Unlock! Heroic Adventures: Sherlock Holmes: The Scarlet Thread of Murder

(Part II of III)

London, 1889
Mr Hall has been killed. The murder weapon: a statuette used to crack his skull. Your team of sleuths will assist Sherlock Holmes in his investigation. You start at the MORGUE, where the investigation’s first pieces of evidence and the body await you. Can you help him find his way through this investigation?

The Good

Logistics Puzzles (+5)

If you have played any investigatory games, logistics is a major part of the whodunit. They are not explicitly alibis, mainly because if you can reverse engineer their story in a way that would work out with them as the killer, what they thought was an alibi was actually a confession!

Artificial Location Changes (+5)

They have a machine in this game that takes inputs and provides a way for you to change locations. The immersion in this game reminds me a lot of some of the other app-driven investigation/deduction games out there right now. It’s luckily kind enough to not penalize you for thinking you could go somewhere that doesn’t exist. If you’ve played the Sherlock Holmes investigatory game before, this is similar to how the directory works.

Use of Crime Scenes, Details and Tools (+5)

With the help of well-done art and a little bit of visual pushing the game encourages you to think about evidence. For example, if you see something standing out, you wonder whether that should be something to look into further or not. Admittedly I did use maybe one hint on figuring out what combinations of tools existed but for the most part it was very intuitive and satisfying. Every detective needs a good eye!

Tasteful Use of Deduction (+5)

There are puzzles in here where you take information from other sources, put them together and draw conclusions. Very reminiscent of one of my favorite installments of the Exit games. It is illustrated well, in such a way where you cannot misconstrue or misinterpret something. If you know what to do, it’ll lead you the rest of the way and won’t try to trick you.

Interrogations (+5)

Just like a true detective, you get to interrogate suspects in this! It’s so cool! When perusing through crime scenes, you also need to listen — well, in this case read — very carefully about what the suspects say. There is truth in between the lines and it’s up to you to see it!

The Bad

Leaps of Faith (-0.5)

Some solutions and combinations in this game, like it seems most puzzle games trend these days, require you to just give it a shot. Sometimes it fails, for reasons and then sometimes it works for the exact same contextual reasons you tried for the moment you had failed before. Ack.

Introducing One-Time Use Mechanics (-0.5)

You may have wiggle room to poke around the information in front of you, but a specific puzzle in this game forces you to get to the point. How does it force you, you say? It penalizes you for going down rabbit holes. I’m used to trial-and-error in Unlock! so making mistakes in the machines is a new one to me.

Interchangeable Terminology (-2)

This is referring to another specific puzzle in this game, and I don’t know if they intended this to be a red herring or not, but it ended up costing me some time. Then, when I finally got on the same page with the game the solution sent me to Groan Town.

The Ugly

Story Stitching (-1)

As with every murder, there is a motive. In this game, the motive is thrown together haphazardly. Mind you I enjoy the story but I’m also an avid reader and the trope is just so tired.

Cheesy Hidden Objects (0)

As usual, this installment of Unlock! comes with your hidden objects, hidden numbers and the like. If you’re not able to extrapolate possibilities of lines that connect in the cards, you’ll miss a card. Luckily the app does have a little mercy on you if you don’t get it but why include it in the first place? I was able to identify this particular “cheesy” hidden object but when I showed it to a friend later, they couldn’t see it until I literally drew it out for them.

Arbitrary Use of Time (-0.5)

Like I had mentioned earlier, I’m used to being able to dilly dally and reverse engineer things. Some instances in this game allowed you to do this without penalty, while others were severely strict. I really wished that it was consistent in this game. I don’t mind time taken into consideration but I do mind it when I’m unsure when it does or doesn’t matter.

Difficulty: 3/5 for Expert
Satisfaction Grade: A (94%) for Amazing

note: a review copy was provided by the publisher.