Frogwares may be moving on to Cthulhu and general Lovecraftian horror in The Sinking City but it will always be the studio that made Sherlock Holmes in video games cool again. The investigative series of titles has been fairly popular among players and will continue in Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter when it releases in May for PS4, Xbox One and PC. How has the journey been for the developer thus far and what’s next? GamingBolt spoke to Frogwares CEO and president Wael Amr to find out.
"Everyone has his own breaking point. Even Sherlock Holmes. We are playing with the deep feelings of the detective in Devil’s Daughter, his contradictions and of course his strengths."
When you developed the first Sherlock Holmes game, Mystery of the Mummy, in 2002 did you imagine that the series would become as popular as it has?
Wael Amr: Not really, but who can predict in the video game industry one studio can still be here in 2-3 years. However, we’re really happy and grateful it happened to us. It’s a lot of hard work to create games, and being rewarded over the years with a growth both in audience and quality of our titles is a great achievement.
Will Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter really be the final title in the series? If so, what prompted you to end things here?
Wael Amr: I’m not sure where this is coming from, we will make a pause maybe as we have to concentrate on one game at a time, but I do not see why Frogwares would stop making Sherlock Holmes games.
What can you tell us about the five cases that Holmes will have to solve?
Wael Amr: The cases are probably more intense emotionally than in Crimes and Punishments. That’s what I can tell you for now without spoilers.
How will the “irresistible emotions” aspect of the game play out, especially when Holmes is known for his logical thinking?
Wael Amr: Everyone has his own breaking point. Even Sherlock Holmes. We are playing with the deep feelings of the detective in Devil’s Daughter, his contradictions and of course his strengths.
"We intend to deliver different emotions that can be in line in your own way of being. Having different endings is a reflection of those different emotions."
How will player choices affect the eventual outcome of the game? Are there various endings that could be achieved in the process?
Wael Amr: Devil’s Daughter is a detective game similar to Crimes and Punishments in terms of gameplay. We have different cases, and there are different outcome for all of them.
Your decisions matter, not only game wise. Many reviews of Crimes and Punishments, a game we worked very hard at Frogwares to do the way it was, underline the fact you stop thinking about the game but start instead to think about yourself, your choices and what leads you to make them. Hours or days after you played.
Overall that is what we are looking for in term of narrative and gameplay. We intend to deliver different emotions that can be in line in your own way of being. Having different endings is a reflection of those different emotions. Said otherwise, endings are not finality, they are a part of your own logic.
Tell us about the “expansive landscape” the game will have. What can players discover if they wander around enough?
Wael Amr: Marketing words…The levels are significantly bigger than in Crimes and Punishments and compared to investigation games overall. We also have dynamic game mechanics for which large landscape are playing a major role in the game.
What major problems from the previous game are you looking to avoid with The Devil’s Daughter? What new mechanics can aspiring detectives look forward to?
Wael Amr: The main issue we had with Crimes and Punishments was the loading before a lot of actions: dialogs, cut scenes, puzzles and between locations. We have changed that to have more direct control from the player. In return, Devil’s Daughter is more fluid and plays without interruption, it’s a very interesting turn and as the focus test shows, we are very happy about the results.
"Hopefully, everyone realize Sherlock Holmes Devil’s Daughter is not a competitive FPS that requires such render performances at the expense of scenery details."
The Devil’s Daughter will be the first game in the series to focus on current gen platforms. Did you encounter any issues when developing for the PS4 and Xbox One especially compared to PC?
Wael Amr: We didn’t encounter a lot of problems on Crimes and Punishments on Xbox One or PS 4. PS3 was more tedious. But it was for almost everyone.
When exactly can we expect the game to release in Spring?
Wael Amr: I guess the publisher will announce that in due time, that is to for them to say.
Is the game going to run at 1080p and 60fps on both PS4 and Xbox One?
Wael Amr: Hum, no, and hopefully, everyone realize Sherlock Holmes Devil’s Daughter is not a competitive FPS that requires such render performances at the expense of scenery details.
What kind of engine upgrades have you made compared to the last entry in the series?
Wael Amr: Mostly the Character controller, the Physically Based Rendering and dynamic feature. Also some deep architectural changes as the size of the game is very big now.
"The Lovecraft universe has been around me since 1986. We feel that after Sherlock Holmes that could be the right move in term of gameplay and innovation."
Are there any plans to release a DX12 version of the game in the future?
Wael Amr: Not at the moment, we are not sure it will impact significantly the game rendering.
Are you using the 7th core CPU on PS4 and Xbox One to improve performance?
Wael Amr: Yes, for physics simulation mostly.
What kind of graphical improvements can players expect in the game?
Wael Amr: Mostly Physical Based Rendering, it’s another way of rendering scene, it brings more immersion than the previous system we used. It’s very well felt when playing and moving around. We use to say that before PBR we were playing the game and now with PBR we “are” in the game.
What’s next after The Devil’s Daughter? We heard you have a Call of Cthulhu game in development. Care to share more details about the same?
Wael Amr: We will do proper announcement about our new project. When I say new, it’s not really true; The Lovecraft universe has been around me since 1986. We feel that after Sherlock Holmes that could be the right move in term of gameplay and innovation.
Wael Amr, CEO, Frogwares Game Development Studio