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Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One is an upcoming video game in the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes game series developed by Frogwares. It is scheduled for release in on console and PC on November 16, 2021.[1]

Described as an "origin story", the game follows a young Holmes as returns to his family home on the Mediterranean island of Cordona after his mother's death. He soon discovers that a larger conspiracy is lurking on the island, and sets about uncovering the truth with the help of his childhood friend Jon.[2]

Plot[]

The plot will follow a 21-year-old Holmes at the beginning of his career. Following the death of his mother, Violet, the young detective returns to his childhood home on the Mediterranean island of Cordona. There, Holmes uncovers a sinister conspiracy lurking beneath the surface in the seemingly idyllic town. Corruption and crime are rampant, and the locals shun outsiders. Holmes will also reacquaint himself with his old friend, the enigmatic Jonathan (called "Jon"), who is described as "definitely not Watson".[2][3]

Setting[]

The game is set in 1880 on the fictional Mediterranean island of Cordona, which is under a British protectorate. The city's design shows a number of historical influences, including the Ancient Greeks, Ottomans, Venetians, and British. The main city is divided into five districts which Holmes can explore. The Old City is inhabited by Cordona's Turkish population; it contains locations like a medieval fortress, bazaar, Turkish baths, and a caravanserai. Scaladio is the island's administrative center, tightly controlled by the British. It contains city hall, the cathedral, museums, banks, and hotels. Grand Saray is an upscale district of wealthy villas inhabited by rich tourists seeking an exotic holiday. Silverton is a declining industrial district full of factories and warehouses; and finally, Miner's End is the island's poorest district, filled with decrepit buildings and shanties clustered around an abandoned silver mine.[4]

References to the Canon[]

The island of Cordona consists of numerous references to canonical or later works of Sherlock Holmes. Mainly, streets names through all five districts of the island borrow from canonical or presumed names from Sherlock Holmes literature. Personal possessions much associated with the detective, such as his cherrywood pipe and his magnifying glass are traced to have previously belonged to his father and mother, respectively. His parents' names, Siger and Violet, refer to Holmes' nom-de-guerre during his hiatus following "The Final Problem", Sigerson, and the popular assumption that his albeit passing interest to his client in "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" stems from her having the same name as his mother. It is revealed that this portrayal of Holmes has yet to learn to play the violin and is gifted his first instrument by an elderly virtuoso after Holmes recovers it from some troublesome sailors.

Gameplay[]

Gameplay centers on gathering clues, which can be linked together in Holmes' "mind palace" to create deductions. These deductions can be linked together to create conclusions, resolving cases. Unlike previous Adventures games, however, Chapter One will feature open-ended gameplay similar to Frogwares' non-Holmes game The Sinking City. Cordona serves as an "open world", although some districts will not be initially accessible and disguises will be required to access certain areas. The developers hope to give players more control over how the investigation develops, and which leads they would like to pursue. There will be different ways to discover various secrets and events, which can unexpectedly lead back to the central investigation.[2]

The game will also contain combat as an "integral" component. Holmes will be able to use his detective abilities to pinpoint enemies' weak points and quickly end fights. Alternatively, he can use observation to take out enemies without directly engaging with them.[1]

Reception[]

According to review aggregator Metacritic, the PC version of the game received generally favourable reviews, while the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S versions received mixed or average reviews. Reviewers praised it for its intriguing, engaging detective gameplay while criticizing its lack of polish, dull open world and inability to tackle social issues with grace.

Tristan Ogilvie of IGN called Sherlock Holmes Chapter One as a decent detective game set in an open-world that is elementary. GameSpot praised its detective gameplay while criticizing its elementary nature. GamesRadar+ praised it, writing about how it "does detective puzzling like no other series" while calling it flawed, but fascinating. Fraser Brown of PC Gamer lauded the game for its smart writing. Push Square awarded the game six stars out of ten, praising the Sherlock Holmes mechanics while criticizing the open world as dull and frame rate with other technical problems.

Frogwares announced that Chapter One became the fastest selling game in the series, though the developers did not give exact figures for deliveries or sales.[5]

Sherlock Holmes Chapter One would go on to win the Narrative category at the Central & Eastern European Game Awards (CEEGA).[6]

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