During a trip to visit Gamer Girlfriend, she and I had the chance to play through Sherlock Holmes Vs Jack The Ripper on Xbox 360. At first glance, this game seems utterly terrible. The character animations are rigid and dated, the texturing is blocky and, again, dated and the controls are awkward and confusing. To add the list of accolades, the voice acting is rubbish on most accounts and the puzzles vary from kindergarten level difficulty to inexplicably brain melting. What makes the very difficult puzzles so is the means the game uses to convey what you are expected to do.
When entering into several of the puzzles you happen across in the game, you often have nothing to go on save for anything contextual you may glean from the dialog. Even when you can do so, the puzzle still remains confusing, and the “help” button does anything but. Clicking the assigned button for help only explains the basic movement principles, which anyone with an education above fifth grade could work out for themselves. What remains unspecified are the finer details needed to determine how one would approach solving the puzzle.
With the numerous faults out of the way, I can get on to what made the game fun despite its ubiquitous faults. Firstly, the game deals with one of the most intriguing unsolved mysteries of all time while simultaneously placing a fictional well-loved character into it. The case is handled faithfully, and in essence really just becomes another Jack The Ripper theory with a nice story flourish tossed in. Even with the poor graphics, the player does get a sense of what London looked like in the 1800s, which further serves to immerse the player into the solving of the case.
What also made this game enjoyable is that, unlike most games, the value of the game was not dependent on whom was using the controller. With no action to speak of other than running from place to place and endlessly searching the environment to complete the next puzzle, the controller does very little. What this means is that the puzzles and the mystery can be tackled as a team, and this is exactly what happened with Gamer Girlfriend and I.
This game plays as though it was a port to console from a PC title made 10 years ago, but despite its many shortcomings it is worth the few hours you would put into it to have something to play with a friend or a loved one. I would also recommend it to someone new to consoles as the pace and control requirements of the game could serve well to get someone used to the controller. For gamers interested in increasing their gamer score, the game requires very little be done to gain the achievements. Had a glitch not prevented us from doing so, we would have gotten every single achievement, so the game can also act as a nice buffer to your achievement score… if you’re into that sort of thing.
Most interestingly, this game sparked a renewed fascination in the Whitechapel murders and was surprisingly accurate to the facts of the case, making it a perfect starting point for some personal Ripperology.