Holmes: Case Of The Silver Earring
September 5, 2004
Holmes: The Case of the Silver Earring
is the latest game from Frogwares, a Ukranian based developer who
previously brought us Sherlock Holmes:
Mystery of the Mummy. So how fares their second foray into
the world of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective?
Let’s grab a pipe and deerstalker and investigate.
Sherlock Holmes, accompanied by Dr. Watson, is invited to a party
organized at Sherringford Hall by Sir Melvyn Bromsby, construction
tycoon. All guests are invited to welcome his daughter, Lavinia
who has just returned to England.
Rumours circulate that Sir Bromsby is to announce something very
important concerning the future of his business. As ithe party
starts, Sir Bromsby, accompanied by his right hand man Hermann Grimble,
takes his place on the stage. As he prepares to give the speech, a
shot rings out and Sir Melvyn Bromsby falls to the floor dead.
The story that follows is entirely original. Rather than basing it
on one of the Conan Doyle short stories, Frogwares has utilized a story
that was written by a fan. It has an authentic Victorian feel to
it although if I could nit pick for a second there are some metric
measurements used in the script when the UK didn’t use metric
measurement until 1963.
As you investigate, what initially looks like a simple case soon becomes
very complicated with lots of suspects to question, clues to piece
together and leads to chase down. The mystery will lead you to a
number of locations in and around London from the mansion where the
murder took place to a cement factory, an abbey and a theatre as you try
to connect the various loose ends.
The story is extremely linear and I often felt led around by the
nose. However I found the story to be riveting and it had me
hooked right until the end--constantly trying to figure out whodunit.
The characterization of the various characters is superb--especially the
interplay between Holmes, Watson and Lestrade, all of whom appear
faithful to the original stories. This depth of characterization
further improved the storyline. The other characters all have a
lot to say and the various pictures and letters you find enrich the
atmosphere and provide a solid foundation for the mystery.
In particular the 20-minute final movie wherein Holmes lays out who
killed Sir Brombsy is classic Sherlock Holmes. Using flashbacks he
details all the evidence and shows how and why the murder was committed.
Silver Earring is a 3rd person game that uses the standard
point-and-click interface with the cursor changing to indicate
interactivity or movement to next screen.
Left-clicking on hotspots will interact with your surroundings and
double-clicking will enable Holmes to run (but only outdoors).
Right-clicking brings up the inventory bar where Holmes or Watson can
access the items they have picked up or use the standard sleuthing tools
provided (magnifying glass, test tube or tape measure). More
importantly it allows access to the journal which is the most important
aspect of this game.
The journal automatically updates with all information you have
collected so it is vital that you keep checking it as you play.
Once opened you can access one of four pages:
* Conversations – Records all conversations with other characters
* Observations – Notes important discoveries and Holmes observations
* Evidence – Records all letters and photos discovered
* Map – Map of London and Sherringford Hall when in that location.
Used to go to another location.
The majority of the puzzles involve interviewing witnesses and potential
suspects, exhausting all avenues of conversation and searching all
locations for potential clues.
Inventory items can be picked up, but they are usually treated as clues
to read or analyze rather than items used to solve later puzzles.
There are a few exceptions to this, but there are relatively few
traditional inventory puzzles.
There are a few decent logic-based puzzles, but unfortunately they are
all contained in the same location early in the game. The
Checkerboard, Jester, and Noah’s Ark puzzles are very well worked into
the storyline and are moderately easy. Although if anyone says
they can determine the clue in the 3rd picture they are lying. I
still can’t see it even though I know what to look for.
At the end of each day you are given a quiz where you have to back up
your answers with evidence and witness statements that you have
collected. This is an excellent way of making sure at the end of
each day you are going back over your notes and evidence and trying to
put it in perspective with the overall case.
Unfortunately there are a couple of stinkers that could potentially
First, there is a stealth sequence where Holmes has to gain access to
two locations without being spotted by the guard or his dog. This
dog must have been born on Krypton as it has super hearing and x-ray
vision. Get caught (which you will again and again and again) and
it’s game over-- necessitating a reload. Once was bad enough but
making us do it twice is torture.
Second, there is a maze. The maze itself is no problem, but be
aware once you find what you are looking for it triggers a timed
sequence where you have to run through the maze and back again in a very
tight timeframe (i.e. one wrong turn and you won’t make it).
Again failure means game over and reload.
The puzzles are probably the weakest part of what is essentially a story
driven game. The game is more about deductive power and pulling
together of disparate clues than physical puzzles.
As Holmes says at the end of each day the puzzles are “Simplicity
itself,” with prompts blatantly telling you what to do next at various
points. For example when questioning someone Holmes might say
“Maybe I should show them a clue item,” prompting you to use the
inventory. Also due to the linearity of the story, you usually
cannot leave an area until you have collected every bit of evidence from
the scene, no matter how small.
In the end of the game, it is not vital that you actually solve the
mystery, although the finale does provide you with an optional quiz
where you can select who you think is the murderer before you watch the
final scene. Some people might feel cheated by this.
Graphics and Sound
Graphically, the pre-rendered backgrounds are superb and really add to
the Victorian atmosphere. Cutscenes are graphically excellent and
sparingly used to good effect. The options menu has a host of
choices that allow you to select the resolution, refresh rate and colour
depth of the graphics. I found that running at 1280x960, 85 MHz
and 32bit colour depth meant the game was gorgeous to look at.
However the game will run happily at lower resolutions for people with
Other options include the ability to turn on or off the anti-aliasing,
subtitles and the excellent shadow effects.
I found the music in the game to be a tad repetitive although
nice. However, I also thought it too loud--getting in the way of
the conversations. I elected to turn the music down to a lower
volume and found it a lot more pleasant to listen to.
One of the highlights of the game is the superb voice over for each of
the characters. Each of them has a distinct voice--from the
cockney accents of the maids to the “old boy” military officer, each
of the voices are very well done. Without a doubt the voices of
Holmes and Watson were the stars of the show. I thought they were
perfect for the part and never once tired of hearing them.
There is a distinct lack of control over the investigation and you
invariably feel you are just along for the ride and not actually solving
However this is more than made up for by a riveting storyline, excellent
characterizations and wonderful graphics which all lead to a rich
I for one look forward to further adventures of Sherlock Holmes in the
Come, Watson, this infernal case had haunted me for ten days. I hereby
banish it completely from my presence.
Until Next time.