Famous consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes currently in residency, 221B Baker St.

Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper==

Video Game review | Computer software

Sherlock Holmes has been one of the most iconic fictional characters in the genre of crime and deduction for over a century. The fictional detective was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887, where he appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual, a published English magazine. From his first adventure, A Study in Scarlett, to Holmes’ last story His Last Bow, the 56 short stories and 4 novels had made Sherlock Holmes famous all over the world.

Sherlock is never seen without his trusted companion, Dr. John Watson, whom accompanies him throughout all of his adventures. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories are always perceived from the view of Watson, documenting the life of Sherlock Holmes. Together the duo takes on the unsolvable crimes to deduce the truth in the end.

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” – Sherlock Holmes

An ‘indie’ European video game producing company known as Frogware were made famous after they adapted Sherlock Holmes into a video game franchise in 2002, consisting of adventure games full of mystery, crime and puzzles. Their latest instalment to the series of 5 was Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper, released in May 2009.


Sherlock Holmes during investigation.

The story, a non-canonical one, takes place in the year of 1888, the month of September within the bustling city of industrialized London. It is September 1st, and Sherlock and Watson have no case, so spend the evening at 221B Baker Street. This is until they gain knowledge of a murder in a seedy part of London known as Whitechapel, and thus the chase begins.

The game utilizes basic computer game mechanics, operating with the controls of the mouse and keyboard. The gamer is given the opportunity to control Detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson throughout the game, both in first person view to investigate mysteries and clues up close and personal, or third person view, to navigate the bustling streets of London, allowing the gamer to view Holmes’ and Watson’s interactions with the world around them in more detail.

The user interface is exceedingly excellent, uncluttered and well laid out. You can bring up a map of London for easier navigation, collected documents on your case, recorded dialogues, an inventory of items and reports. You are also given two interesting interfaces called deductions and conclusions. Every time Holmes and Watson discover a new clue or an interesting lead, it is recorded within the deduction tab, and as the clue is followed to reach a conclusion, it is then added to the conclusion tab, but only if it’s adequate evidence.

The game stays true to its genre as a classic point-and-click adventure game, allowing you to make your own pathway around London as you collect clues from pubs, shops, brothels and beggars to catch the infamous Jack the Ripper. Every time you have enough information to make progress in the game, you return to 221B Baker St and are given the opportunity to piece everything you have learnt from interactions around London, together.

There is a high level of ingenuity within the game as sometimes gathering information isn’t as easy as you’d like it to be. Sometimes it requires Sherlock to go undercover, disguised as a mere street beggar, and gather information in more dangerous situations. The game lives up to the reputation of Sherlock in the books, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had written Holmes is truly a master of disguise, as you get information from reluctant witnesses and criminals.


The user interface for Holmes and Watson in the form of a book.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the game is how you get to utilize skills as the famous consulting detective and his trusted friend. At crime scenes you are put in depth as you use your magnifying glass to search from hidden clues, create timelines of the events of the crime, form diagrams and you can go as far as re-enact murder scenes with Watson to determine things such as was the slash made to a murder victims neck from a left-handed or right-handed individual and in what position was the victim in when they were murdered.

The game handles well for the PC and appropriates the keyboard and mouse equally for such an in depth adventure game experience. It is set out in a 3D environment which is London City and uses real-time landscape and interactive NPCs. The games M rating comes from the use of gory features such as bloody crime scenes and suggestive murders.

Of course the game was set back a few features such as the use of virtual bodies for the victims of the crime scene, however this is Frogware’s respect to the real victims of Jack the Rippers murders. The game uses actual facts, times, locations and real accounts of people from the Jack the Ripper case in reality, at Whitechapel. This increases the level of believability in the game and especially as all aspects are completely believable which leads to the climactic ending.


Sherlock during investigation.

In spite of several small technical issues amongst the game such as minor character movement, and texture overlay with glitchy interaction, Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper is an excellent adventure game, well ahead of its time in the genre. It truly brings to life the famous consulting detective, misanthropic anti-hero with a drug habit, Sherlock Holmes and his colleague Dr. John Watson in a re-imagined 19th century industrialized London in the times of the Whitechapel murders. It is an excellent game for all those whom are fans of the adventure game genre and fans of Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective of 221B Baker St.