Sherlock Holmes: The Vatican Cameos

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5 /5

The very talented group, Ellicott Creek Software developed a Adventure game in 1986 and interestingly called it Sherlock Holmes: The Vatican Cameos. The game is so engaging that you will feel that “time flies”.

Sherlock Holmes: The Vatican Cameos description

Oddly enough, but one of the first computer games about Sherlock Holmes, born in 1984-85 the years, such as the Australian "Sherlock" and the American "Sherlock Holmes in "Another Bow"," let and belonged to the category of Interactive Fiction, but sported and graphic reproduction on the screen, if not all, then at least some locations. With their light hand of the great detective for a long time took pride of place as the hero of works of this genre, but all subsequent adventures were exclusively textual. Partly it's even logical, since we are talking about serious literary basis: why limit a flight of fancy "interactive reader" primitive visual shapes? At least if the quality of the texts will not leave nothing to be desired.

Probably about the same way, reasoned the American company Ellicott Creek Software, not noted in the history of anything other than the release of "Sherlock Holmes: The Vatican Cameos" for the IBM PC, Apple II and C64 (and the last two versions are currently not found). Did not take place and obviously planned electronic embodiment in the same series of other detective stories about Holmes, Watson and Lestrade: how can we understand the particular success of the project is not known – however the game is in many ways remarkable. And, above all, the solidity of his connection with the "Canon" (as it is called in the circle of "sherlockiana" all published by A. Conan Doyle the works of Dr. Watson). "History of the Vatican cameos" is mentioned by Holmes in "the hound of the Baskervilles": is it he was busy so I didn't pay any attention to the mysterious death of old sir Charles...

This time the event is dated very accurately, and takes place from 21 to 26 April 1888. Moreover, half of the user's guide is not known before (of course, specially written by authors of the game) the story "The Adventure of the Vatican Cameos" – and adapted to the style of Watson! More precisely, the first four chapters encompassing the history of the game. In a fairly hot spring day in the living room of Holmes employed two though not the most interesting things at once: the theft of precious works of art from the collection of the Vatican, which were to be exhibited in London, and the disappearance of Mycroft's agent, designed to monitor the safety of these values, – breaks into a young man named Jeffrey Pelton. Just on the heels followed by the police who suspect him of the murder and robbery of a neighbor in furnished rooms, in the end, inspector Lestrade still arrest our unexpected client directly to the house on Baker Street, but now Pelton may have to be relaxed: the great detective convinced of his innocence and will do everything to unravel this mysterious case... Well, or try to do is to measure the ability of the player, and which will guide the actions of Sherlock.

In addition to such literary ties, the authors have prepared for us another surprise: the interface of the game is not like the usual parser representatives of the genre of IF, but like almost "Maniac Mansion" with its panel of control verbs, which Lucasfilm Games will delight the world of computer entertainment only a year later. Yes: basic commands in "Sherlock Holmes: The Vatican Cameos" is not typed down in a text string, as presented in the top menu in finished form. Of course, up to this point-and-click far, because all nouns will have to be entered manually. Basic actions are only five, and they are invoked by pressing the corresponding digits. The MOVE command listed as number 1 is the most difficult, because if Holmes is on the street, in addition it is necessary to give the name or address of the destination; if it happens in the building, quite familiar directions (N, E, S, W, U or D). In particular the connecting points both options are available (OVE IN A DIRECTION, OR O SOMEWHERE?), but sometimes only once: by a strange decision of the authors, the choice of destination may be a point of no return.

Keys 2, 3 and 5 are more basic LOOK, EXAMINE and READ – every time you add a team one noun. ASK (4) requires to specify first the name of the interlocutor, and then the topic of conversation. The sixth control point, OTHER, hides several of the more rare verbs that have to be input manually: RECALL allows you to recall the latest information about seen or read; RETURN returns to the previous visited location; QUIT allows you to leave the game and go to the start screen with the option to save the progress of the passage made accessible in one cell. Even more remarkable team EAT and SLEEP – although he Holmes traditionally needs no rest, no reinforcements forces, invariably accompanying Watson periodically begins to complain of hunger and fatigue. Nagging doctors can from time to time to ignore, but sooner or later the legitimate demands of his faithful biographer will have to satisfy: a visit to the cafe will take two hours, and an extra visit to Mrs Hudson at Baker Street – as many as four.

Yes, as you can see, the game takes place in real time. On this hint, and another team from the list OTHER – WAIT, and also the last of the elements of the interface caused by the figure 7 and allows you to look at the calendar and steadily ticking clock. Let in this adventure Holmes and threatens death from bandit bullet, but success in solving the case of cameos, as in the case of a double murder mystery in "Sherlock", depends on the correct sequence and speed of action: procrastination or being late is death. In this case, the end of the great detectives have yet to speak in not quite usual role of witness in court – answering ten key questions. To answer only one word, but to find out the name of the offender and other important information, you need to be in the right place at the right time! To complete the story of the appearance of the game, it should be noted also the presence of the sound design – even in the form of a standard PC speaker "beeps".

If in theory a solution to the problem of the interface can be called very interesting, in practice it is unlikely to please the player – at least a lack of inventory and the ability to routinely perform all the current location by typing [L]OOK. Once in the beginning of the game on the street in front of his own house at number 221b, you can even experience some sense of frustration: none of the noun mentioned in the description of the environment for examination and study seems to be not suitable; the movement of any one of the four sides of the light was not functioning; calling a cab interface not provided; to talk with an invisible Watson somehow not allowed... Not the first and not the tenth time impossible to install that you can use as a noun for the verb MOVE the name of one of those locations mentioned in "The Adventure of the Vatican Cameos" or applied after a small Glossary of the London attractions. And thus it is necessary to closely monitor lost time, which, coupled with the limited save feature with a single cell, and then only at the end of the game, able to deliver to the player a lot of individual troubles.

In such a situation, in truth, already not happy that the game has claimed more than sixty locations – and over 13 thousand words of text, not only extensive, but also more or less successfully styled on the original "Canon". The search for witnesses also constantly moving around London, catching some of them in a lie with discovered facts, getting rid of false leads, consuming precious time, all of this is very simple task. Suffice it to mention that the developers have guaranteed the player first reveals "the Case of the Vatican cameos", a prize of $ 1,000! Whether it was eventually issued, and to whom, alas, science is not known. But nothing prevents every fan of Sherlock Holmes to try their hand at "Sherlock Holmes: The Vatican Cameos". Except, of course, the unusual interface and other annoying game restrictions that do not allow to evaluate this very interesting and almost a "canonical" experiment positively.

Have you ever wondered what kind of video games were played in the good old days? Try playing Sherlock Holmes: The Vatican Cameos online now and we are sure you will not stop playing again.


Rating breakdown
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