Frogwares announced their next Sherlock Holmes-title for 2021 and I am beyond excited! Shame on me for neglecting to review the two of their previous titles that I have played and enjoyed, namely Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments and Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter.
My excitement stems from my passion for puzzles, namely games that help me exercise my brain more than my thumbs on the controller. These games will have you solve crimes, force you to gear up your tactical and strategical thinking or feature a choice-based story that relies on your being attentive the entire time. They can be both fun and frustrating, but the sweet rush of triumph once a puzzle or crime is solved will be reward and motivation enough to keep you going.
In my experience, which isn’t extensive at all, there are two types of said games. While the appeal of one will be the sometimes extremely hard to crack, brain-twisting puzzles/cases you have to solve in order to progress, the other will pack said puzzles into a great story and require you to always be aware of your choices and pay very close attention to what is going on.
So, here are my spoiler-free Top 5 Games That Will Twist Your Brain.
5. Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment
This was the first Sherlock Holmes-game I played and it took me back decades, when I found myself devouring the mind-popping, elaborately constructed “The Mystery of the Yellow Room” by “Phantom of the Opera-“author Gaston Leroux. Puzzling your way through various crime scenes, sometimes engaging in more physical activity, this one had me wanting more. Which I got in the shape of Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter.
4. Life is Strange
Life is Strange is one of those rare gems where the story is everything. In this episodic adventure you will have to consider the possible consequences of what you choose to say or do and that, apart from the beautifully written relationships you will experience with your companions, is the greatest appeal of this game. Personally, Life is Strange remains one of my favorite games to date. This winter, I hope to find the time to enjoy its successor, Life is Strange 2, in full, having only managed to play the first episode to date.
Moss is a VR-adventure that makes the player a central part of the story, assisting its heroine on her journey and interacting with her in the cutest way (“High five, girl!”). As both spectator, companion and protector you will explore a mythical, beautiful world where dangers lurk at every corner. What is more, you will have to solve a ton of puzzles in order to get your heroine across the levels and use your tactical prowess to keep her safe during battles. One of the greatest VR-games I have played yet, though admittedly those are only a handful anyway. I am picky when it comes to games and so far there are not simply enough story-centered VR-games.
2. The Council
This episodic adventure is part detective game, part political thriller mixed with mystery elements. In the beginning, you will have to choose your specialization from three classes that will open up opportunities, but also prevent you from making use of certain actions that are only available to other classes. Whichever class you choose, you will have to seriously use your brains to get through this game. Whatever you say or do will either reveal new clues or obscure them. What is more, to succeed in your ever-changing mission, you need to get to know as much as you can about your opponents among the Council, have to find their strengths and weaknesses to second-guess what to say to convince them of something. Apart from the psychological and political tactics you will also have to solve a number of more or less mind-boggling puzzles. Some of these rank among the most tricky I have ever had to solve in a game.
1. The Last Guardian
In The Last Guardian the entire game is a puzzle. There are little to no instructions of how to communicate with your companion or how to solve the environmental puzzles that get you from one part of the setting to the next. You have to pay very close attention to your companion’s reactions to understand what you need to do and you need to observe your surroundings carefully to figure out how to plot your course across a crumbling temple complex. As you progress, the relationship between the protagonists evolves into a beautiful friendship, too, despite there being no dialogue at all. It is a true master piece, which is why it lands the top spot, even though it is not your classical puzzle/detective game.
Next up you will learn more of the ambiguous characters of Ghost of Tsushima and get the story of how I fared during my return to the Assassin’s Creed-franchise in Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Until then, keep on playing!