More than five years later, Frogwares’ Sherlock Holmes returns with a brand new adventure. Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One is a prequel but contains many of the same fundamentals as its predecessors. It’s out on November 16th for Xbox Series X/S, PS5 and PC with the Xbox One and PS4 versions coming later so let’s take a look at 15 things you need to know before jumping in.
This isn’t the Holmes from Crimes and Punishments or The Devil’s Daughter. Instead, Chapter One focuses on a younger, more arrogant Sherlock before his rise as a great detective. After his mother Violet passed away in untimely fashion, he sets about trying to solve her murder (along with taking on any other cases to make a name for himself). Holmes is also joined by Jonathan aka Jon, an old friend who isn’t John Watson, though who he really is remains to be seen.
The setting this time around is Cordona, a fictional island in the Mediterranean where Holmes grew up. There are several districts to explore and everything seems fairly peaceful with gorgeous sun-drenched streets lined with greenery and scenic ocean views. However, along with a clear social hierarchy, there’s a conspiracy lurking underneath which takes players to the island’s seedier locations. Why are the locals so hostile towards outsiders? How deep does the corruption flow through the island? These are but a few things that Holmes has to figure out.
Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One is an open world title, which means you have the freedom to explore without being railroaded into the core story (after completing the first main quest that is). In terms of content, there are five main cases to solve along with 30 different side cases. While the main cases are part of a single overarching story, the side cases can range from exploring Sherlock’s past (and that of Jon’s) to unearthing secrets about the island’s denizens. Some side cases may even be as long as the main cases, providing their own moral choices along the way.
Much like previous games, investigations form a core part of the gameplay loop. Explore various locales and talk to different people but don’t expect everyone to be super forthcoming. Look into rumors, gather evidence, narrow down a list of suspects and then accuse who you think may be the culprit depending on the clues gathered. Of course, every case has multiple sides to it so you may be motivated to pardon a guilty culprit if you think they’re justified.
A returning feature from previous games is the presence of different outcomes for each case. Depending on your decisions, both main and side cases can offer different results. One can also look forward to multiple endings so you can bet that your decisions will have an impact on the overall outcome. And yes, it’s still possible to continue the story even after failing a case.
Disguises are an underrated part of Holmes’ repertoire and they’ll be making a return here. Sherlock can don a variety of outfits, along with accessories like hats and glasses, to change his appearance. You can also adjust facial hair, apply wrinkles and bruises and so on. Disguises help in gaining access to different areas (dressing as a police officer to gain access to the prison, for example) and allow for mingling with different social groups (which could yield valuable information). Though they may be essential in some cases, it’s also possible to acquire different outfits just to change Holmes’ look and make him look more dapper.
Combat has seen some significant enhancements this time around with Holmes relying on firearms, dodge-rolling and cover to best his foes. However, he can’t soak up a lot of damage so getting creative will be key. Exploiting the environment, like shattering vases to disorient nearby foes, will be key and players can use a concentration mode to better locate such objects in the heat of battle (along with slowing down time to better target enemy weak spots).
“Bloodthirsty” isn’t exactly a trait that Sherlock is known for. You may have to fight for your life in some cases but massacring everyone isn’t always encouraged. Thankfully, it’s possible to take down foes in non-lethal fashion as well. You can also skip combat altogether if focusing on the story and investigations is more important.
Relationship With Jon
While Jon may come across as a placeholder for Watson (who sadly can’t teleport), he is more than just an assistant. Depending on how lethal you are in combat or what choices are made throughout the journey, Holmes’ relationship with Jon will change accordingly. It’s not yet confirmed whether you’ll be chided for murdering enemies or not but it should be interesting to see Jon’s reactions.
As players investigate the island, they’ll be able to decorate Holmes’ mansion with furniture and other wares. Some are provided as rewards but you can also visit any nearby vendors and purchase from them as well. In some screenshots, the mansion has its fair share of overgrowth so perhaps one can put in the time to spruce it up.
While Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One isn’t the biggest game out there, players will still have plenty to experience. In a Q&A video released earlier this year, the developer confirmed that the main story will take between 12 to 15 hours to complete (which likely refers to the main cases alone). However, if you want to see everything, then it will take 40 to 50 hours in total. Along with the main cases, “everything” should include the side cases along with all of the potential different outcomes and endings.
Along with the base game, the Saints and Sinners DLC will be available at launch while three additional DLC packs – Mycroft’s Pride, M for Mystery and Beyond A Joke – will be releasing later. Not much is known about these aside from containing additional quests for players to undertake.
4K/60 FPS on Xbox Series X and PS5
Though the jury’s still out on Xbox One and PS4 performance, it seems that current-gen versions of the game will run at 4K/ 60 FPS. This is according to its Microsoft Store listing which lists 4K Ultra HD and 60 FPS+ support (which should apply to PS5 as well) along with being “Optimized for Xbox Series X/S”. It’s possible that we see different performance modes, perhaps even a 120 FPS mode but Frogwares has yet to confirm the same.
The PS5’s DualSense controller will play a role in investigations thanks to haptic feedback. Successfully linking together different clues and actions provides different vibrations, and discerning the correct ones is key. You may also find the controller vibrating in the direction that you should be looking at times and providing feedback in combat, whether you’re taking damage or knocking out a foe. Trigger resistance also comes into play when gunning down an enemy.
Previous entries weren’t heavy on PC and that’s more or less the same case here. In terms of installation space, you’ll need 28 GB available. Minimum requirements include an Intel Core i5-6600 or AMD Ryzen 5 2600, 6 GB of RAM and an Nvidia GTX 960 4 GB. The recommended requirements include an Intel Core i5-8400 or AMD Ryzen 5 3600, 8 GB of RAM and either a GeForce GTX 1070 with 8 GB or an AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT.