Sherlock Holmes The Awakened review

by on April 11, 2023
Release Date

April 11, 2023


There aren’t many video game series that appeal to me quite like Frogwares’ Sherlock Holmes games. Combining detective gameplay and outlandish stories, these adventure games aren’t afraid to put one of the most recognisable characters in literary history into some weird and wonderful scenarios. After the launch of Sherlock Holmes Chapter One in 2021 though, the Ukrainian studio had their entire world turned upside down when Russia invaded their homeland. The team have been incredibly open about how this affected game development on social media, and in this unimaginably difficult situation managed to use the remote working skills they learned during the COVID 19 pandemic to develop and now release Sherlock Holmes The Awakened.

Although this game is technically a remake of a 2006 title, it has been completely overhauled in pretty much every way. The story takes place almost directly after Sherlock Holmes Chapter One, and features sexy young Sherlock and his new friend Watson dealing with one of their earliest cases. I was really happy to see the return of the younger Sherlock character in this game, and his brash personality and obsessive nature is just as compelling as ever.

A screenshot of Sherlock Holmes The Awakened

This isn’t just your average search for a murderer though, because the main hook of Sherlock Holmes The Awakened is that it blends the world’s greatest detective with a little Lovecraftian horror. This is a much darker tale than your typical Conan Doyle affair, with sinister cults, kidnapped immigrants, and tentacles around every corner. The sinister backdrop is perfect for an investigative adventure game like this, and never intrudes on the thoughtful gameplay.

Returning from Chapter One is how investigating crime scenes works. You’ll happen upon locations where something shady has taken place, and need to use your detective skills to locate all sorts of evidence. This is done by finding smaller areas of interest and looking for anything out of the ordinary. A big ole pile of blood or recently used dagger might be obvious enough to spot, but markings on the floor where furniture has been moved are a little less obvious and you might need to use your focus and channel Holmes’ superior skills of observation to spot it.

Once you’ve found everything you need to put the pieces together at a crime scene, it’s time to go into the mind palace menu and solve some mysteries. This screen full of nodes will pose a big question relating to the case, and it’s up to you to select the pieces of evidence that help answer the question. If you’ve been paying attention there’s a good chance you’ll realise which combination of telegrams, testimonies, and objects will help you progress, but if not you can just keep selecting options until eventually something locks in place.

A screenshot of Sherlock Holmes The Awakened

The moments that really make you feel like a genius detective in Sherlock Holmes The Awakened, though, are the ones where you’re let loose in a big city and are able to follow leads to the next big revelation. To do this you’ll need to check out your evidence folder for anything that needs further investigation, which you can spot because they’re marked by different symbols. There’s one symbol that means you need to ask various NPCs in the world if they know anything, one that signifies you need to do some research in your archives to find out more about a subject (for example identifying a plant to see if it would be safe to consume), and even symbols that just expect you to go exploring. It takes some getting used to checking and pinning your evidence (and isn’t all that well explained initially) but once you do the game really shines.

The Sherlock Holmes games have never really been particularly willing to hold your hand and help push you forward in the story, and The Awakened is no exception. Don’t expect hint systems or objective markers to guide you in this game: you’ve got to solve these cases by yourself. It’s rather refreshing to play a game where you aren’t constantly told exactly what to do to progress, but the counterpoint to this is that you will get stuck often. Most of the time it’ll be something really tiny you’ve missed like a single hard to spot piece of evidence, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t frustrate me more than a few times.

A screenshot of Sherlock Holmes The Awakened

It’s worth saying that compared to the last entry in the series though, Sherlock Holmes The Awakened is a more focused and slightly simpler game. The huge open world of Chapter One was very ambitious and interesting, but splitting the game into multiple smaller (yet still sizable) areas this time around does make the game more transparent.

Despite being relatively simpler, Sherlock Holmes The Awakened certainly doesn’t scrimp on the variety. There are sections of the game that require you to solve wild environmental puzzles in another (slightly sinister) world, sections that unexpectedly thrust a gun in your hand, and even a lengthy boat section that requires some master navigation to proceed. There’s truly never a dull moment for Holmes and Watson.

Even in the more typical case solving moments there’s a lot of variety. After finding enough evidence you’re often required to recreate a series of events by moving through the environment and deducing what happened and where. Other moments will see you needing to confront people, which involves presenting evidence to prove their connection to the case. The variety is rather impressive, and helps set the game apart from the old fashioned point and click style adventure games.

Sherlock Holmes The Awakened review

Sherlock Holmes The Awakened has a lot to offer, but it’s far from perfect. The lack of any hints whatsoever does mean that the pacing of the game suffers, and the one helpful ability you do have to rectify this (which highlights points of interaction nearby) doesn’t really work well enough to do so.

The overarching narrative is also a little disappointing compared to previous entries in the series. I adore the Lovecraftian horror theme and what it brought to the game, but there are far too many moments where it felt like the story just jumped forward too quickly and even at the end of the game there were key characters I barely recognised or had forgotten. Especially when compared to the fantastic (and much more goofy) story of the previous game, The Awakened just can’t quite hang.

Sherlock Holmes The Awakened has a lot to offer for fans of murders and mysteries, but don’t expect to have your hand held as you solve them. The horror theme is a great fit for the franchise, and the sheer variety of gameplay is really impressive. If you can get past the slightly underwhelming narrative and don’t mind getting stuck a few times, you’ll find another engaging case to solve with Holmes and Watson.


Engaging investigative gameplay
A whole lot of variety
The horror theme is great
The younger characters are fantastic


You'll get stuck a lot
The story feels a bit rushed
The highlight ability doesn't work well

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Sherlock Holmes The Awakened combines horror and Holmes to create a wonderful adventure game, but don't expect it to hold your hand.