Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened 

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With a choice of first or third-person action, Sherlock Holmes joins the Focus Multimedia catalogue of games.

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Unlike Television’s latest take on Sherlock Holmes with his ability to solve crimes that have the authorities running around in circles, in today’s society,, the computer game of Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is firmly based in the 19th century.  Now just in case you feel that this title might have a familiar ring to it, I should point out that the title has now become part of Focus Multimedia selection of game titles priced at under £10.  This is also the digital remastered version of the game.

Rather than being based on an original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story, The Awakened has been inspired by the acclaimed horror writer, H. P. Lovecraft, so you can expect more blood and gore than is usual with a Sherlock Holes investigation.  Following an opening sequence involving Dr Watson and a rather nightmarish dream, you start the game, as you would expect with a Sherlock Holmes title, is the detective’s 221B Baker Street residence.  The game can be played in either the classical adventure third-person mode or first-person mode.

While the developers of the game have taken great care in their attempt to recreate the London of the period (it was totally different from that of today especially the Baker Street area), other aspects have not received the same amount of attention.  Take for example the condition of the streets along which you could find yourself wandering.  It is rare to see any characters, other than those who have a part to play, who might just be passing-by.  You could be forgiven for thinking that the presence of rubbish, animals (especially pigeons) and vehicles were exclusive to modern London as they are conspicuous by their absence in this game.  Also every character encountered during Holmes investigation has a Hollywood-style set of teeth – it says a great deal for the standard of Victorian dentistry.

As mentioned the game can be played in a mixture of third and first-person mode.  Your character is controlled by the mouse with its cursor changing shape to indicate possible actions such as walk, interact, talk or examine.  Pressing the right mouse button brings up your inventory.  This has sections for items, dialogue, reports and maps plus the option to switch between the two styles of game mode.  Complete records of conversations and documents collection will be automatically stored in the relevant section of the inventory while the map can be used to allow you to move between different locations.

There are also various keyboard shortcuts to implement certain actions.  Included among the keyboard features are two methods of calling up different aspects of help.  By pressing the spacebar you are shown hotspots within the current scene that could require action of some sort.  The F1 key will offer assistance in how to proceed at any given point.

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened does place you in a kind of straightjacket in that you do need to proceed through a set number of steps in order to make any progress.  An early example of this approach requires a certain book to be located before Holmes and Watson can meet up and move on to the next stage of their investigation.  There are also occasions when you will be blocked from examining clues that are clearly visible until you have spoken to one of the other characters.

At various times during the game you will be automatically switched between Holmes and Watson in order to carry out a specific task as investigations reveal that a mysterious Cthulhu sect is behind the strange happenings that include a body disgorging large worms.  The game contains a number of puzzles that can be obtuse and difficult but then you do have Holmes on your side.

The game’s graphics are suitable for the game but hardly outstanding.  Animation, especially in the movement of the various characters is a little stilted and there are several occasions when Holmes has to walk around Watson who has a habit of standing directly in front of him.  Dialogue is both spoken and appears in text format.

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is available from Focus Multimedia and has been priced at £9.99.  The game requires a Pentium III 1.0GHz processor with 512MB of RAM, 3GB of hard disk space and support for DirectX 9.0.

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OverallFocua Multimedia Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened rated 60 out of 100

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