Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles
Year Published: 2010
Publisher: Frogwares
Developer: Waterlily Games

"Sherlock Holmes and the Bastardized Storyline" may have been a more appropriate title for this hidden object game that borrows very loosely from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1902 novel. Considering how many HOG's have you playing as a detective or someone forced into the role of one, Sherlock Holmes seems a natural fit for the genre. That's the problem here - there are already so many games that outclass this one, and it's not even appealing for Sherlock Holmes fans because of how far it deviates from its source material.

Magic paintings as soon as we arrive. This is either Baskerville Manor or Super Mario 64.

Much like in the book, Sir Henry Baskerville seeks the aid of Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr. Watson to investigate a curse that has befallen his family for several hundred years. Various Baskervilles have been killed by a giant spectral hound, and Henry fears he is next. The trio arrives at Baskerville Manor and conducts a thorough search of every room, many of which belonged to specific family members who fell victim to the hound. Henry provides stoic details of the manor's past residents, Holmes tries to make sense of it all, and Watson...complains about being afraid of spiders, a phobia I'm not even sure is canon to Doyle's character.

Before too long it becomes apparent that, unlike in the original story, something supernatural really is happening in Baskerville. There are creepy paintings of the family members that revert to a more normal appearance when quests are completed. There is a magical medallion that grants Holmes powers like super strength and night vision as its pieces are reassembled. There is even time travel, which, like so many other HOG's that use this gimmick, happens only in certain rooms. As more and more evidence of the paranormal surfaces, Holmes continues to hang onto his notions that it can all be explained with "logic". Eventually the script has all but forgotten him.

No simple dog, indeed.

I'm not entirely against the idea of a Sherlock Holmes story in which he really does encounter ghosts or demons (even if that does run counter to the original's themes that everything has an earthly explanation, deception can only fool people for so long, and belief in superstition can be dangerous.) The problem with this version of Hound of the Baskervilles is that it writes itself into a corner. Sir Henry talks at length about each family member and what their possible connections to the hound and motives could be. But when we get to the end we realize, hey, they're all dead so none of them can possibly be the culprit, and there are no other characters. So, of course the curse is real and you've been on a quest to find a way to destroy the dog - which seems to happen as a result of using a ritual to summon it? It doesn't make much sense.

Gotta admit those butterflies are pretty.

Those who have played Frogwares's 2011 title, Dracula: Love Kills (released a year later) will undoubtedly notice the similarities between these two titles. Dracula is, essentially, Sherlock Holmes repackaged with a new public domain property. Both games have a similar method of collecting multiple parts to one puzzle and an "Area Complete" message that appears when you're done with a screen. Dracula's special powers were (mostly) directly taken from Holmes & Co.'s magical medallion. Both games have three characters who hold conversations on every screen. Both stray quite a distance from their source novel, although Dracula was more of an original sequel of sorts. Dracula was also a huge improvement with a bonus chapter and dialogue choices that could lead to an alternate ending. If it sounds like my review is turning into a review of Dracula, it's because if I had to recommend you play only one or the other, it would not be Sherlock Holmes.

Those who love HOG's may find the game a passable 3-hour romp, as it has received many positive reviews. But I can't personally throw this hound a bone when so many better choices are out there and for Sherlock fans, you're better off with the books and movies.

SCORE: 2.5/5