THE CASE OF THE SERRATED SCALPEL / Electronic Arts / PC
 
 
It's been so long since I've read any of the Holmes stories that I can't really say how true the game is to them, but it's certainly commited to a very high level of period authenticity in the background details and dialogue. Serrated Scalpel is an adventure game most comparable to LucasArts adventures of the early '90s (verb menu and no deaths), but with more of a focus on investigation of crime scenes and noting fine details which you'll be questioned on later. Again, comparable to LucasArts, you can't get hung up on this; usually, the right option in conversation won't appear until you've been everywhere and examined everything you need to, and you can keep re-trying everything as much as you need. There's even some non-linearity in how you approach the investigation, though it all ends up leading to the same place in the end.

This is a bit of a double-edged sword in that the challenge sometimes comes down solely to pixel-hunting; as you'll learn by investigating your first body early on in the game, you often have to "look" at something multiple times to get various new cues to come available in the same area. I never felt the game went over the edge with this, though; the game's "gentle" approach and logical nature makes it a lot more tolerable than in most games that pull this trick.

The sprite work is mediocre at best, but the background detail is consistently high and sometimes beautiful, the music is very good, and there's a neat carraige animation as you toodle between locations on the map of London.

I've been an adventure game aficionado since the late '80s and yet somehow, I've never heard of this series until just now; this is an intricately crafted adventure that really deserved more exposure and attention than it got. The only knock against it, really, is datedness; the interface might be a bit too slow and some of the progression a bit too obtuse for players not adjusted to this sort of thing. If you are, though, definitely don't miss this one.
 
 
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