I should begin with the full disclosure that I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan and when any new title arrives licensed from the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Estate, I get a little giddy. The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes promises a fresh set of adventures around London wrapped in some casual puzzle games.
The tone of the game is set very well from the beginning with some nice Victorian chamber string music and art style. And the musical nod to the BBC Sherlock Holmes series theme is a nice touch not lost on these ears. The game runs at either full screen or in windowed mode and on a large monitor, the full screen graphics can look a bit muddled. Despite this, the scene composition varies appropriately from one location to the next and there is some beautiful detail in each of the investigated rooms.
The game's soundtrack does not vary much, but the themes are pleasant enough that they don't feel repetitive and I found myself humming along during the game and even hours after I'd stopped playing. The voiceover sounds a bit compressed and inconsistent in terms of recording quality. And there are many places where the overall audio mix buries dialogue in music but subtitles took a bit of the sting out of that. My final note on the audio is one that I will likely keep preaching as long as dialogue is being recorded: If you're going to record characters who are supposed to be from England, either record a native of the United Kingdom or get someone who can do a rock solid accent.
The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes contains 16 cases and each case is comprised of a series of puzzles. Sadly, the majority of these puzzles are the same from one case to the next. First, you must look at two photos of the crime scene and find things that are different between the two photos. This might seem like a piece of cake, but the scenes are designed such that it's never a trivial task. You are aided by a magnifying glass which allows you to find details in the darker and busier areas of a photo. And if you get stuck, you can collect and use Holmes' pipes to reveal a clue with a puff of smoke.
The next game type is simply to find a laundry list of items in a given scene. It doesn't feel very different from the first type of puzzle as you're using your magnifying glass again to comb a photo for clues. As you make your way through the first two puzzle types, a list of suspects is built from the evidence that you find. And in each of these pieces of evidence is the potential to find a locked or scrambled clue which branches the play off into a new minigame. These minigames offered the most variety overall.
Finally after assembling your case with evidence and motives, you travel back to 221B Baker Street where you play a game of photo sudoku, arranging photos of suspects into specific columns of character detail (i.e. wearing glasses or wearing a tie). Once the sudoku round is complete, a game of memory ensues where each suspect is paired with a piece of evidence. The screen is blanked momentarily and one at a time, the pieces of evidence are altered and characters are eliminated from the suspect list until the culprit is discovered.
Overall my greatest want from The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes is variety. After playing through 16 cases, the combing of scenes with a magnifying glass got to be fairly repetitive. That said, they were enjoyable enough to finish the game in a few play sessions. The hardcore puzzler might find The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes a bit elementary...yes, I went there. But a casual gamer and certainly a younger sleuth will have a lot of fun with this game.
Final Note: There is a suspect in this game named Hecubus who is the manservant to another character. If you're a Kids in the Hall fan, you know what's going on here. If you're not, Google it. Extra points awarded to the devs for this gem.