RatingOut of 254 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate The Testament of Sherlock Holmes
    Developed by:
    Frogwares
    Published by:
    Focus Home Interactive, ATLUS
    Genres:
    Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Use of Drugs