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We interview Frogwares: The masterminds behind Sherlock Holmes in gaming

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I have a peculiar obsession with Sherlock Holmes - I've read countless books, seen almost every movie, and played some of the Sherlock Holmes games - of which my favorites are from Frogwares. I am not the only person sharing this fascination, Holmes is undoubtedly the world's favorite sleuth. His legacy spans across centuries, and as time unfolded his character seemed to ingrain itself within the psyche of young and old.

The ultimate Sherlock Holmes experience is when we can "live" as him; walk in his shoes, direct his reasoning and apply his detective skills. That is why I love gaming - it provides a platform for us to immersive ourselves in a way other mediums cannot.

The team at Frogwares is without a doubt masters of the Sherlock Holmes universe. They hold all the keys to unlock a Sherlock Holmes experience that will make your mind reel, clutch your imagination firmly in its plot and force you to apply your deduction skills to its breaking point. I had the tremendous pleasure to try and pry a few secrets from the superior sleuths at Frogwares - I was rewarded for my effort with the following interview.


For decades, Sherlock Holmes has been a favourite in literature, film and gaming. Why is Sherlock Holmes immortal?  

Decades? It is 126 years now since his first appear in literature. A Study in Scarlet introduced the "consulting detective" Sherlock Holmes and his friend and chronicler Dr John Watson; they later became two of the most famous literary characters in detective fiction.

There is something like 255 movie adaptations of the detective as we speak and there are some in production. I’d say the world is obsessed with the character of Sherlock Holmes. They say one can never have enough of Mr Holmes and I personally find this amazing.

What are the building blocks for making an exceptional Sherlock Holmes game?

Still looking for them, 13 years already. Today our main focus though is set on putting the player into the shoes of the detective, making him believe he is Sherlock Holmes, not following him or playing aside the detective but truly being Sherlock Holmes. I will let you know if this changes.

Puzzles are a vital component of Sherlock Holmes. How are you able to throw so many, with such different levels at us with every new release?  

Thank you! Though with the new game we plan to decrease the number of the so-called ‘standard’ puzzles and offer something different instead. There is something like 14 new gameplay mechanics that will focus more on the investigation part of the game.


How do you ensure that Sherlock Holmes as a video games character stays true to the original Sherlock created by Sir Arthur Doyle?

Research! We are like biggest Sherlock Holmes fans and we put a lot of efforts in order to stay loyal to the Canon of Sherlock Holmes; even though most of our games have their own fictional plot.  

Do you plan to release Sherlock Holmes on mobile devices?

Well, we actually did! You can already enjoy Mystery of the Mummy, The Awakened and Hound of the Baskervilles on iOS devices, iPhones and iPads.

The Deduction Board in Testament was a real gem. Are you planning to make more use of it in Crimes & Punishments?

Thank you. The deduction itself is one of the most significant features of the detective; his way of thinking attracts. This is what we tried to present in our previous games, Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper and the latest The Testament of Sherlock Holmes.

As for Crimes and Punishments, we would like to go further with this game. This time we would like literally to enter the brain of the sleuth and follow the threads of his thoughts; to see his fast connections and its visualizations when linking all those clues and leads. That is why we change the look of the Deduction Board but not its idea.  


What's the most significant improvements from Testament to Crimes & Punishments?

Very hard to say. We change almost everything!

Crimes and Punishments differs drastically from the previous games we made. It is built with Unreal Engine, the game looks absolutely beautiful with different cinematic effects. It is split into several cases, so you will end up investigating on several crimes rather than one big story that we used to have. There is an ability for the player to fail into finding the right culprit and therefore accusing the wrong person or releasing the guilt free. And finally influencing the story of the game as any decision you make will have its consequences. It just a few that I mention but there is more.  


My only complaint about testament was the voice acting which wasn't in sync with the facial animations. Did you improve on that in Crimes & Punishments?

Every complaint the players communicated to us was heard and considered; we take it very personally. So yes, we are putting a lot of attention to the facial animations and lip synchronizing.  

My Deduction

I can just imagine the overlords at Frogwares looking down on us, smiling sadistically as we plot our way through case after case, nodding knowingly to each other that, "it is not simplicity itself".   

It was an honor to talk to the elusive Olga Ryzhko, the marketing and business development manger from team Frogwares. She kept a firm lid on the Sherlock Holmes secrets, revealing just enough to add another dose of curiosity to my imagination. Crimes and Punishments awaits!

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