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Saturday, December 2, 2023

They’re remaking the game where Sherlock Holmes fights Cthulhu

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Developer Frogwares is returning to its roots, choosing to adapt an old story as a somewhat-sequel to last year’s Sherlock Holmes Chapter One. The game the sequel is based on, Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, was one of the first Frogwares games I know of, appearing on Steam in the hazy days of 2006, back when you could easily keep track of everything new that came out each week.

The Awakened is perhaps best remembered as the one where Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson take on a Cthulhu cult. The remake will include the original game, but also have updated systems and new content to fit with the framework established in Chapter One. That also means refreshed visuals at 2022 standards, new voice acting, and a better camera.

Frogwares said in a blog post that it’s “a dark, HP Lovecraft-inspired story infused with the narrative arc of a young Sherlock Holmes taking on his first big case.”

The decision was made partly due to the war in Ukraine, where Frogwares is based. “We’ve always wanted to remake this game at some point, but the war has forced us into making it now,” producer Denys Chebotarov told Rock Paper Shotgun. Simply put: Working with an existing, stable story framework means it’s much easier for the studio to get on with work in uncertain times.

Part of The Awakened’s development will be funded via a Kickstarter campaign. Frogwares says that this is because of the uncertainty of development during a war: “This war is continually throwing new challenges at us that each time requires we stop, regroup, and adapt. This takes time, effort, and in some cases, money that would normally be marked to fund the production of a game.” In short, Frogwares says “this safety net will allow us to put our team’s needs and security first.”

The early Frogwares outings were much rougher, but the recent Sherlock Holmes Chapter One was positively received. In our review, Fraser Brown called it “the ultimate expression of developer Frogwares’ ambition for its venerable sleuthing series and, simultaneously, its strangest entry.”

Which, seeing as they’re doing the one with Cthulhus and things, probably won’t be true for long—at least as far as the “strangest” part goes. You can read Frogwares’ complete announcement on its website. For my part, I continue my default stance of videogame cosmic horror skepticism.

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