Seemingly 2012 was THE year for point & click games, with Telltale games' The Walking Dead in particular stealing the hearts (or should that be brains?) of many. But that wasn't the only game on the block – harking back to the sinister cobbled streets of Victorian London, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes was another quality title for fans of story driven games to sink their teeth into, in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's esteemed detective becomes the prime suspect in the very case he has been trying to solve.
As you can probably imagine given the game's protagonist, the Sherlock Holmes games have always been about solving all manner of complicated cases. When the 1890s police draw a blank and things are going down – often with grisly consequences – Sherlock Holmes is there at the scene with Watson in tow, ready to deduce the heck out of a series of crime scenes. Examining corpses for clues, talking with the inhabitants of the shady Whitechapel district and working your way through a load of tricky puzzles, Holmes manages to get to the bottom of each and every case, despite all the odds.
Unlike the detective's previous virtual adventures, which mostly focused on a single long and windy case, Crime & Punishment has a whopping eight cases to puzzle your way through, dealing with everything from murder and disappearances to spectacular thefts and many more in between. Interestingly, this time around, you'll have much more moral freedom, with every decision you make affecting your character's reputation – sometimes with what the developers describe as "unexpected consequences".
To go with the moral ambiguity, there's been a change in the overall style of the game too. Not content with his Victorian-gentleman chic from the older titles, they plan on replacing the 60s film Sherlock with a 'more modern' character, presumably akin to the recent Robert Downey Jr. Holmes, in order to reflect the “new artistic ambitions” of the next instalment. Along with the new outlook for Holmes, the graphics will be changing, too – the fancy computer program-thing that is responsible for the game's graphics, one which the developer's Frogware had painstakenly refined over Sherlock's previous six games, has been scrapped in favour of Epic's Unreal Engine 3. Which, if Gears of War is anything to go by, will be a veritable rainbow of brown, brown and more brown. Probably a fitting colour palette for smog-filled Victorian London, but not quite as pretty as you may hope.
Rounding out the changes for the new game is one that's perhaps the most significant of all, as for Crime & Punishment: Sherlock Holmes, the game appears to be moving away from its disc-based past, and becoming a downloadable game. Hitting the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network in the latter half of 2013 with no priced announced yet, Nintendo's newest console – the Wii U – is sadly noticeable by it's absence. Just thinking about the previous games makes us realise how well it would work on the Wii U GamePad, with it's Touch Screen letting you poke your way round the environments looking for clues and many of it's puzzles benefiting from the simplicity of the stylus and touch interface. Hopping a Knight around every square on a chessboard, rotating and examining a necklace and re-arranging numbered blocks to unlock a box would all be infinitely easier on the Touch Screen – to us it seems to make sense. So pretty please Frogware?
Unfortunately, there's not really much to go on of yet, except that it's due out in the latter half of next year. Hopefully there'll be more to go on in the next few months as they reveal more of Sherlock's story – either way, we can't wait.