Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper - Cheat Happens Game Review
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Sherlock Holmes vs.
Jack the Ripper

PC, XBox 360

Reviewed on: XBox 360

Developer:
Frogwares
Publisher: Dreamcatcher
Rated: "T" for Teen


CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

   
   
   
Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
   
CHEATfactor: 6
   
     

I’m sort of a weird guy, and now that I think about it, I always have been. As a kid, I took the comic book and cartoon route rather than playing Little League. In my teenage years, I skipped the school dances and night clubs in favor of nights at the movies, and game nights with my friends. In fact, in High School I did a twenty page paper and an oral presentation on the crimes of Jack the Ripper. Yeah, you can bet that really got the ladies.

Truth is I’ve always been quite obsessed with the murders and mystery of Jack the Ripper. Not only that, I’m also the nerdy guy who has a stack of Sherlock Holmes novels on his desk. So you’d think a game featuring the world’s most noteworthy detective taking on the case of the most mysterious serial killer would be perfect for me. Eh, not so much. QVS’s action-centric puzzle game is worth a look for the rarely touched subject matter, but at the same time; it hinders the game’s overall feel and what you’re left with is a mildly entertaining and very linear puzzler game.

"..the majority of the game is grounded in actual events."

It’s the summer of 1888 and a series of gruesome prostitute murders has gripped East London’s small White Chapel district. Of course, these murders are the work of the man the press has dubbed “Jack the Ripper.” This is perhaps one of the game’s strongest suits – the majority of the game is grounded in actual events. In fact, a lot of the game’s dialogue and clues are taken directly from actual police reports and newspaper articles regarding the murders. Really, the only major liberty the developers took with the tale of ole’ Jack is the inclusion of Sherlock and Watson. In this way, the game feels much like a love letter to the legacy and mystery of the actual story than a mere attempt to cash in on what have become two reliable properties.

 
   

The folks at QVS may claim Sherlock Holmes VS Jack the Ripper is an adventure game, but it undoubtedly plays and feels like an old fashioned point and click experience. You navigate the worlds as both Holmes and Watson in search of clues in the dreary division. In fact, the moments in the game where you actually investigate the crimes is incredibly fun. Holmes and Watson have a wide variety of techniques to try to unravel the mystery of Jack the Ripper.  Each crime scene will present you with a wide variety of scenarios and ways to go about gathering clues; you’ll re-enact the crimes, perform autopsies, and investigate the scene of the crime. It’s a little disheartening at times when you realize that you’re going to select most of your leads through a pull down menu, but it’s impressive none the less.

Where Sherlock VS Jack falters though is when it tries way too hard to become a puzzle/action game.  In between investigations, Holmes and Watson literally slink through White Chapel in search of suspects and clues. In context, they work, but in practice they come off more as fetch and errand quests that tend to drag on.  Seriously, I’m the world’s second best detective of all time (Batman being number one of course), can’t I do more than interrogate people and pick locks? While some of the quests are more interesting than others, they all serve as time wasters as you’re waiting for the next murder investigation.

"...the supporting cast is pretty cartoony."

 
   

From a presentation standpoint, Sherlock Holmes VS Jack the Ripper is a mixed bag. While the sharp mix of eerie tones and vague backgrounds brings out a lot of emotion and makes you feel like you’re in 17th century London – the animations and movements tend to come off as robotic and take you out of the action. Oh, and then there’s the voice acting is straight out of the “so bad its good” file. While the main characters aren’t terrible, the supporting cast is pretty cartoony.

While the majority of the script reads like a love letter to the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, just a warning, the game’s conclusion feels like a cop-out that’s unlike anything you’d expect from the titular hero. In an effort to be as spoiler free as possible, I’m going to shy away with just what transpires in the game’s anti-climactic final moments, just prepare to be disappointed.

If you’re a fan of the Jack the Ripper mythos, or even the art of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, you’re sure to at least appreciate what QVS has to offer in this quasi puzzle/point and click adventure title. When it’s at its best, it’s simply riveting, but at its worst, it’s a disappointing game in need of an identity. Sadly, whether or not you’re going to like Sherlock Holmes VS Jack the Ripper isn’t clear Elementary my dear Watson. Sorry, I had to… 

 

CHEATfactor

CHEATS USED: Achievements List

As of this writing, there’s no cheats available for Sherlock Holmes VS Jack the Ripper. There’s really not a lot of room for them in fact. What I would really like is the ability to play as Jack the Ripper.  Seriously! How awesome would that be? The game would take on more of a stealth type approach, tasking you with sneaking up on your prey and covering your tracks. It would be an interesting way to change up the adventure game genre.

 

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