Review by KFHEWUI
"Low difficulty and short length ultimately hamper the game"
It is almost Christmas of 1888, when Holmes receives a telegraph from Lord Brainstorming. With his deduction, Holmes realizes it is of importance to visit since a telegraph was sent instead of a letter. After an enlightening visit, the duo return home to solve a puzzle that Lord Brainstorming had given them, and the puzzle held a note about a top secret mission given by the Prime Minister. A burglary has happened at Windsor Castle, and Sherlock Holmes is tasked with solving this case.
There is a decent story in the game, and with enough twists and turns to keep the player interested till the end. Anyone that has played any of the previous Frogwares games will pick up on several references to past games of the series plus several characters from the other games make appearances and do have an affect upon the plot. Writing is excellent with Sherlock being intelligent and Watson being clueless.
Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House has a more a cartoony look than its previous predecessors, and I was not too keen on the look. The look was most likely chosen to appeal to children and was most likely aimed at the demographic. The backgrounds are bright and vibrant, and the characters are solid and detailed although there are not a lot of characters and locales in the game.
The gameplay is more of a hidden picture game and puzzle game, and at certain parts of the game, the player will have to find clues that are scattered throughout the area. This is where the hidden picture gameplay comes into play, and the player has to scan a screen or two looking for clues. If the player gets stuck, they can hit the "!", and it will show them where the clues are located.
Every once in a while there will be a puzzle to solve, and the game has in total 39 puzzles. There is a nice variety of puzzles however most of them are simplistic in nature, and only three puzzles in the game are difficult. Solving each puzzle will reward the player with points, but every time a hint is used, points are subtracted. These points are used to unlock bonus mini-games at the end of the game.
There are three quizzes in the game which is pretty much a simplified deduction boards, and they contain one question with several theories. The player has to pick the correct theory and clues that support the theory.
The bottom screen is where all of the action takes place, and the top screen is pretty much useless. The only time it is used is for hints during solving puzzles and during one of the three quizzes. Due to this design, the game uses only the stylus to control everything. This works great and makes it easy to select objects and answers yet the hit detection is solid which helps make the stylus only control work well. Since the only the stylus is used, it takes no time at all to grasp the controls.
Soundtrack overall is composed of only a few tracks yet each track has a classical vibe to it. The music is enjoyable and unforgettable, but on the other side, the sound effects are minimal at best. There are very little sound effects aside from dog barking and some chimes when solving puzzles.
A few areas where the game comes up short are the difficulty and length. There is only one difficulty which is not that high, and it is another sign that this game was aimed at children. Most of the puzzles can be solved in very little time, and some of the three star rated puzzles are very easy despite having the hardest difficulty rating. My final time clocked in at just over two and a half hour plus I was able to beat the game in one sitting.
Replay value is low with only the option to replay the game and the above mentioned mini-games. Since the game is short, it is easy to replay the game to kill some time. The game is linear in nature, but near the beginning of the game, the player will get to choose which order to follow one of three leads. While playing them in any order all leads to the same conclusion, it does add a little replay value.
Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House is an average game, and while I enjoyed the game, I cannot overlook the short length and lack replay value. Even at a $20 price tag, it is hard for me to recommend this game to anyone other than die hard fans of the Frogwares' Sherlock Holmes series. Due to the simplistic nature, it is a great game for kids that will off some challenge, but for adults there is very little challenge except for a few of the later puzzles.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/17/13, Updated 04/29/13
Game Release: Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House (US, 01/04/11)
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