Sherlock Holmes And The Case Of Dementia

By John Walker on April 26th, 2012 at 7:00 pm.

What explanation could there be for this ghostly dog? Oh, it's a ghostly dog.

What is it with games and classic literature? Ever since I’ve been doing this ridiculous job, I’ve been plagued by the utter nonsense of companies who take a 19th century novel, then tear half the pages out and replace them with a child’s home-made comics about aliens. It’s as if there’s a wanton conspiracy to ensure that anything that might be a serious work of literature be allowed nowhere near a game. Although of course, perhaps I’m letting myself get a bit too worked up over a hidden object game based on Sherlock Holmes. You could also argue that it’s an excuse to link to a Kickstarter at the bottom of the post, just because I want to play the game, but if you did I’d punch you square in the nose.

I’m very much in favour of the public domain. I find copyright in its current form genuinely sickening, and the grotesque purchasing of laws to expand copyright power and longevity makes me utterly furious. Of course creative works should enter the public domain after a set time, and all who fight to stop it are complete scum. But perhaps we could make an exception for Sherlock Holmes?

And H.G. Wells. And Jules Verne. Just an exception for games developers. Where the rules are they have to run anything they want to make past me first, before it can proceed.

Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of The Baskervilles is surely the work of someone whose only experience of the great detective is having once watched Young Sherlock Holmes, and being told there was something about a big ghost dog. The result is the most astonishing mishmash of supernatural piffle you could imagine. Ghostly paintings change their appearances, a mysterious amulet claims great powers, and a curse that has killed generations of the Baskervilles family for many years. It does sound like the beginning of a later Holmes adventure, at the point where Doyle had become entirely embroiled in spiritualism and the occult. But unlike even those tales, where Holmes’ stalwart skepticism and cynicism ensured that a perfectly logical explanation was eventually discovered, here everything just goes batshit insane.

I like to think that Holmes, at a certain point, had become a screaming voice of sanity in Doyle’s head. Here, in what I’m sure you’re wanting to remind me is just another crappy casual game, he hilariously persists that logical explanations will become apparent later as they start going back in time.

It’s actually not just another crappy casual game. Despite the grievous mutilation of Sir Doyle’s work, this is another example of a game that’s closer to a classic adventure than a hidden object. The silly object hunts are scattered throughout, and I still defy anyone to not become engaged with such a thing when it’s put in front of them. I am unashamed to say I find them great distracting fun, something ideal to accompany a podcast for instance. But here they’re surrounded by a larger game of inventory gathering, and puzzle solving. It’s not a good adventure game, but it’s a better than average casual game. If you see what I mean.

But really my motivation to proceed with this one was purely to see if it was really going to try to wriggle out of all the nonsense that had happened (perhaps argue it was magic science smoke, for instance…), or just abandon anything Sherlock Holmes has ever been about. You may be assured it’s the latter. The mystery of the hound killing off generations of the Baskervilles is slightly less of a mystery when it turns out that it is a magical ghost hound killing off generations of the Baskervilles. It does somewhat miss the point. You could argue.

But you know what? Bloody well give money to this game. $40,000 ideally. Because they respected the source material, and were cheesy greatness. And I flipping want to play them again.

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19 Comments »

  1. wisnoskij says:

    Young Sherlock Holmes was great and spiritually correct even if it was canonically incorrect.

  2. Fede says:

    Actually, according to Kieron there was at least one which wasn’t bad about les miserables. Did you try it? It’s also kind of an adventure game.

  3. emertonom says:

    When I saw the title of this post, I couldn’t help thinking of this Mitchell and Webb skit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pp02ubGuTIU

  4. wccrawford says:

    I was already in for this one. It sounds like it could be good, and I really hope they make it.

  5. PearlChoco says:

    Yes, people should support this kickstarter.

    I really LOVED the consulting detective series! One of the few games that really made you feel a detective, instead of playing a game. Best FMV game I ever played (didn’t play Gabriel Knight 2 though).

    Come on people, these games need to be remade with HD quality video!

  6. Wahngrok says:

    I remember seeing a friend play this back in … must have been the early 90s. This was the first game I saw featuring FMV. The games are worth more than $9 so I gladly pitched in 20. I hope more will join in during the final hours.

  7. gritz says:

    It’s hard to get upset about these sorts of bad Sherlock games/stories when you remember that the original Sherlock Holmes fan base basically invented bad fanfiction:

    http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/17-05/pl_brown

    Sure, I’d appreciate if more games/movies/stories approached the character in a way that more closesly resembles Doyle’s, but you kind of have to come to terms with the fact that everyone from Guy Richie to Frogwares is going to put their spin on him.

  8. Gpig says:

    Hm. “Classic literature” and “Sherlock Holmes” in the same sentence. Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter are certainly classics, but they’re classic genre fiction. They’re very good at what they do*, but what they do is very different from what classic literature tries to do. Ghosts aren’t any more ridiculous than a snake climbing up a rope being the “obvious” solution to a problem.

    *There are obviously some terrible stories like The Speckled Band, but just move on to the next one because there’s such a high hit rate.

    • brulleks says:

      I’m intrigued. What exactly is it that you think classic literature is ‘trying to do’ ?

      And perhaps you’d like to cite some examples of what you believe to be ‘classic literature’?

      I’d also love to know if you consider Poe to be classic literature, or just another genre writer?

  9. archcorenth says:

    This was by Frogwares who makes the regular Sherlock Holmes adventure games, which I think are quite good, if a bit on the easy side. This one was set-up at the end of Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper. Sherlock tells Watson that he can’t tell the story of Jack the Ripper in his column because of the way the story turned out, and instead to just make something up, and the story of this game is what Watson comes up with. So it’s not like they completely abandoned the conventions of Sherlock Holmes of it, since in the Frogware “Sherlock Holmes universe” it doesn’t actually happen. All of their other games have rational conclusions, sometimes even at the expense of the story (as in the Awakened).

  10. jrodman says:

    I’m having trouble getting excited about kickstarting a hidden object game.
    I tend to think of this category of game as enjoyable but throwaway, not minding the odd purchase and play, but generally ignoring them.

    Anyone care to change my mind about this one?

    • adonf says:

      I don’t think that the game on KS is of the hidden object type. See my comment just below your.

      According to this web site Consulting Detective is a series of FMV games from the 1990s. Maybe that’s explained in the KS video but who watches videos on the internet anyways.

  11. adonf says:

    I’m confused. Are we supposed to donate to a game that’s crap? A little back story or links to product pages would be greatly appreciated.

    edit: Ok, I got it SH and the Hounds of the Baskervilles is not related to the Kickstarter game(s). Still I believe that a little exposition or context or whatever fancy word you writers use to mean “explain what is bloody going on” wouldn’t hurt here. It’s not like the Baskervilles game is so widely known, is it?

  12. Bhazor says:

    I just want to point out that the third story did include a speed boat chase and Holmes abandoning a case to go to a flute gig. Basically its a far sillier setting than some people seem to realise.

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