Awakened: The Game Is Afoot
It has been a while since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his loyal sidekick, Dr. Watson, have solved mysteries on our computer screens. In Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, they battle unholy minions created by another famous writer, Howard Phillips Lovecraft, including the elder god Cthulhu and the crazy cultists who worship him.
Fans of either writer should feel at home. Holmes is top-notch at solving mysteries with attitude, and the Lovecraft angle makes the game creepy.
The Awakened, played in first person, features extremely good-looking 3-D environments. You explore foggy London, including 221B Baker St.; the bowels of a shocking Swiss asylum; New Orleans; and various spooky tunnels and caves.
Puzzles involve searching for clues and objects that can be used to solve either an immediate problem, such as trying to open a locked door, or piecing together part of the larger mystery, which involves servants and people of low social standing disappearing from their homes in London. The game features traditional puzzles, such as moving number tiles into the proper sequence; physical puzzles, such as maneuvering objects around a room or manipulating lights in patterns; and even the analysis of chemicals and other substances in Holmes's laboratory.
Each conversation and clue is meticulously detailed in a notebook you carry. That is a good thing, because from time to time Holmes will turn to you (in your role as Watson) and ask where you think the duo should travel next. You have to type your answer, so paying attention is required.
The voice acting is excellent, with Holmes portrayed so well you will want to find clues just to trigger one of his calm monologues, in which he proves (again) that he is the smartest guy in the room.
Combining the worlds of two great writers into one game is ingenious. And although at first they don't seem to go together, it ultimately works.
-- John Breeden II
Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Mature; PC Windows 2000/XP/Vista ($30) CDV Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened Mature; PC Windows 2000/XP/Vista ($30) CDV