Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened - PC Review

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened by developer Developer and publisher Frogwares—PC (Steam) review written by Susan N. with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Intro To Review

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened is a game that has Sherlock and Dr. Watson delving into the unknown with its Cthulhu-themed investigations. The game is meant to showcase the deep friendship forged between the two characters which end up lasting for many years to come. Not only are we all for this aspect, but Frogwares neatly places The Awakened directly after Chapter One.

What we found in this Sherlock Holmes installment is a little bit of everything: fear, dread, disgust, madness, and entertainment. Despite hitting a lot of positive beats, there are some things that were missing that didn't detract from our enjoyment but felt like there could have been a little bit more. Nonetheless, The Awakened is a solid game that we really loved playing.


As Sherlock has said time and again about his investigations, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” We can think of no better way to describe some of the events that occur in The Awakened, a game that is quite satisfying and also mystifying at the same time. 

Beginning with a fruitless case of the missing newspaper, we are ‘taught’ how to play the game. Some will remember how the mind palace works from Chapter One or will recall the importance of pinning evidence during an investigation, where others might be seeing this system for the first time. 

A Detective On The Case

During the brief tutorial investigation, we are shown how to pin evidence, using observations and clues to figure out what happened, and ultimately we can piece it all together in the mind palace to track down the suspect. What is interesting about The Awakened are the ways in which Frogwares simplified certain aspects of the game and the obvious omissions of certain elements that were present in Chapter One. 

Examples of elements that are included in The Awakened is a minor bit of eavesdropping, but it is not atrocious like it was in Chapter One. Another aspect found in Chapter One that is also present here is the use of the same symbols to indicate the type of investigative method needed to solve a crime. Also, included in the game is the use of disguises and the visualizations of crimes. These are all aspects of the game that we enjoy and appreciate in The Awakened - although there are some aspects of these inclusions which were not used as often as expected like the disguises. 

Missing Puzzle Pieces

Despite the inclusions in The Awakened, there were things that were done away with. Notably, the combat system is not present. Many of the fanbase expressed their dislike of the combat system in Chapter One, and although it was neat how it was done, I was not particularly interested in that aspect of the game. Anyways, there were brief instances where things need to be shot in order to progress the story, but they are further along and sparsely used. Although, it does need to be stated that the speed at which you can aim is awful.

The lack of scientific testing is notable as well. This was something that Chapter One had, that was quite enjoyable, although it isn’t an aspect that is needed in The Awakened. And while it was something we found made investigation interesting and unique compared to other games, there was no place for this feature to be included, which is a shame.

I also noticed the lack of failure states and side quests. Unlike Chapter One, this game was much more focused on one complete and linear narrative. It was a ride from start to finish and had me scratching my head at some of the horrors presented in this installment, which was fantastic. I just felt that a few extra side quests would have added more to the experience. Also, having a lack of failure states took away from the potential to make Sherlock truly mad. Depending on the false accusations made against characters could have influenced the level of chaos that could have been seen, which would have been fascinating.

Bow Down To Cthulhu

I’ll be honest, I was a bit fearful of this title simply because of the insanity that it could bring to the table. Cthulhu, and the mythos surrounding the Great Old One is intriguing, strange, and bordering on psychotic which is an aspect of the game that is packaged well enough, yet The Awakened came off as creepy as opposed to scary - a point which I’m freakishly happy about. Narrative designers did an excellent job at putting together a story that is out of this world - literally. And through the events that Sherlock and Watson experience together strengthens their bond as the super sleuths they become. I found this particularly true as both Watson and Sherlock are playable at various stages of the game.  


Despite the bleak overtones of the subject matter and color palette, The Awakened has some beautiful graphics. Scenes range from a strangely familiar mansion to incredibly detailed crime scenes - especially the largest one in the game - to the twisted experiences Sherlock sees as he begins to lose his sanity. Even when the two travel across country, we are shown real emotion from the protagonists as well as amazing landscapes. In some cases, the scenes we investigate have just enough detail to be stomach turning - a point which adds to the atmosphere but also may cause some players to turn their heads away. 

That said, there are a few minor aspects of the graphics which weren’t amazing. To begin with, the mind palace has three different types of clues. One is observations, one is items, and the third is descriptions. The issue with two of the three types of clues is that the colors are too close together. One is green while the other is blue and the specific shades of those two colors are close enough that it is easy to confuse them. 

Another minor gripe with the graphics occurs leading into cutscenes or out of the minds eye analyzation windows. Occasionally the game would freeze for a few moments. And on select few occasions, Watson would physically be in the way of a particular path. Thankfully, neither gripe interfered with gameplay where it crashed or broke anything, which is why they are minor.

Audio and Music

The audio in The Awakened is incredibly well done. There is a ton of voice acting and not a lot of repetition in dialogue when talking to NPCs. In fact, there is quite the gamut of accents used throughout the game as Sherlock and Watson travel to a couple of different places to solve particularly gruesome crimes. 

Sound effects used in The Awakened is also fantastic. Not only do the sound effects add to the realism of the game, but they can be the key to solving certain puzzles. There isn’t one that requires the playing of a Violin like in Chapter One, but the use of sound does make it easier to progress at times.

Considering there was only one person listed in the credits for the sound effects and the music, they did a brilliant job at creating the right atmosphere which set the tone for the entire game. Unlike other games, I was weirdly aware of the audio and music in The Awakened. Perhaps it was due to paranoia? Who knows?

Elementary Dear Watson

After making it all the way to the end of the game, I found myself satisfied with the story it told, the resolution of several characters, and the bond strengthened by the extraordinary case that Sherlock and Watson see through to the end. I also found myself wanting a bit more of what was delivered in Chapter One because many side quests were quite interesting. The Awakened only has a couple of side missions that can be found and ‘completed’ but having a couple more would have made it feel a little more fleshed out.

Even though there were aspects that I wish were present in The Awakened, this game did a fantastic job giving us a solid story and character building. Like its predecessor, The Awakened sets the foundation for more Sherlock titles (hopefully) which I’m all for.

Overall, The Awakened is a devious and twisted entry into the Sherlock series, and it is worthwhile to play. While I cannot speak to the similarities and differences from the original game, I can say that the adaptations made to fit smoothly after the events of Chapter One is fantastic. And I personally hope to have more investigative Sherlock games in the future!

Score: 8 out of 10

Article by: Susan N.



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