A preview by slydos, 03rd August 2002
"Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of the Mummy" is the follow-up game to "Jules Verne - the Secret of the Nautilus". It is produced by the Ukrainian development studio Frogwares, and it seems not yet clear after Cryo's fall, which other company will publish the game. Anyhow, Frogwares will present "Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of the Mummy" on the ECTS in London at the end of August. A 10,8 MB demo file can be downloaded on their homepage. Exactly the same as with Nautilus an adventure game in 1st-person-perspective and the similarities in handling are very large too. The same technology (Phonenix VR) is used, which was already basis for other French 1st-person-games, e.g. Dracula 1+2, Loch Ness, Amerzone and others. The graphics of the 3D-locations is qualitatively comparable with the already named games.
Elizabeth Montcalfe, daughter of a famous egyptologist and collector, wrote a letter to her cousin Sherlock Holmes and asks for help, since her father disappeared 6 months ago and committed suicide according to the police. The gamer slips into the role of Sherlock and begins with the investigations in Montcalfe Manor, a house, which reminds more of a museum with its innumerable artifacts.
In the playable demo we can play a small part of "Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of the Mummy", which does not go beyond the hall of the manor, however up to the option menu offers already access to all important functions. In this pure point&click adventure we find two icons at the lower left corner of the screen, exactly as in "Nautilus": the inventory in form of a bag and the main menu in form of a book, which can be opened with leftclick. Exactly the same as in "Nautilus" this constant insertion is very disturbing, particularly, when it does not differ from the background colour.
If you have collected an object, it is stowed away automatically in the bag. The inventory is substantially clearer than in its predecessor, now screen-filling, but handling of the objects is still not ideal. One first get a description of a just collected object, if one opens the inventory and select the object with left-click. In this case a description is faded in as text line. In order to get rid of that object again, you must click on its small box in the inventory, otherwise you'll have it always hanging at your hand! I would prefer, to get already a description directly when taking up an object or when moving the mouse over it. In addition it would have been nice, if a selected object could be put back into inventory with a right-click.
While we could turn ad hoc 360 degrees, can svivel upward and down, a hand cursor points us the way to new scenes and also lets us manipulate items. The animated cursor shows likewise, if one can take or use something. Intuitively and easy to learn. In addition we hear Sherlock's comments and can also read them in the text window bottom left. Since the option menu was not accessible in the demo, I assume simply one can also switch the texts off. I also hope in this connection that the unprofessionel dubbing is still to be changed, because one will hardly believe a Sherlock Holmes from the young non-Englishman, that speaks there!
The main menu, which hides behind a book, is very clear. Under "Documents" we can read and page through letters etc.. The menu option "Notes" is interesting. Here Sherlock's comments are noted down during a scene automatically, even with date. It serves as a great overview about your actions until this point of time. Unfortunately the text is extraordinary difficult to read - who really writes in bright sand colors on an only slightly darker surface (see screenshot)
The other functions of the main menu are save, load, quit and return to game. There are unfortunately only 6 save slots, containing a picture with date. Actually it should be possible today in every game, to save a substantially larger number, preferably unlimited savegames.
The demo naturally only forshadows the puzzles. There are of course object/inventory puzzles, e.g. find a key and open a door with it. But in the demo there was already (very easy) a code puzzle, 4 suitable numbers had to be found, in order to open a secret compartment.
The game, according to the manufacturer, is to contain 5 levels in over 35 very differently designed areas. There are more than 7 (?) - which means - perhaps 8? - animated characters and many animations. One can collect or use more than 100 objects and 30 puzzles with different degree of difficulty must be solved. The designers indicate an average game length of 20 hours. The handling of "Sherlock Holmes" is not yet completely round and problem-free, however one can already find some improvements in opposite to "Nautilus". So we can hope that likewise improvements will be found with the puzzles and the plot too. It will show, if it will get an exciting adventure game, transporting a bit of the aura of the great sleuth. Anyhow it's a season for Egypt lovers, because the direct competitor of "Sherlock Holmes" will be released at the same time: the successor of "Loch Ness" ("The Cameron Files - Pharao's Curse ") in which detective Cameron will care about a vanished mummy and archaeologist in Egypt.
(played on Windows XP)
adventurearchiv - 03-08-02