Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Review

Richard Walker

“There is nothing in this world that cannot be explained with logic and reason”. This is one of Sherlock Holmes's guiding mantras - a tenet that the iconic sleuth lives by. What happens, then, when the detective is faced with Lovecraftian cosmic horror, eldritch monsters, and other occult weirdness? All logic goes out of the window, and what follows is a compellingly dark and strange Sherlock mystery. While there's plenty of crime scene investigation still to be done, Sherlock Holmes The Awakened is anything but business as usual for the Arthur Conan Doyle character who never actually said 'elementary' or donned a deerstalker (according to Conan Doyle’s descriptions) in any of the books. True story.

A remake of 2007's PC-only Sherlock release, The Awakened has been retconned to serve as a follow-up to 2021's Chapter One, so expect plenty of references to your time in Cordona with old imaginary pal, Jon. Fundamentally, the events of the original remain much the same, although the gameplay has been brought in line with developer Frogwares' more recent Sherlock forays. Eschewing Chapter One's compact open world, The Awakened is split into eight chapters, each with its own set of cases to unravel, all tying into the game's singular mystery.

While The Awakened is a far more linear affair, in keeping with previous outings, such as  Crimes & Punishments and The Devil's Daughter, there's no less intrigue and gratifying sleuth work to indulge in, this time with the ever-reliable Doctor John Watson at your side. Watson plays a fairly vital role in The Awakened, stepping in as a playable character whenever Sherlock is in peril, and there are numerous times you'll require the aid of the dapper doctor. Holmes, as it happens, is quite susceptible to the madness induced by the Cthulhu-worshipping cult at the heart of The Awakened, as evidenced by the black rings around his eyes, his unkempt stubble, and tousled hair.

Opening in a typically soggy and grey London (it's not always like that here), things begin inauspiciously, as Holmes discovers his newspaper has been soiled. A sojourn to the local bookshop and subsequent visit to a nearby manor – where we discover a Maori servant has gone missing - lights the touchpaper on what at first seems like a reasonably conventional case. It's not long before stranger things begin to occur, however, and it turns out there's a far deeper conspiracy at work, taking Holmes and Watson into increasingly inky and macabre territory.

Mechanically, Sherlock Holmes The Awakened is much like its forebears, though more in keeping with Holmes' pre-Chapter One adventures, free of combat and focused purely on the art of investigation. Searching for clues, following trails, and reconstructing crime scenes to determine exactly what transpired. There are things that The Awakened does slightly more elegantly than Chapter One, like the reconstruction bits, in which you cycle through possible eventualities in an effort to unravel the truth. It's largely trial and error stuff, but it's been streamlined to make it less so than in previous Sherlock titles.

Of course, Frogwares is incredibly well versed in what makes Holmes tick, having developed games featuring the literary detective for more than twenty years. The circumstances surrounding the making of this one are rather different, though, with the studio pivoting away from an intended full open-world sequel to Chapter One, in favour of an initially unplanned remake, in the middle of Russia's ongoing invasion of its homeland. That the developer has managed to pull this together in the midst of a war is nothing short of miraculous.

It's by no means perfect, and there are a handful of minor bugs to contend with, but there's nothing really notable to highlight. If we're nitpicking, the moments that Sherlock is whisked away to a nightmarish nether realm leach away some of the story's momentum, and you'll likely be desperate to return to the real world, back to the task at hand. Mercifully, these diversions to a surreal, craggy environment are few and far between, and over quite quickly – they also happen to be part of the game's hat tip to Lovecraft, as Holmes gradually loses grip on his sanity.

Sherlock Holmes The Awakened is another robust dose of enjoyable puzzling and compelling adventure, made in the same mould as Frogwares' other dalliances with the dashing detective – ever-so-slightly wonky, a little rough around the edges, but enormously entertaining and absorbing. If, like me, you have a soft spot for the Ukrainian studio's Sherlock stories, then you'll forgive the slightly roughshod presentation, and enjoy the occult mystery at The Awakened's dark heart. This is a good, solid remake that hits all of the right notes.

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened

Made in a warzone, Sherlock Holmes The Awakened is a solid remake that covers all of the bases you'd normally expect from Frogwares' Sherlock series, delivering an absorbing mystery and a procession of nicely executed puzzles. It's a perfect stop-gap before Chapter Two comes along.

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The soundtrack is nice and unobtrusive, carrying the adventure along, while Chapter One's voice actors return as Holmes and Watson. Decent.


Frogwares' Unreal Engine visuals are a tad creaky, as ever, but there's an excellent sense of time and place in The Awakened.


There are few significant changes to the series' established formula here, but then, Frogwares didn't really need to change anything. Reliably solid.


A substantial story with a few side quests peppered amid the main path. Once you've been through it once, however, there's zero replay value.


A few specific objectives to uncover as you work your way through the story, but there's nothing connected to the game's optional cases, which is odd.

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