Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper  - Review

Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper
Ages: Teen

One of the best Sherlock Holmes mystery adventures yet - you feel like you are watchng a BBC presentation. Baker street and the Whitechapel area are populated with people - dressed in the colorful clothing of the 19th century. Varied London dialog comes from the mouths of different street people and lip sync does a close approximating and lips don't move past the sentences. All the dialogue is voiced and if you have difficulty understanding Cockney dialog, there is an option for subtitles.

People are moving about London constantly. You see a vagrant hitting the bottle, the next time you pass the corner, he is sleeping it off, and later, the corner is empty. The prostitute's business - called exercises - shows women with their men, embracing and fondling each other in the dark alleys.

The story hews close to the details actually uncovered during the investigations of the origianl Jack-the-Ripper murders, making it exciting to ride along with Holmes to solve the mystery - and he does. You do not see any of the murders committed, but instead see a crude graphic of the body. The description and Holmes' reenactment of the murder is quite enough to provide a chill. The Ripper was truly a crazed barbarian. There are some "I'll give you this, if you do me a favor" quests and a few mechanical and put together ones but the core of the puzzle solving is to put together clues - observation, analysis and deduction - to come up with true and logical conclusions. Game play cannot proceed until all clues and conclusions are put in order after each murder. Each of the five murders adds to the solution board until the final accusation.

A word of advice to players. I stumbled upon two problems. At the very beginning, do not neglect to check the clock in the church. You can proceed without doing it but later you will not be able to correct the timeline for the murderers. The other, I neglected to click on "yes" for the wide screen option for our graphics setup. This made it impossible to click on a necessary item later on, since it did not appear on the screen in the appropriate view. You have to make sure that the entire graphics screen is visible in your setup.

Fun Factor: Amazing that such an ugly story can be told with such good grace. Play for the ambiance - stay for the solution.
Female Factor: Only as victims.
Player Friendly: Good manual. Easy saves. Unforgiving missed visit at the beginning.

Reviewed by: Editor - 06/09

It's well written with an incredible keen eye for detail, background and even the non-plot character movements. Holmes fans will no doubt enjoy this game for the many visual references to the various cases in the Conan Doyle stories. Placing this story after those mysteries and after Watson had married, it does take liberties strict aficionados will not care for. Pitting Holmes against Jack the Ripper is a far more grisly premise than any of the Doyle stories. At one point Holmes chastises Watson for weak assistance, which Holmes never did. That aside, the puzzles range from simple to quite challenging. The progression of the story is logical and, with each murder victim investigation, holds plenty of complexity.

The keenest point to note is that for such touchy social subjects (prostitution and syphilis) and grisly events (murder and evisceration) the game incredibly manages to handle both with a softer than expected approach. This is not to say it doesn't have its share of creepy effects. The prostitutes are referred to as "exercising" with no further detail. Body examination is displayed in colorless, fully clothed sketches that convey the point without too much offense and the organ discussion also involves sketches or clay models. A mimed reenactment, sans bodies, of the murders toward the end is particularly chilling, with it's portrayal of a madman.

One major difficulty encountered is that some clues are rather innocuous and if you don't catch them at the time you should, the game will not move forward - without remedy. For example, a clock across from the clinic must be noticed upon the first visit when it isn't necessary and a final deduction scene will not complete unless the clues are in a certain order and in certain stacked fashion. Then magically the mannequin appears next to the board and you are able to place the face onto it. Only then can you continue to the conclusion.

The map used frequently is very busy and with smaller monitors will be slightly difficult to decipher. The various manipulations that must be completed in certain scenes can also get tedious. But the graphics, atmosphere, scene angles and brain teasers are wonderful, which takes this game above others.

Reviewed by: Adison Garzon - 06/09

  • Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper
  • © The Adventure Company/Frogware
  • Platform(s): WVISTA XP
  • To Order: Win $18.99