The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: Case of the Serrated Scalpel
First published in 1992 and recently re-released on CD-ROM, Lost Files is easily one of the best detective mysteries around. It offers you the chance to step into the shoes of the great Sherlock Holmes and I can guarantee that anyone who does so will be in for a lot of fun.
In this story Holmes' long time 'rival', Inspector Lestrade, has a perplexing murder on his hands. Well, perplexing isn't exactly the right word, as Lestrade has the case all sewn up at the beginning of the game. He is convinced that Jack the Ripper is on the prowl once more. Of course, as Holmes, you know better, and it is up to you, with a little help from Dr. Watson, to solve the murder and maintain your impeccable reputation.
If you like adventure games, and murder mysteries in particular, then this one is a little gem. The action revolves around various locations on a map of Old London Town. At the outset only a couple of locations are accessible, but as Holmes does what he does best and conducts his searches and interrogations, he extracts clues that open up the next location, then the next, and so on.
This searching and interrogating is the basis for the game puzzles and the puzzles themselves were sufficient to keep me interested. Nosing around locations, finding any scrap of information that would help, then analysing evidence for clues, was all very engrossing. Despite not being overly difficult the game 'felt' good and, for a detective story, it provided a perfect balance between conversational clues and those that you, as Holmes, dig up for yourself.
And speaking of conversation, sometimes I am annoyed by reams of dialogue in games, but in this one I particularly enjoyed it. Unlike other games I could mention, I felt that the writers had put some effort into the 'written' aspect of Lost Files and it certainly paid off. The dialogue was believable and the descriptions of objects were entertaining and informative ensuring that the game had a feeling of 'quality' about it. Though, I must admit, considering it is set in 1888, I wasn't quite sure about the poster of Puccini gracing the opera house walls along side those of Mozart and Verdi.
Whilst not up to today's standards, the graphics in this game were still very good and, along with the music, they did an extremely good job at recreating the atmosphere of Victorian London. From the very beginning the game looked good and I particularly liked the idea of the music fading away after a set time in a scene, because even the most musical, or the most atmospheric, of soundtracks can get a little intrusive if it is taking some time to sort out a puzzle.
At 3 years old this is still an excellent game and doubly so now that it is out at a budget price. I was more than taken by it, even the second time around. I loved the red herrings, the interface was simple and straightforward, and Watson's journal which serves to keep track of conversations was very useful indeed with its keyword search facility. You just can't go wrong in checking out this one. Rumour has it that number two in the series is in the pipeline -- with any luck we may get to see it later this year.
Copyright © Rosemary Young 1995.
All rights reserved.
386 (486 recommended), 2MB RAM (4MB recommended), CD-ROM. (Floppy version also published)