A young Sherlock Holmes returns to where his mother died, where mysteries abound to be solved. Check out our Sherlock Holmes Chapter One review!
Before he was the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes was a brilliant rebel itching to prove himself. When an old wound compels him back to the Mediterranean shore where his mother died, it seems like the perfect opportunity to do just that—but beneath the vibrant urban veneer of the island, the rhythm of island life strikes a more ominous beat. Crime and corruption, a twisted sense of justice and morality… These are just a few stumbling blocks in Sherlock’s quest for truth.
As Sherlock, your legacy is written by the decisions you make in this open-world detective adventure. Deception, violence, and deduction are just a few resources in your arsenal—your mysterious companion and sounding board, Jon, is another.
Whether you choose brute force to solve problems or stay one step ahead of your enemies by using your wits to spot vulnerabilities, you decide what each situation demands as you hone your investigative skills. It’s time to confront your past so you can become the legend you’re destined to be.
Sherlock Holmes Chapter One is the newest release from Frogwares Studio. They have done quite a few Sherlock Holmes games over the years, which I know people love. Earlier this year, I got a chance to play the PlayStation 5 version of The Sinking City, which took a lot of what they did with the Sherlock Holmes formula, but in a Lovecraftian world. I liked it quite a bit, so I was definitely ready to dive into Sherlock Holmes Chapter One.
Right now, Sherlock Holmes Chapter One is only available on PlayStation 5, with a PlayStation 4 port on the horizon. The game is set very early in Sherlock Holmes’s career. To compare it to similar takes in other mediums, you could perhaps think of Batman Year One, which gives us a look into his early moments as the caped crusader. We’ve seen Sherlock Holmes over the years in many mediums and forms, but I have never seen a version that explores how he became the character we all know and love.
This particular adventure is set on the small Mediterranean island of Cordona, where Holmes spent time as a child with his mother. He’s there because he thinks it can help him heal emotionally from her passing, even though it’s been years. He is quickly sucked into a much bigger adventure than he ever thought he would be getting himself into.
Holmes is accompanied by his friend Jon, and I was actually really confused at first with how he was talking and appearing in different locations during my adventure before I caught onto his nature. When talking to Jon, he’ll act as a sounding board for Holmes, but from Holmes’s vantage point. It’s a really interesting dynamic which I enjoyed watching play out.
You are quickly introduced to the core mechanics that you will be using throughout the game. To avoid spoilers, I really don’t want to discuss much of the game’s story or future mysteries. When you arrive in Cordona, you initially stay in a hotel, which makes sense since you were supposed to be there for a short visit. There is a robbery that leads to a death, and Holmes takes it upon himself to help solve the crime. This is where Sherlock Holmes Chapter One teaches you how to play.
You will need to talk to the witnesses, search crime scenes, and find clues. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to look at the evidence and start pairing pieces of information together. Once you start to get an understanding of the crimes, you’ll go into your Mind Palace and start working on solving the mystery. If you find anything new, you can actually go back to your witness and ask about the new information, which you can once again utilize to solve the mystery. You’ll be able to tag certain pieces of evidence make that the focus when talking to people as well.
In your Mind Palace, the clues will start filling out, and you’ll have some assumptions which you can change, allowing you to reflow your thoughts. You’ll often have more than one suspect, and this can allow you to see the most likely scenario was. Once you have found how to solve the puzzle, you can choose how to approach the suspect about it. They might be able to be talked down, but after being caught, they may try to fight you. It’s a really interesting dynamic. I tried to reduce combat whenever I could – more on that kin a bit – so talking people down was always my preferred method.
Along the way, you’ll have some other tools available to you as well. You’ll be able to visit City Hall, the Police Station and the Newspaper, looking for historical info and clues. It’s helpful but also a pain. When searching, you’ll have four categories that you are looking for, each with a subcategory. When searching, you’ll need to highlight a subcategory from the categories, then see if you have results. When you know what you’re looking for, it makes sense. When you feel stuck… you will feel stuck. I would have liked to see a better hint system for these situations.
You’re a master of disguise as well, with a bunch of wardrobe pieces that you will discover. You’ll be able to change your wardrobe, hair, and makeup to make yourself look like other people. This helps quite a bit as you’ll try to look like other people for information, or different clothes might make people talk to you a bit easier. Not everyone on Cordona loves wealthy people.
You’ll find the mansion you grew up in and actually remember things from the past that you had forgotten. Since it has been abandoned for years, a lot of the furnishings have been sold off, but finding them will trigger memories in Holmes, actually opening up doors to him which were previously closed off. I really enjoyed restoring the mansion.
There is some gun combat, but it’s not the highlight of this experience. You don’t want to kill anyone – if possible – with your gun, so you’ll be aiming for pieces of armor around their bodies, shooting them off. You can shoot things on them that cause them to be distracted or things around them that will allow you to get the upper hand. Once distracted, you’ll play a QTE game by sneaking up from behind them, then hopefully handcuffing them if you did the QTE right.
Sherlock Holmes Chapter One is a beautiful game, and it takes advantage of the extra power of the PlayStation 5. Cordona is a bustling city with people all over it, although they all say the same things a lot of the time, but at least it looks good and feels vibrant. Loading times are quick as well, thanks to the hardware. When I fast traveled, it would always just take a few seconds before I was on my way again.
Sherlock Holmes Chapter One is a really good detective game, I’ve played a bunch through the year, and this is the best one yet. It looks at what being a detective feels like at its core and figures out the best way to gamify it. A few things hold it back, but not much. I felt the combat was clumsy, but luckily you can decide to avoid it most of the time to focus on the story and the mystery at hand. Sherlock Holmes Chapter One is one you should play on Sony’s console since I’m sure you’ll have a good time.
This Sherlock Holmes Chapter One review is based on a PlayStation 5 copy provided by Frogwares.