Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper

When slipping this in my 360 my first impressions weren’t that favourable. Even if it were an Xbox 360 launch game the visuals would be a disappointment, with basic character models and animations that are recycled endlessly. The voice acting is pretty shabby too – I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the developers themselves provided most of the voices. The local policeman sounds just like the doctor, only with a peg on his nose.

But as the murder mystery started to unfold I soon became hooked, wanting to find out the identity of Jack the Ripper and his motives. So much so that after a while the graphical shortcomings became completely ignorable and I started to warm to the unintentionally hilarious vocal talent. Actually, the simplistic visuals work in the game’s favour – the loading times are some of the shortest I’ve seen in a long time, enabling Sherlock to warp around Whitechapel pretty much in an instant.

There are two views to choose from – first person and fixed camera, a la the early Resident Evil games. Holding down the trigger button highlights items that can be interacted with, but even so it’s sometimes easy to miss things of importance. Puzzles come in all different varieties, like having to find access to locked buildings by using the random items (such as coat hangers) scattered around on the ground. Jack’s murder scenes have to be fully investigated too, and then all the clues have to be placed in a certain order on a deduction board.

The last murder in particular is disturbingly grim, with the victim’s slashed face shown in great detail. Another grizzly moment is when you have to find out what weapon Jack uses by cutting up some pig heads. And then there’s a chap who you have to track down who has a collection of lady’s rude bits stored in jars. Charming. There are some humorous moments though, like the scene where Watson gets rather embarrassed about having to enter a brothel and ask for clues. Unlike Sherlock, who is a little be snobby and pompous, Watson is easily likable being both polite and sprightly.

If you’ve played already this and managed to finish it without using a guide then my hat goes off to you – I had to resort to using GameFaqs a few times. I also came across a nasty glitch – after gaining three testimonies against Jack, Sherlock sets up three mannequins to try and establish what Jack looks like. If you don’t open up the testimonies in a certain order then you can’t continue. Because you can’t die in the game I didn’t save it that often, meaning I had to restart a sizable chunk all over again. The fact that I didn’t mind doing so though probably says quite a lot.

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