Take a look at the Penumbra tech demo from indie developers, Frictional Games. It’s taken many of the important principles of the old-fashioned adventure, and applied them to a 3D, first-person world, with all the lighting fancies and finely balanced physics you could hope for. In other news, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened has taken an old-fashioned adventure, and crammed it into a 3D, first-person world, with, er, some lights, and otherworldly physics, for seemingly no reason. Funny thing, perspective.
Holmes and Watson, played alternately, are investigating the mysterious disappearance of immigrant workers in 19th century London. But the narrative is so disjointed that it’s necessary for Holmes to give Watson an awful comprehension test at the end of a chapter.
The Awakened is put together all wrong. Puzzles aren’t introduced, but plopped in front of you with all the grace of an underpaid maid. Items are often concealed behind a single brick in a vast wall. And the occasional wonky physics puzzles feel out of place in the cerebral world of the great detective.
One of the most familiar adventure traits is the pixel hunt. But now, instead of scraping the cursor around the screen, searching for a microscopic detail essential for progress, you’ve got a complete 3D town to laboriously wave your first-person view all over, hoping to stumble on whichever obscure object will be necessary in three scenes’ time.
The puzzles, despite their rude appearance, are fine. However, thanks to the higgledy-piggledy structure, you’ll be Googling walkthroughs before the first hour is through. That’s if you survive the voice acting that long.
So, points for making an effort with the 3D; it’s occasionally quite pretty. But then take them all away again for not thinking in 3D. Or in order. And then a kick in the face for the voice “acting.”