|Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened|
European cover art
|Publisher(s)||Focus Home Interactive|
|Genre(s)||Adventure, open world, stealth|
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is an adventure video game developed by Frogwares and published in 2007 for Microsoft Windows. The game follows an original plotline as Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr. John H. Watson investigate a series of strange disappearances related to the Cthulhu Mythos.
The third in the Sherlock Holmes series of adventure games developed by Frogwares, The Awakened was preceded in 2002 by Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Mummy and in 2004 by Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Silver Earring. This is the first game in the series to tackle supernatural elements such as the Cthulhu Mythos, the previous two games having fairly traditional (albeit original) Holmesian plots.
In 2008, a remastered version was released that offers the ability to play in a third-person perspective mode in addition to the first-person perspective. The version also features improved graphics and changes to the help system, this the first "Sherlock Holmes" game to get an M (Mature 17+) rating the ERSB. The remastered version became available on Steam on August 6, 2009.
The game won GameSpot's "Best Use of a License" award in 2007.
On September 6, 1894, Sherlock Holmes stares out of his window, bored that he has no case to solve that is worthy of his talents. He learns that a young Maori manservant, who works for Captain Stenwick, has mysteriously disappeared. Holmes quickly deduces not only that the boy has been kidnapped, but also that two men – one significantly larger than the other – were responsible. A few leads point to the docks by the Thames, and there, Holmes and Watson learn that similar kidnappings of foreigners have occurred. Further investigation leads them to an abandoned subterranean temple, where they discover a bloody and tortured corpse upon a sacrificial altar. They also find opium with morphine which leads Holmes to deduce that it is being used as a kind of soporific to subdue victims, so that they can be abducted and trafficked out of the country. After finding a crate labelled "Black Edelweiss Institute", Holmes recalls that the mountain flower Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum) is a national symbol of Switzerland.
Upon arrival it is discovered that the Black Edelweiss Institute is a Swiss mental asylum headed by a gentleman named Dr Gygax. Holmes and Watson hatch a plan to gain access and investigate. Knowing that he is about to willingly fall into the hands of criminals, Holmes sends Watson away from the asylum. This is primarily for his own safety, but also so that Holmes still has a connection with the outside world should things go awry once inside the Institute. Donning a costume and assuming a false identity, Holmes enters and is quickly incarcerated. After escaping from his cell, he finds further proof of Dr. Gygax's involvement in serious criminal activities. Not only has the doctor been performing dangerous experiments on helpless victims in the asylum, he is also part of a cult awaiting the arrival of the 'One'. Holmes unexpectedly discovers that his nemesis Moriarty is a patient, though a weakened shadow of his former self having survived the fall at Reichenbach. Using Moriarty as a distraction, Holmes extricates himself from the asylum.
Their next stop is New Orleans, as the city was mentioned in a telegram to Gygax. There, Holmes and Watson are taunted and harassed by the local sheriff who recognises them and appears to have some connection to the cult. They soon hear about a local man known as Mr. Arneson and his servant, a young lad named Davy, both of whom have been missing for days. They find Davey, who is mute due to psychological trauma. After Watson treats him, Davy writes on a chalkboard a series of numbers, which Watson copies down. Holmes and Watson then rescue Arneson, who was about to be sacrificed by a crazed cult member, and manage to retrieve an ancient book.
Back in London, Holmes and Watson learn from the book about a mythical sea god who could be awakened by the sacrificing of persons representing the different nations. They also decipher Davy's numbers, which they find are co-ordinates pointing to Ardnamurchan Lighthouse on a Scottish coastline. Once at the lighthouse, Holmes and Watson have a final confrontation with the cultists and their leader Lord Rochester, whose fortune finances the sect. Holmes manages to stop the 'summoning', but a fierce storm appears, which Rochester assumes is the coming of Cthulhu. Despite Holmes' attempt to stop him, Rochester jumps to his death into the raging sea below.
The Awakened was the first Frogwares title to allow gameplay to take place in an entirely real-time 3D landscape and from a first-person perspective, losing the pre-rendered backgrounds of its predecessor. Like other Sherlock Holmes games by Frogwares it gives an open world environment in every location that can hide clues and interact with NPC. The inventory system saves all objects, documents and map locations for later use and can also be used to combine objects. All conversations with characters in the game are completed through linear cut scenes for which you cannot direct the subjects at any point. Some of these conversations are triggered merely by clicking on a character, while others require you to complete a series of tasks before they will happen on their own. While most of Holmes’ conclusions in the game come from gathering random clues found around the crime scenes, you will have the opportunity to take evidence back to Holmes’ famous 221 B Baker Street flat and examine it under a microscope or put it through chemical tests. You will also have puzzles to solve throughout the game like picking combination locks, deciphering cryptic messages and solving a clock puzzle to open a safe.
The game can be viewed from a first- or third-person perspective and it provides you with an icon to indicate what actions Holmes can take within his world like pick up or talk. Holmes can move around via the mouse or the keyboard and his movement is completely free within the 3D space. While the game does give you a fair amount of space to move around in each area, there are cases where Holmes must move to a new area screen or change his view of the street in order to move where you want him to, but in those cases, an icon will show a set of footprints to indicate the change.
Although the game had adopted a view popularized by the first-person shooter genre, it retains the point-and-click aspect of most adventure games, giving the player the ability to complete the game using the mouse alone.
The remastered version allows for gameplay in a third-person perspective, similar to other Frogwares titles, such as Sherlock Holmes: Secret of the Silver Earring and Dracula: Origin.
Updated features of Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Remastered Edition include two view modes (the original 1st-person mode, along with the new 3rd-person mode), a new Help Bar which allows players in the 3rd-person mode to instantly discover all the available actions on the screen, an updated help system that offers gamers step-by-step solutions to the game's puzzles, and improved graphics which feature new lighting, HD effects, shaders, shadows and new animations.
The game received mixed reviews, receiving a metascore of 72 out of 100, collated from 28 critics, and 7.2 from users at Metacritic. The first four Sherlock Holmes titles from Frogwares—Mummy, Silver Earring, The Awakened and Nemesis—totaled roughly 1.5 million global sales by February 2009.
GameSpot said "An engaging story, logical puzzles, and nice visuals combine to make The Awakened a great adventure game", adding that the only negative aspect of it is that you can't skip cutscenes.(But you can press any button/key repeatedly to skip the cutscenes.)
- Legally, Focus Home Interactive was not a publisher but a licensee (distribution intermediary): "It needs to be clear it wasn’t a “developer and publisher” situation" (Waël Amr), Planète Aventure, 22 February 2020.
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