Sherlock Holmes: Another Bow
for C64

Mr Creosote:
Company: Bantam
Year: 1985
Genre: Adventure
Theme: Based on Other Media / Mystery
Language: English
Licence: Commercial
Views: 22434
Review by Mr Creosote (2002-04-22)

Whole generations have been entertained and thrilled by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's most popular character by now. 221b Baker Street has been turned into the museum of a person which never lived there and even never existed! And only because of the random (?) choice of an author who had no idea what he had just created. In fact, the character Sherlock Holmes is so well known that many people actually believe he is a historical character!

Sherlock Holmes: Another Bow boasts the Bantam (the publisher of the books themselves) name on its title screen. As a consequence (?), it is constructed a lot like a book: linear. Most of the time, you're told where to go next either directly or indirectly. And that's already most of the solution. Like in the 'real' cases, Sherlock Holmes reveals the solution mostly by observation, not by manipulation. So it's being at the right place at the right time.

The plot is set on a ship. It is shortly after the First World War. Sherlock Holmes has retired from his business. He and Dr Watson are cruising with an illustrous set of passengers. And of course, like everywhere the master detective turns up, there are plots, schemes and conspiracies going on in the background. Refer to the manual for the full background story (you'll have to read it, otherwise you'll soon be lost with all these names).

On the whole, there are six cases to solve in just five days on board (of which the first one is not playable). These cases don't take place one after another - after all, the villains don't coordinate their actions. So it is very well possible (and likely) that you don't solve them all in one game. To completely win the game, you have to succeed at all of them in a single session. But completing it is also possible with just a fraction of the overall knowledge.

The parallel structure and the result that the player has to correctly fit his observations into the various plots makes up for the linear structure and the lack of real puzzles. Furthermore, the texts are well written, the story is good. The game is told from Dr Watson's perspective, which can be a bit confusing since you're playing Sherlock Holmes. So if you examine something, you get Watson's description, not Holmes'. And sometimes, you get only the description of Holmes' action which is even less telling.

The game engine is completely text-based and the parser doesn't follow traditional Infocom standards. It is for example possible to 'talk to' people and 'go to' places. But it works well enough if you restrict yourself to the basics. The graphics aren't overly spectacular: the room in which you currently are is being shown in the background and portraits of all characters which are there, too, are laid over it. These portraits fit in style, and that's about as much as can be said about the graphics.

Overall, an adventure for beginners. It is no problem to solve it on one evening if you read the introduction in the manual and the game texts carefully. But the game is rewarding. And once you've solved all riddles and cases, you can still try doing some absurd stuff - there are some really funny scenes if you just fool around! A design detail which sadly enough died with Interactive Fiction.

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