Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter review: A dreadful case

Three weak cases, one decent, and a lackluster finale make Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter a marked step back from its predecessor.

Start jotting down notes, Watson, because we have a dreadful case today—one so nefarious and twisted so as to bring all the world to its knees. The players? Frogwares, Focus Home Interactive, and Bigben Interactive. And us, of course.

The question? What the hell happened between 2014’s Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments and 2016’s The Devil’s Daughter. I don’t quite have the answers, but I can say this: It wasn’t anything good.

A sorry affair

Frogwares’s Sherlock Holmes games have been on an upwards trajectory for so long, I honestly didn’t expect them to slip. Reviewing Crimes and Punishments two years ago, I was prompted to say the games had gone from guilty pleasure to “legitimately good.” That's quite a compliment for a series that started with what was essentially bad Holmes fanfiction.

Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter

And on the surface, The Devil’s Daughter seems in line with Crimes and Punishments. Many of that game’s standout features return, including the ability to either condemn or absolve a suspect unilaterally or apprehend the wrong suspect. That system marked a massive improvement over 2012’s Testament of Sherlock Holmes, and I expected The Devil’s Daughter to keep building off it.

Nope! Instead we get a carbon-copy clone of Crimes and Punishments, at least as far as the actual detective side of the equation. Once again you’ll hunt for clues, tie them together into leads in a separate menu, and then come to a conclusion.

Which would be fine, honestly—I’d play what's essentially more Crimes and Punishments—except the rest of the game is a chore.

Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter

Frogwares has long padded its Sherlock Holmes titles with ill-advised action sequences, usually heavy on button-matching QTEs and other design cues lifted from ten-years past. Some are so-bad-it’s-good (playing as Holmes’s dog in Testament) while others are plain bad (pretty much everything else).

It reaches a peak in The Devil’s Daughter. A solid 50 percent of this eight-hour game involves Holmes and occasionally Watson futzing through QTEs in order to forge a knife, revive an unconscious man, win a bar fight, or some other drudgery.

I’m not necessarily opposed to a younger and livelier Holmes, but that’s not what we get here. The Devil’s Daughter plays like a painful knock-off of third-person action games you actually enjoy. They’ve even implemented a poor man’s imitation of those horrid “Follow X” missions from Assassin’s Creed, complete with big “COVER” markers written on odds and ends scattered in the street.

Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter

Everything goes on twice as long as it should, and it’s ironic that the “action” sequences end up feeling like the most boring part of the entire game. Struggling through means fighting against the game’s floaty and finnicky controls, though kudos to Frogwares: You can skip any action section you’d like. Of course, when they make up fully half of an already-short game, you’re bound to feel cheated if you skip too many.

Still, I’d probably be willing to put up with even this level of tedium provided the cases were solid. As I said, this isn’t Frogwares’s first experiment with elevating Sherlock Holmes above its point-and-click roots. It’s egregious here, but I was willing to see the game through to the end.

It’s barely worth it, though. The Devil’s Daughter includes five cases on paper, but one of those is the equivalent of a TV show bottle episode (limited locales and few characters) and another (the finale) is a short sequence that might as well be on rails. Moreover, the best of the cases is on par with the weakest in Crimes and Punishments, and there’s a particularly-embarrassing and illogical foray into a Mayan temple—seriously—at one point that has about as much grounding in classic Holmes as Apocalypto.

Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter

Read more: The Division review

Positives? Well, The Devil’s Daughter is a better-looking game than its predecessor, with larger environs to explore. The trade-off though is that we’re stuck with redesigned-Holmes and Watson, both looking inexplicably twenty years younger than in Crimes and Punishments and seeming as if they fell out the pages of American Apparel’s 2016 catalog—complete with anachronistic undercut hairstyles. Farewell, Dad-Holmes. I’ll remember you fondly.

Bottom line

Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is a hard left over Reichenbach Falls. It’s Frogwares taking all the wrong lessons from Crimes and Punishments, turning out its least-coherent Sherlock games in ages and filling it with all sorts of mechanical drudgery. Such a shame.

Which brings us back to the main players in this saga: Focus and Bigben—the first being the former publisher for the series, the latter being new as of The Devil’s Daughter. Does that have something to do with this game’s (lack of) quality? Were there money issues perhaps? Or time constraints?

I’ve no idea, but whatever the issue: I hope it’s resolved next time around. Frogwares was onto something special with Crimes and Punishments. I’d hate for that to be the permanent high-water mark.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags games

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Hayden Dingman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Bitdefender solutions stop attacks before they even begin! Get cybersecurity that 500 MILLION users already have and trust.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?