Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened—a new entry in the long-running series, which pits the iconic detective against Lovecraftian weirdness—has been delayed "to March, or April at the latest". The accompanying video (opens in new tab) by Ukrainian developer Frogwares paints a bleak picture of daily life in the country.
"Had a busy day at work cause we are preparing for the release, and I just came home, there's no electricity yet again due to another Russian bombing," says one of the team as the video begins. "I'd like to make something to eat, but instead I'll sit in the darkness and stare at the wall."
The game was chosen as a more modest project than the studio's last few games—it's a remake of a game it first released in 2007, and a linear adventure, rather than an open world like Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One (opens in new tab) and The Sinking City (opens in new tab) were. But that said, I was impressed by a recent demo (opens in new tab), which to me didn't seem small or underwhelming despite the difficult circumstances.
Due to Russian attacks on power infrastructure, the Ukrainian government has had to institute scheduled blackouts. The developers are forced to work where and when they can get electricity—some shifting ad hoc between remote working and the office based on where the power is, some working evenings and even nights when there's less strain on the grid.
"There's still a lot of work ahead of us: finalising the game, fixing the bugs, and preparing the releases on multiple platforms," says another developer. "All complicated things that are made extra difficult by this whole situation."(opens in new tab)
It's surreal watching shots of the team hard at work in the office interspersed with footage of the war: destroyed buildings, minefields, and explosions. Frogwares remains defiant and bullish, calling Russian strategies "brain dead and pointless", but it's clear the experience is taking an enormous toll.
"I have to be honest, we are all exhausted," says the first developer, still sitting in darkness. "This war started 8 years ago with the annexation of Crimea and the Donbas. We then had two years of severe Covid restrictions, and now an all-out invasion in 2022. I think a lot of us can no longer even remember what normal feels like."(opens in new tab)
Moving from a February release to March or April is hardly a dramatic push, and fans are clearly happy to wait, with the video's comments full of outpourings of support.
Even if the game's not on your radar, the video is well worth a watch. It's a real window into the remarkable endurance and persistence of ordinary people in an extraordinary situation, and it's clear that, to Frogwares, the project has come to mean far more than just another detective game.