Review – Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments (Switch)
I love when a developer randomly decides to port an older game, way back from the early years of the PS4/Xbox One generation, to the Switch in order to make up for the fact the Wii U was Nintendo’s most powerful machine at the time. Last year, the biggest title to come from this very specific, yet noticeable microcosm was Dying Light. The first title of its kind to be released for the Switch this year, however, comes from the folks at Frogwares. Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, widely regarded as one of their best titles, is finally available on a Nintendo system.
Despite being known for their countless Sherlock Holmes games, The Sinking City had previously been my only experience with a Frogwares game prior to tackling Crimes and Punishments. I like that game. It was glitchy, janky, and botched beyond the limits of human comprehension, but it had charm. Plus, it had some great ideas. It did not, however, need an open world. Nor did it need combat sections. Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments showcases Frogwares at its purest and at its best, as it’s centered around good storytelling and pure, unadulterated mystery solving.
The fact the game isn’t set in an open world actually works to its advantage. Its missions feel a lot more focused. The story progresses at a faster pace. The deductions can be done during loading times, allowing you to keep working on your case even while the game momentarily locks you away from proper gameplay. I even liked the vast amount of minigames and small QTEs thrown into each mission, giving the game some room to breathe, making it look more like an actual detective story and not just a walking simulator with a ton of dialogue and the occasional puzzle to solve.
Is it janky? Well, of course it is. It was janky back in 2014, and the Switch’s hardware won’t miraculously run it better than the PS4 and Xbox One did. That didn’t matter, though, as the game ran well enough, at a surprisingly high resolution for a Switch game (a whopping 1080p in docked mode), with loading times that were less egregious than anticipated. The framerate, however, was a bit clunky, especially in docked mode. I didn’t notice them as often in portable mode, but then again, that may have just been the perks of playing a game on a smaller screen, where the 2014 visuals and slightly bizarre facial animations looked surprisingly good in comparison.
My biggest fear with Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments was possibly finding out that the voice acting was terrible. Sure, the voice acting in The Sinking City (again, my only previous experience with a Frogwares game) was good, but that game came out years after Crimes and Punishments, and had a bigger development budget. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the voice acting in this game and find out it was actually pretty good… with one exception. The ONE character which should have been voiced decently, the one and only Sherlock, just sounds awful in this game. He just sounds like an android doing a terrible Alan Rickman impersonation.
The weird thing about Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments is that, while pretty decent, I was enjoying it the most on a big screen, in docked mode. It didn’t feel as entertaining on a small screen, given how you need to pay attention to small details on walls and on the floor, which require a big flat TV showcasing the game on the highest of resolutions. This isn’t the best example of a game that can be enjoyed on a portable, and I can only imagine how annoying it can get if you own a Switch Lite. That doesn’t make Crimes and Punishments bad in any way. It’s just one of the very few games on the Switch where the novelty of portability just worsens the overall experience.
I’m not going to deny that Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments isn’t a proper fit for a portable system, and it has aged somewhat weirdly. With that being said, a good game is a good game, no matter the platform it is released for. I still had quite a lot of fun with this title. By no means is this the most challenging or thought-provoking mystery adventure out in the market, but it offers a sizeable amount of content, decent visuals, a wide variety of minigames, and, as expected, good storytelling. It might be eight years old as of the writing of this article, but it’s still worth your time if you’re into the genre.
It runs relatively well, and at a high resolution (for Switch standards). There are some visual glitches here and there, and some of the facial animations are beyond cringy, but I expected worse.
For a Sherlock Holmes game, it’s not challenging, but it’s serviceable. There are tons of minigames thrown into the mix, which add a bit of variety onto what would have otherwise been a game about talking to people and clicking at icons.
A collection of decent but uneventful background tunes coupled with surprisingly good voice acting. Well, except for whoever voiced Sherlock. He sounds like a robot impersonating Alan Rickman.
Fun Factor: 7.5
Crimes and Punishments isn’t exactly the kind of game that fits well with a portable, but it’s still an interesting adventure title with decent production values… for 2014 standards. It’s a bit janky, but it’s still a must for mystery solving enthusiasts.
Final Verdict: 7.5
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments is available now on PS3, PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments was provided by the publisher.