The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - Case of the Serrated Scalpel
First posted on 23 July 1998. Last updated on 26 October 2012.
|An adventure from The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes begins!|
|Moving the mouse over the carcass highlights the Look button.|
|Sherlock's home has a distinctly British taste.|
|Sherlock talks to the flower girl to gather more clues.|
Have you ever dreamed of solving a crime like the Master of Deduction Sherlock Holmes? Here is your opportunity to do so in an original murder mystery adventure developed by Mythos Software. Although the characters Sherlock Holmes and John H Watson are created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the story depicted in this game is not based on his work. Despite this, such creative adaptation of one of the world's most famous fictional detective should offer plenty of intriguing mysteries to fans who yearn for a trial of deductive reasoning. In the first game of the series, The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - Case of the Serrated Scalpel, you control the master detective in the investigation of a murder in the old Victorian London.
The story begins after the intro at Sherlock's apartment. He gets a letter from Scotland Yard. It seems that Inspector Lestrade has found a new victim to what he thinks to be another Jack the Ripper murder. He now wants Sherlock to please his ego by calling the master detective to the crime scene. As Sherlock, you arrive at the crime and discover that the victim is an actress at the Regency Theater named Sarah Carroway. After a brief investigation of the body, you find several clues to show this cannot be a Ripper murder. Inspector Lestrade, as arrogant as in Doyle's original stories, wants to close the case soon and is not really interested in your theory. So it is up to you to solve the mystery. During your investigation you learn that this is no usual murder but part of a conspiracy to keep a mother from her child who is raised by members of the highest social class of England.
The game is written for DOS. I have tried to play it under Windows 95 without much trouble. The game is originally released only in Floppy Disk version. It has a very easy installation tool which lets you choose between a small installation (15 MB, uncompressing at runtime) or a large installation (30 MB, uncompressed when installed and runs faster). All the old Victorian London backdrops, including 50 authentic locations, are drawn in full 256 color VGA graphics. There is some background music, but if you stay in one location too long this music often degenerates to a single tone. Sound effects are present in a lot of situations but not everywhere. Spoken text dialogs are present in the intro and some of the cut scenes. A CD-ROM version is also available.
The user interface is a simple point and click system. By moving the mouse over the screen, you are informed about objects with which you can interact through a message line display and a special action bar that is then highlighted. On objects to be examined this default operation is "Look" and on people it is "Talk". If you need another action to be performed, you can choose it from the menu. If you do not want to move the mouse away from the object, the action menu bar can be accessed by hotkeys. This interface should be familiar to gamers who have played other classic adventure games. Unlike other games with a point and click interface, this game has only 2 places in the story where you have to do a bit of pixel hunting, but you should already have a good idea of where to find the objects.
Engaging conversation with other characters is very easy. Click on a character in the game and you get some choices of what you can say. You may have to scroll between the choices if there are more choices than what can be displayed in one screen. If the sentence for a particular choice is too long, it is truncated after the first few key words which are all you need to know to direct the conversation. When you have to leave a location and travel to another, a map of the old London is presented, where you can click on a new location. You then see a small animation of a horse coach driving through the streets during the travel. At the outset of the game, only a few locations on the London map is accessible. More locations open up as the game progresses. Most of the puzzles involve search and interrogation of characters rather than inventory or logic type puzzles. A journal serves as a log to keep track of past conversations and has keyword search capability.
The story in The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - Case of the Serrated Scalpel is very nonlinear. You get a lot of clues. Some of the clues soon lead to dead-ends while others can be followed very far. There is not as extensive use of game flags as in its sequel (The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes: Case of the Rose Tattoo) which makes the puzzles easier to solve, although you still have to travel a lot through London just to complete a few actions at a location. For example, at a point you have to interview a suspect in jail, but the officer does not let you in unless you show him a pass card, which you must get from Scotland Yard. Traveling there, you then need to ask the officer on duty before you have to travel back to jail to complete the interrogation. Most of the puzzles are not too hard and are just right for beginners while still please the more experienced adventure gamers. All the puzzles can be solved based on clues gathered from the story and not by try and error methods. Although traveling between locations is solved in a very intelligent way, you often wish you can just jump directly between locations. For some expert adventure gamers, many of the puzzles are far too simple.
Overall, The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes - Case of the Serrated Scalpel is a solid adventure. The story is very good, even though it may not be a typical "Sherlock Holmes" mystery filled with his trademark style of deduction. On the other hand, you need not to be familiar with Doyle's original works in order to play and solve the game. In the end, this is a worthwhile murder mystery adventure with a delightful interface, good story, and nicely designed puzzles.