Dancing men and exorcisms.
Sherlock Holmes games have been crawling in the dark mystery corner for ages, improving with each iteration and evolving alongside a newfound public interest in the spectacular detective. Touring the game’s new features at GDC 2016, it’s clear The Devil’s Daughter brings no shame to what’s become a modern brand on screens large, small, and silver.
First on our stop is Holmes’ deduction skills, which get more dynamic with age. Years ago, this feature allowed players to find clues on cartooned corpses, but here we examine the accessories of an extravagant visitor, deciding exactly what his fancy boots and American flag pin mean. These on-the-spot inspections now offer multiple deduction choices, meaning you can mis-profile your target.
Returning features from past titles include dialogue choices, deduction spaces that task players with connecting key evidence, and interactive loading screens, which show Holmes enjoying a ride inside a carriage. Instead of waiting around, players can glance through his notebook of evidence, deductions and chat logs. You’re also free to be the antithesis of productivity and just sit there staring at the protagonist’s face.
The most striking addition is a shiny new mechanic that lets the player visualize a series of actions, order them as is most logical, and execute them to achieve their goals. After scouring a few gambling tables, for example, Holmes had gathered enough information to lure a guard away from an important door. In a quick, but thought out series, he toppled a hat, stole a knife, started a fight, and slipped out the door as planned. It all plays out similarly to the action in recent Sherlock Holmes movies, pulling off an interplay between puzzles and engagement that is becoming more crucial to modern detective games.
A brief stop at Baker Street gave a glimpse of the historical base of operations. The cluttered house, pretty much a manifestation of Sherlock’s mind, serves its practical uses: a chemical kit for experiments down the line, an archive that can be checked periodically for clues in past cases, and an appreciated portrait of the dancing men, a nod to a Sherlock Holmes short story from 1903.
Taking a visit to the local police house, you can spot whatever suspect you have recently accused and detained. You’re able to traverse the game making deductions like this as you see fit.
The excitement culminated in a faux exorcism, in which Holmes disguised himself as a priest to weasel into the home of a religiously terrified woman. Street kids placed in predetermined locations rattled walls and broke windows as Sherlock paraded around screaming at imaginary demons, players watching their antics with a pseudo-x-ray vision.
From calming observation to bookcase-rocking demon hunting, The Devil’s Daughter looks to be a doubtless step up for Sherlock Holmes, keeping all the right investigative charm while taking care to liven up the intellectual process.
Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter releases May 27 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.