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Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments is an investigation game in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series. The game was developed by Frogwares and published by Focus Home Interactive for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One and debuted on September 30, 2014.

The game takes place in London and its suburbs in the 19th century. It features a focus on finding the right suspect and making the moral choice of absolving or condemning them. The game is the first in the series to use the Unreal Engine 3, and was inspired by both Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories and the BBC's Sherlock television series.

The game is split into seven cases such as murders, disappearances, thefts, etc. written in the tradition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels.

Gameplay

The majority of the game involves exploring crime scenes and examining clues. Once discovered, clues are added to a "deduction board", a gameplay mechanic which involves linking pieces of information (which appear as neurons) together. Once deductions are connected together, the player will have a full tree of deductions. Depending on how player interprets the clues, they will have different conclusions. Therefore, the player can fail or succeed in finding the culprit. Whether or not Sherlock absolves or condemns said chosen culprits is up to the player's choice. The moral choice the player makes will influence the further gameplay. Each case has 3-5 possible solutions; in total there are 6-10 different endings for each case. Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments offers 14 investigation mechanics, including Sherlock Holmes' skill to deduce many details about someone's life simply by glancing at them or to imagine and reconstruct the course of an event by carefully observing all the key details of a crime scene.

There are two camera views available – a first-person and third-person point of view. The player is able to change between them at any time. Sherlock can also draw evidence from autopsies and and profiles of the people he meets. For the latter, players enter a first-person view for an up-close inspection of a character's face and emotions, clothing and belongings, where they can find everything from scars and bruises to the quality of an outfit.

Frogwares tweaked the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series to be more modern with the introduction of "Sherlock Vision", a mechanic aids the player in highlighting evidence that would otherwise be missed. For example, through Sherlock Vision, players can look at a dusty bookcase shelves and notice that a chest has been taken from the shelf, or that an item may have a hidden inscription on it. Prior to the game's release, Frogwares' business developer Olga Ryzhko stated that Sherlock Vision would help take the series to the "next level". Ryzhko called the game the "most challenging, most sophisticated" Sherlock game yet, and said the development team has built on previous games' mechanics while tweaking them slightly for a more modern feel. In Sherlock: Crimes & Punishments, while using Sherlock Vision, text will appear detailing what Sherlock is thinking, such as how approaching footsteps sound and who might be at the door.

Plot

The game spans several several years, and several of Holmes' high profile cases. London is under threat from a terrorist group known as The Merry Men. Holmes however seems disinterested in investigating the case.

Cases

The Fate of Black Peter

The case opens in 1895. Watson walks in on Holmes shooting blindfolded at a set of Limoges vases to cure his boredom. Fortunately Inspector Lestrade soon enters, bringing Holmes a new case. The victim, Peter Carey, was a former whaler and sealer in the waters off Scandinavia who made a small fortune in that business. He took his money and retired to a house called Woodman's Lee, near Forest Row in Sussex until he was found dead the previous day. Lestrade asks Holmes to meet him at Woodman's Lee, though he first has to stop by Scotland Yard to be briefed about the robbery of a powder store by a group called the "Merry Men".

Upon arriving at Woodman's Lee Holmes meets with Carey's wife, Judith, and questions her. Mrs. Carey tells Holmes that the night of the murder her husband was drunk and locked himself in a small cabin in the garden, as he often did. The next morning she found him dead. On investigating the cabin Holmes finds scratches around the lock that indicate an attempted break-in; Lestrade informs him they were not there the previous day. Inside the cabin Holmes finds the body of Peter Carey pinned to the wall by a harpoon. There is also tobacco pouch bearing the initials P.C. and two glasses set out for drinking, although Mrs. Carey said her husband rarely had visitors: nevertheless, the way Mr. Carey was dressed also indicates he had been expecting company. On a shelf a small disturbance in the dust indicates that a small box has been taken: Holmes also finds a notebook with the initials J.H.N embossed on the front, which is filled with numerous abbreviations followed strings of numbers. Holmes announces to Lestrade that it would be best to wait outside the cabin at night, as it was likely the suspect would attempt to enter the cabin again. Holmes is proved correct when their ambush catches John Hopley Neligan, whom Lestrade takes back with him to Scotland Yard.

On interrogating Neligan the following day Holmes discovers Neligan is the son of the disgraced banker Joshua Neligan, who disappeared with a box of valuable securities following the bankruptcy of his firm. Neligan claims that his father only wanted to buy time in order to recoup the money to pay his creditors, and so set sail in a boat for Scandinavia, but was never heard from again. After some of the missing securities began resurfacing in London, Neligan tracked them to their source in Peter Carey; he therefor suspects Carey may have found his father and murdered him. Neligan is, however, a slight young man, and Holmes, experimenting with a harpoon on a dead pig, discovers it would either take exceptional strength and training or else extraordinary good luck to pin a man to the wall with such a weapon.

At this point Holmes may determine that Neligan is the murderer, and may decide to either condemn him or absolve him. Either way Neligan will be sent to prison, though if Holmes decides to absolve him he will argue that Neligan killed Carey in self-defense. Neligan will either way continue to proclaim his innocence.

Holmes, interested in knowing what exactly happened on board the Sea Unicorn in 1883, sends Wiggins to find what remains of its crew in London. Lestrade, however, summons Holmes to Scotland Yard, as a new suspect has been found: Liam Hurtley, a suspicious man who was found hovering around Woodman's Lee. Hurtley refuses to talk, but Holmes quickly deduces he was the gardener, although Mrs. Carey denies employing him. Holmes soon discovers this is because Mrs. Carey suspects he in fact murdered her husband, as they had been romantically involved, which is proven by a box of love letters hidden in the shed.

At last Wiggins later returns with a list of possible suspects. The best lead is Patrick Cairns, a harpoonist who sailed with Captain Carey but who has been out of work for some time. Holmes learns that Cairns he was the only witness to what happened to Joshua Neligan, who was indeed picked up by the Sea Unicorn but who was thrown overboard during the night on Carey's orders; the captain then stole the securities for himself. Holmes determines that Cairns was at the scene of the crime when he realizes the tobacco pouch found at the cabin belonged to Cairns, not Carey.

At this point Holmes may determine that Neligan is the murderer, and may decide to either condemn him or absolve him. Either way Neligan will be sent to prison, though if Holmes decides to absolve him he will argue that Neligan killed Carey in self-defense. Neligan will either way continue to proclaim his innocence.

Alternatively, Holmes may determine that Hurtley is the murderer, and must decide to either condemn him or absolve him. If Holmes decides to absolve him he will argue that an irate and drunk Carey invited Hurtley into his cabin for drinks before attacking him. Hurtley nevertheless continues either way to declare he is innocent.

It is also possible for Holmes to conclude that both Neligan and Hurtley are guilty and that they worked together, as pinning Carey to the wall with the harpoon was too great a feat for one man to accomplish. Holmes must then determine whether Neligan or Hurtley was the instigator of the murder; Hurtley will allege that Neligan threatened him, and Neligan that he is innocent, but Hurtley will confess if Holmes determines it was Neligan's plot.

Finally, Holmes may determine that Cairns was the murderer, and must decide whether to condemn or absolve him. Cairns will arrive at 221B Baker Street the following day, expecting to meet a Captain Ahab regarding a whaling contract. If Holmes decides to condemn Cairns, Lestrade will attempt to arrest him but Cairns will resist by punching Lestrade. Holmes must spar with Cairns to subdue him. On the other hand, if Holmes decides to absolve Cairns he will meet him alone, and Cairns will confess: he attempted to blackmail Carey over the murder for money, but Carey attacked him and he was forced to defend himself with the harpoon. Holmes will allow Cairns to leave the country, and reports to Inspector Lestrade that the murderer was Pablo Coventrao, another of Carey's shipmates who had died the previous week.

Riddle on the Rails

Following the success of their previous case, Holmes and Watson are visited by Mycroft, who asks Holmes to look into the Merry Men case. Holmes refuses to do so, as he is going on vacation with Watson to Staffordshire. One week later Holmes and Watson have finished their vacation and are waiting at Evesham Station for their train back to London. Both men are confounded when after seeing the approaching headlight and hearing the train whistle, however, the train never reaches the station. The two must give up on investigating that night due to the fog and dark.

The following day they return to investigate the tracks, but find no traces of the train whatsoever. After investigating Station Master Everett, the two search the station office where they find a diagram detailing that the train included a special car, which Everett informs them was specially ordered and highly secure. The car was ordered by a Mr. Robinson, who a telegraph informs them is currently waiting at Bridlington Station.

Holmes may ultimately conclude that Robinson is a swindler who wanted to collect insurance money on his prototype; that the Chilean Barcazas company stole the prototype; or that the Mexican Caracal company either sealed in or drowned the board of the Barcazas company in revenge.

Blood Bath

Holmes and Watson are called to the Roman baths at Strand Lane by Lestrade. The bath's chief archaeologist, Sir Rodney Bentcliffe, has been murdered in the steam room. Since the room was locked from the outside, the three suspects are the three men in the room with him at the time: Sir Gregory Pitkin, the bath's owner; Tristram Garrow, a district councillor; and Percival Blinkhorn, Sir Rodney's assistant in the excavations.

Holmes may ultimately conclude that Sir Gregory killed Sir Rodney to prevent his discovery leading to the nationalization of the baths; that Garrow killed him in a fit of paranoid obsession; or that Blinkhorn killed him when Sir Rodney attempted to steal credit for his discoveries. Each motive must then be paired with either a silver or an ice knife.

The Abbey Grange Affair

On a rainy night in November 1894, Holmes awakens Watson abruptly, announcing that a letter has come from Lestrade regarding an unusual case. Sir Eustace Brackenstall of Abbey Grange has been murdered in an apparent robbery in his home. Upon arriving at Abbey Grange, Lestrade informs Holmes that the case has already been solved: based on statements from Brackenstall's wife, Lady Mary, and her maid, Theresa Wright, Lestrade has concluded that the culprit is the infamous Randall gang, a father and two sons, which have committed several other burglaries in the neighborhood. Holmes, however, is not convinced all is as it appears.

Holmes may ultimately conclude that the Randalls are guilty; that Lady Brackenstall killed her husband accidentally in a domestic accident; or that Lady Brackenstall's friend Captain Jack Crocker killed him after he discovered the two together.

The Kew Gardens Drama

Holmes and Watson visit Kew Gardens to investigate the theft of some rare plants from an exhibition. While there, they discover that the previous director of the gardens, Montague Dunne, has recently perished under mysterious circumstances. Holmes soon comes to realize that the two events are in fact closely and inseparably linked.

Holmes may initially conclude that the Divine Syndicate is guilty, and that they murdered Dunne due to a dispute over the plants; after further investigation this option will become unavailable. He may then conclude that Albert Dunne is the killer, and that he murdered his father over years of humiliation; that Margaret White is the killer, and murdered him in desperation when he broke off their relationship; or that Martyn Hamish is the killer, with the motive of ambition of becoming director and bitterness towards Dunne for ruining his and his father's careers. If Holmes accuses Hamish of the murder, he will find that he has committed suicide: Holmes must then decide if Hamish acted alone, or if he was assisted by Albert or Miss White.

A Half-Moon Walk

While preparing for the annual dinner of the Baker Street Irregulars, Holmes is interrupted by Wiggins, whose brother Leighton Chapman has been arrested for the murder of two men, Brian Vercotti and Kenneth Butler. Though Lestrade considers the evidence unassailable, Leighton maintains his innocence. On investigating, Holmes realizes that the case is far more complex than it initially appears, involving the theft of an ancient Greek treasure.

Holmes may primarily conclude that Chapman committed the murder over a long-standing grudge against Vercotti, or else that Chapman killed the men to steal the Mytilene Treasure. After further investigation, the only option will be to conclude that the murder was committed by a member of Charles Foley's troupe, and that the latter organized the theft of the Mytilene treasure on behalf of the Merry Men, who plan to start a revolution in London.

Confrontation with The Merry Men

Holmes will return to the circus tent confront the Merry Men, who have been collecting barrels of gunpowder which they intend to use to bomb the London Stock Exchange. The leader explains that by destroying its records they hope to show the people they are free, and spark an uprising against the ruling classes. He will attempt to convince Holmes to let them proceed, arguing that the corruption of the British government and inequality in society has placed real justice out of reach of the poor. He assures Holmes that no one will be injured. The player is left with the choice to either stop them by detonating the gunpowder, or else allow them to carry out their plan.

Trivia

  • "The Fate of Black Peter" is based on The Adventure of Black Peter.
  • "Riddle on the Rails" is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1898 short story The Lost Special. Though Holmes is never mentioned by name in the story, one character is heavily implied to be him.
  • "The Abbey Grange Affair" is based on The Adventure of the Abbey Grange.
  • "The Fate of Black Peter" is set in 1890; "The Abbey Grange Affair" is set on November 7, 1894. The original stories are set in 1895 and 1897, respectively.

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