Sherlock Holmes: Secret of the Silver Earring
|Release Date:||September 28, 2004|
A mystery is afoot.
Yes, my dear Watson, there’s a mystery to be solved. Better grab the gang and head for the Mystery Machine, then build some unlikely contraption to catch Old Man Johnson down by the mill. But Sherlock Holmes isn’t your average point and click borefest that will challenge all but the most novice of adventure gamers. It’s not pixel-hunting—it’s closely analyzing a scene, looking for clues. It’s not clicking through dialogue trees—it’s interrogation. It’s not a puzzle— ok, so it is a puzzle game, but to its credit, it’s a damn good puzzle game.
The Secret of the Silver Earring is a solid Sherlock Holmes adventure that, while not being based on any actual Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story, does an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the original source materials. It’s an interesting mystery involving a murder (of course), an obviously guilty party who may not be guilty (of course), and some surprising twists and turns (naturally). You mostly play as Holmes, though you get to do a few things as Watson. You mostly look through nicely rendered rooms, (pixel) hunting for clues. The atmosphere is very Victorian England, and the dialogue is well written.
It does drag a bit, with two serious game-stopping scenes. There’s a bad “find the magic place to hide” area, which requires trial-and-error, and another area provides the answer to the question, “What’s worse than an intentionally disorienting maze?” (Answer: A timed intentionally disorienting maze.)
It’s hard to balance what the player thinks he or she knows, and what Holmes is supposed to know from the clues within the game. The help combat that issue, there’s a very clever “quiz” after certain parts of the game where you need to answer Holmes’ questions. They serve the purpose of effectively summarizing the case to that point, as you use evidence/dialogue/etc. to “answer” the question. But it’s still easy to get lost in the case, and there’s also a good chance you can reach the end without knowing who killed Sir Bromsby, or Hunter, or Johansson. You can, however, still see the final 20-minute movie that lays it out all, in painstaking detail.
That you can complete the game without really solving the case on your own makes this as much an interactive movie as an adventure. There’s very little traditional puzzles, as almost all of the challenges presented to the player involve finding clues and talking to people. It makes it a fairly easy game, but one that still provides plenty of solid entertainment.
System Requirements: Pentium III 1 GHz, 256 MB RAM, Win95
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