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Game: Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Persian Carpet
Developer: Frogwares
Publisher: Big Fish Games
Year: 2008
Reviewed: 2008
Platform: PC
Genre: Adventure / Puzzle / Hidden Object
Reviewer: ValkyrDeath

After releasing four games in their Sherlock Holmes series over the last few years, Frogwares have now created a fifth Holmes game, but this time, it’s aimed at casual gamers. And while it’s better than many of the other entries into that mostly mediocre category of games, it still suffers from quite a few problems, especially some rather annoying laziness of design.

Persian Carpet is basically an hidden object game, of which seemingly hundreds seem to litter the casual gaming sites, almost all identical. Thankfully, this one actually makes things a bit more interesting. Whereas many hidden object games see you collecting huge lists of random objects, here you have a smaller number of items that are actually relevant. It’s not the only game to do this, but it makes the game more interesting, and given Frogwares experience creating Sherlock Holmes adventure games, it works well here. Because of this, many puzzles can be spread throughout the environments to add variety to the gameplay, which improves things quite a lot, although there are some annoyances here which will be mentioned later.

Sherlock Holmes Persian Carpet Deja Vu
Hmm… I’m getting a strange feeling of déjà vu

There’s not a lot of actual writing in the game to tell the story, although at the end of the case, Holmes will explain everything in his usual manner. Ultimately, this is a puzzle game. But the case you’re working on actually is a suitable crime for Holmes to be investigating, and unlike many investigation games, it actually gives you a way to try and discover the culprit for yourself at the end before being told. It’s not a hugely complex way to do it, but it lets you feel like you’re actually doing some of the work yourself. At the end of the game you have to open up a page showing all the evidence you’ve collected in each location, along with evidence related to the various suspects, and start finding connections between them. Once you’ve managed to match up the victim, a suspect, a crime scene and several other factors, you get the full explanation.

Graphically the game is fine, although it does borrow some locations from their earlier adventure game Secret of the Silver Earring. While it makes sense for them to use the same graphics if the same locations are going to be used, it sometimes feels like they’re using the locations just so they can re-use the graphics rather than because they fit into the plot. One of the problems with Silver Earring was that the music, while good, was repeated too often. So it’s even worse that they’ve used that same music again here too. With so much being reused from an earlier release, it makes you wonder how much effort actually went into the game.

I mentioned some annoyances with the puzzles earlier, and one of these relates to the reuse of earlier material too. The automaton card game sequence puzzle from Silver Earring makes another appearance here. The idea of the puzzle is to pick the correct playing card to complete the sequence showing on the machine, and while the sequences are different this time, it’s still the same machine and the same puzzle all over again. On top of this, I had to solve the three jugs puzzle for about the 800th time. That’s the puzzle where you have a 3 pint/litre/whatever jug and a 5 pint/litre/whatever jug and have to make 4 pints/litres/whatevergrams from them. It’s a centuries old puzzle and just sheer laziness to include it in a game instead of putting some thought into a new puzzle. I solved it most recently when replaying Knights of the Old Republic, but even worse, Frogwares used this before in Mystery of the Mummy. So they’re reusing puzzles that were already old the first time. I’m completely sick of going through the motions of doing this puzzle, since I solved it years ago and after all the games using it, the solution is permanently engraved into my brain.

Sherlock Holmes Persian Carpet Lockpicking
This really is just lockpicking by the numbers.

Most of the other puzzles in the game are a bit more interesting, but another of the annoyances I mentioned is that each level has a time limit. Each level contains several puzzles, some of which can be quite tricky. An individual time limit for each puzzle I could accept, but as it is, you could solve two challenging puzzles, only to run out of time and be sent all the way back to the start of the level, having to find all the same objects and solve the same puzzles all over again. Replaying segments of any game is annoying, but when it’s a puzzle game with puzzles you’ve already solved, it’s completely tedious and inexcusable. The puzzles aren’t always good either, with one in particular being a case of guessing a combination for a lock to get into a jewellery box within a certain number of attempts, which is entirely a matter of luck.

The actual object location side of the game is much more reasonable. The objects are in locations where they actually would serve as clues, and they’re well enough hidden in the scene without becoming too much of an irritating pixel hunt. You also get three hints per chapter of the game, which will show you the location of one of the items you’re struggling to find. Usually this is enough to ensure you don’t encounter any problems with these sections. Occasionally you will get to examine the picture of a suspect to locate clues on their person too. This is fairly easy in terms of locating the clues, but it’s also the area where the game does encounter some technical troubles. You locate the clues with a magnifying glass, but sometimes you need to click in exactly the right place to get the clue to register, even if clicking a slightly different spot still has the clue entirely in the glass. Mostly I had problems with getting the shoe prints in these parts.

Ultimately, Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Persian Carpet is a reasonable casual game, but the repetition caused by the annoying time limits added to all the shameless reuse of old puzzles holds it back from being something I can entirely recommend. For a fan of hidden object games, it’s probably worthwhile, but there are better, more worthy games out there even in that genre. The game is not absolutely dreadful, but nothing special.

Save System Review: Saves automatically after each level, but there’s no ability to save during a level. Combined with the time limit, this can lead to tedious resolving of puzzles you’ve already done, just because you ran out of time right at the end.
Graphics: The graphics are pretty good, but then they should be, since so many of them are taken from their earlier Silver Earring game.
Sound: Very little in the way of sound effects, and that exact same music that became so repetitive in their earlier game.
Bugs: The only problems I noticed were the aforementioned troubles with having to click in the exact right spot to get objects to register when examining the pictures of suspects.
Gameplay: Not bad, but simplistic. Some of the puzzles are pretty good, but it’s spoiled by the time limit that can cause you to end up replaying them.
Storyline: Just a standard mystery to tie the object hunting and puzzles to.

Arbitrary Final Score: 1.5 stars

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