Delivers a Proper Detective Story
We just a love a good conspiracy and the developers at Frogware have written a story that is worthy of the talent of Arthur Conan Doyle's literary legend, Sherlock Holmes. The game is intriguing with its zany twists and turns, the dialogue is delivered with wonderful panache, and the visuals, despite being dated, fit so well with the overall feel and tone of the narrative. Sherlock Holmes: The Silver Earring is an impressive little point and click adventure that has you switching between the detective and Watson as they search for clues, solve puzzles, talk to people, and gather all sorts of leads in order to find the mastermind behind a very puzzling murder.
It All Begins In a Party
The game's biggest hook is the opening scene. In 1897, Sherlock and Watson attend a homecoming party at the Sherringford Hall. The event is hosted by affable construction tycoon, Sir Melvyn Bromsby. The party does not get very far however, as the host is welcoming guests, he suddenly drops dead on the floor with a what appears to be a red stain appearing over his heart. And thus begins a massive quest for Sherlock to seek out how the murder was committed, and of course, the culprit behind the crime.
The rest of the story plays out like a scrapped Conan Doyle storyline. You get to meet familiar characters that are part of Sherlock's main series (Lestrange and the rest of the folks at the 'Yard for example), but also get to experience a completely new story if you have already read all the books. Yes, The Case of the Silver Earring is a completely new storyline that has not been based on the books (though for the most part, Frogware's Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series does tend to stray away from the original literature -often with very fun and entertaining results).
Superior Sleuthing Skills
Sherlock Holmes is best known for being a detective, and while he can certainly hold his own in a scuffle, the best way to experience his skills is through his investigative abilities. Thankfully, this game capitalizes on that very heavily. Players must collective evidence and other clues from locations. Just picking things up is not enough, however, each piece must be meticulously studied in order to fully understand why they are important in the first place (or if they are not). Players are encouraged to take the time to read and study conversation transcripts and item descriptions in Holme's notebook.
Moving around to explore is a little clunky as the controls are not always as responsive. Since the game rarely brings you to dangerous sitations, this is something that can be easily tolerated. Though there are a few pints in the game that feel absolutely frustrating due to the movement system -this is particularly true later on in the game when the player encounters a forest maze.
Yes, There is a Quiz Afterwards.
At the end of each major point in the game, the player is quizzed about Sherlock Holmes and the case -and you need to get the answers right. Getting the right answer is more than just choosing the right letter from a list, you also need to present the proper evidence to support your claim. This might seem pretty brutal, but it is an effective way to capitalize on the use of the investigative process. We find it particularly satisfying when we get everything in the quiz right the first time around.
The entire game spirals out pretty fast -from investigating a murder to suddenly needing to solve a puzzle that involves as whole chessboard full of numbered chils. The game's nice visuals help set the atmosphere while the narrative pushes ever forward -making you want to carefully ensure that not a single stone has been left unturned. The game is a classic whodunit, and while it may not seem so obvious in Sherlock Holmes: The Silver Earring, the mystery is one of the best Sherlock cases we have ever played.