Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments was a surprisingly absorbing detective adventure game that earned a respectable score of 86 in our review. Thus, we're duty-bound to launch a thorough investigation into The Devil's Daughter, a game that wants to create a more unified plot with a greater sense of consequence.
"We wanted to make it feel more meaningful," said Alexandre Sainsily, software product manager at publisher Bigben Interactive, "so in this one all of the consequences of your choices are going to carry on, so if you make a wrong decision, you'll have to live with that."
Your choices unfold across four new cases and a fifth meta-mystery that spans the entire game. Details from your four core cases will contribute to this grand ongoing investigation, providing an additional layer of plot progression.
There is also a whole lot more to do, with more areas to explore. This becomes apparent as soon as you step outside of Sherlock Holmes' iconic Baker Street address and explore the area. You can look around the area and take part in several different activities, from boxing and arm-wrestling to bottle-shooting contests.
These activities will come in useful, because Sherlock can't purely rely on his smarts in The Devil's Daughter. There are several action scenes that see Sherlock having to brawl, chase or just shoot problems. These sections are designed to give you some variety between heavy puzzles.
"I think for the studio they've now achieved what they really wanted to do with Crime and Punishments." Said Sainsily. "It's a cool mix of exploration, investigation and action they started to do with Crimes and Punishments, but bigger."
It's a change in tone too. This Sherlock Holmes is younger, with a stronger jawline. Watson looks more at home rushing to his graphic design job in Shoreditch than assisting Holmes with his investigations. For those used to the dry older Holmes of previous games, it's a big change. "We want to do what Guy Ritchie did," said Sainsily "or what the BBC did, and make the character our own while also respecting the franchise."
It still feels like the same game, but Holmes and Watson are a little sharper, and a little more heroic. Some of the situations you get into are much sillier too. In one instance Holmes goes undercover as a priest and performs a fake exorcism to gain access to a property that needs investigating. This involves screaming at a wooden door, a bookcase and even some saucepans while an associate hammers on the walls from outside. "Fire and flames, better for crumpets than foul demons" Holmes bellows.
I came away with mixed feelings from my time with The Devil's Daughter, but like Crimes and Punishments, it still has a knack for making feel like a real detective. A beautiful mind map shows everything you know, and you draw fibrous connections snaking from point to point to make your conclusions.
Of course, the negative is that sometimes the game didn't believe I was a detective and made me show my working out before it had let me get to work. After finding a leaflet hidden inside someone's coat that pointed to a nearby pub, I ran down there to get to the bottom of the mystery. The bar remained closed, and Holmes refused to enter. Returning to the leaflet ten minutes later, I investigated a weird brown stain on the back "It looks like glue" said Holmes, sending me back to the pub. It was a weird moment, and made me feel less like Holmes and more like a bumbling inspector Clouseau.
Most of the time though, investigations run smoothly. The standard easy mode allows you to skip any puzzles or investigations you think are too tough, but for the purists there's now a hard mode that takes away that option. It's an interesting choice to have, because skipping means you miss the opportunity to fail. The biggest joy of the game is that for all the thought and investigation you put into each mystery, you can still get things wrong, and the game works around that. What will the consequences be for total incompetence? We'll have to wait until June 10 to find out.