Written by  :  Colin Rowsell (45)
Written on  :  May 27, 2002
Platform  :  DOS
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An interesting, lavish experiment that's a little too linear

The Good

Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels is an involved and highly atmospheric journey through Arthur Conan Doyle's Victorian London. True to most of the original stories the game places you in Watson's perspective as you must subtly guide Sherlock Holmes through various puzzles and traps. The accompanying materials, a newspaper and detailed map of London, are excellent, and a great deal of the gameplay is based on finding your way around the great city and mastering its geography. Infocom have clearly read up on their Conan Doyle; there are dozens of winks and nods for Holmes maniacs to pick up on. While not a canonical story, the plot is certainly reflective of the classic Baker Street elements - lost jewels, troubled royalty, political ramifications, sudden insight, and yes, even the seven percent solution are all in there.

The Bad

S:TROTCJ is the epitome of "interactive fiction", but in a slightly different sense than usual. The game is essentially a guided tour through a pre-existing story, rather than an environment in which you can make your own way. While this makes for great detail, characters, and atmosphere, it does feel limiting at times, as you are inevitably whisked along to the next set-piece of gameplay. S:TROTCJ makes for interesting comparisons with two other Infocom classics, HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Trinity, both of which have similarly well-planned storylines but manage to give the appearance of considerable freedom.

The Bottom Line

Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels is great fun for anyone who's ever enjoyed the Conan Doyle stories. It doesn't have the same kind of mindbending puzzles or oblique gameplay as some of the other Infocom titles, but for a relaxing wander down to 221B Baker St, it can't be beaten.