Review – Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened

Frogwares came back into the spotlight a couple years ago with a brand-new adventure, Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One. It focused on the infamous sleuth in his younger days, filled with sass and swagger, before attaining his notoriety. Despite some flaws, I rather enjoyed my time with Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One, and having been looking forward the next episode since then. Well, while we don’t have an entirely brand-new Sherlock title, Frogswares has worked diligently to bring us Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, a completely remade version of the original game released in 2007. This is even more impressive considering they’re a Ukrainian based studio in the middle of a war.

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Dr. Watson

This time around, you’ll be able to play as Dr. Watson at certain times.

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened features a truly unique concept for a Sherlock Holmes game. It has the brilliant detective exploring one of his most bizarre cases yet: the Cthulhu Mythos! While investigating what he thinks is just another routine murder case, Holmes stumbles upon a mysterious cult and conspiracy to awaken a dark cosmic deity, along with the apocalypse. Can Holmes uncover the truth without losing his precious sanity?

The overall story is a bit hit or miss. Everything pertaining to the Cthulhu Mythos is absolutely captivating. However, the other cases Holmes takes on can feel like they drag on at times. Honestly, the pacing in Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is by far its biggest issue. Whenever I was investigating the mysterious circumstances surround the bizzarre cult and the Cthulhu Mythos in any capacity, I was was completely engaged.

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Cult Member

On second thought, I don’t think I want to join this cult.

The same could not be said for the rest of the cases that took him away from the thicket of the Eldritch horrors. A few of the cases were fairly bland and mundane, which was a stark contrast to the intriguing darkness of the Lovecraftian concepts. Anytime Holmes had to explore a new area, the pacing would screech to a halt, until he once again stumbled across some new thread that lead him once more to the cult.

Several of the gameplay elements from Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One make their return in Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened. First, is Concentration, which allows Holmes to spot any key items or points of interest. Next, is the Mind Palace, where Sherlock can make deductions about the case. Once again, Holmes can also create character portraits for certain NPCs he meets along way. Just like in Chapter One, there’s no real right or wrong answer to however you decide to label these characters, which is somewhat disappointing. The ability to rebuild a crime scene also makes its return, and is probably one of my favorite mechanics in the game. It allows you to recreate a visual representation of what transpired during the crime, and is a fun way to discover if your deductions were correct.

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Concentration

Sherlock answers the age old question: why did the chicken cross the road?

Then, there’s Sherlock’s casebook, where he can pin pieces of evidence. This is by far my least favorite gameplay mechanic that was carried over from the last game. While there are plenty of times where it’s obvious which piece of evidence you need to pin in order to find answers, this isn’t always the case. Often times it becomes a guessing game of which arbitrary piece of evidence you need to have pinned in order to elicit a helpful response from someone. Thankfully, the awkward combat was left out of Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, which I’m sure most of the fans will appreciate.

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Rowing Through the Wetlands

This entire section brought the flow of the game to a screeching halt.

As far as the visuals, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is an absolutely gorgeous game. The character models are highly detailed, and the animations are smooth and realistic. Each of the environments are beautifully crafted as well, from the wetlands of Louisiana to the dark recesses of a Swiss mental institution. As was the case with Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One, the non-important NPCs are less detailed than the others, but surprisingly, there’s a lot less of them in Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, so they don’t necessarily stand out as much as before. The game also runs well, maintaining a stable 60fps throughout the entire time.

The sound design is another highlight. Each of the vocal performances are expertly done, without a weak portrayal in the bunch. Holmes and Watson’s frequent bickering and banter are always a delight to listen to. The soundtrack is also wonderful, with the musical score fitting the foreboding tone of the game perfectly.

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Eldritch Chant

Nothing like an Eldritch earworm.

Overall, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened was a fun, albeit uneven, experience. Several of the flaws from Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One were addressed, such as removing the clunky combat system, while others, like pinning specific evidence to uncover clues, remain a frustrating gameplay feature. The overarching story is compelling and will keep you invested all the way through. Although, it does bear repeating to expect some pretty uneven pacing, especially when your leads take Sherlock away from the Lovecraftian elements. Still, this remake is an impressive feat, essentially completely rebuilding the original game from the ground up, with all new story beats never seen in the original. This is especially remarkable when you consider the environment in which it was made. My heart and admiration goes out to the entire development team.


Graphics: 9.0

A truly beautiful game with some truly stunning character models. The framerate maintains a stable 60fps at all times.

Gameplay: 8.0

Sherlock can investigate crime scenes, scour for clues, interrogate the locals, and make deductions, just like before. Thankfully, the awkward combat has been removed this time.

Sound: 9.0

All of the vocal performances are strong, and the musical score fits the foreboding tone of the game well.

Fun Factor: 7.0

The mystery surround the Cthulhu Mythos is truly engaging. However, the game does suffer from some pretty big pacing issues and some frustrating moments with figuring out which piece of evidence to pin to progress the story.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on PS5.

A copy of Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened was provided by the publisher.