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