The Ukrainian developers of Frogwares have no intention of surrendering to the war that is upsetting their country and, despite the economic and logistical difficulties associated with the project and the hateful setting that accompanies it (find at this link an in-depth analysis on the development of video games in Ukraine ), have revealed to the world the nature of theirs next video game dedicated to Sherlock Holmes: after having delighted us only a few months ago with the first chapter of a new saga (recovered our review of Sherlock Holmes Chapter One), the studio takes a step forward in history to tell the affirmation of the myth, rebuilding the original fusion between Arthur Conan Doyle and HP Lovecraft from scratch that they had brought to PC back in 2006. The much talked about Project Palianytsia is in fact a remake of Sherlock Holmes: The Awakening of the Divinity, reinvented to fit into the new course of the investigator and modernized to make the nightmare of a dark god current and more shocking. .
The horror is in understanding
The young detective who solved the mysteries of Cordona still has a lot to learn about human nature and its perversions, but his wit has already made him stand out in the world of police as one of the best talents on the scene.
While a trivial disappearance case unfolded in the mist-shrouded streets of Victorian London, the rising star of the investigation meets a newly adult doctor named John Watsonwho in a short time will become an essential companion in his adventures. For the moment the two are only acquaintances, but their relationship is destined to cement itself through a shared trauma, which will lead the two analytical minds to take note of the unspeakable terror that links the English capital to an evil deity coming from another galaxy.
During the research, in fact, the detective will discover the existence of a cult dedicated to the worship of Cthulhu, a dark entity ready to invade our plane of reality following the dictates of an ancient prophecy that announces its dominion over the world. . Holmes has always elevated analysis and experience to an indispensable foundation for his life, but some cognitions are capable of upsetting the human intellect by fragmenting itfor this he will have to close his eyes in the presence of terrifying notions by solving the London mystery without staring at the abyss that is already observing him.
A tale of origins
The declared goal by the Ukrainian developers is to be able to create a plausible context that explains two fundamental traits of the historiography dedicated to Holmes: the restless spirit that swirls in the mind of the detective and the deep friendship that binds him to Dr. Watson. To argue these distinctive characteristics of the characters they chose to build a very tormenting past that united themtaking up the cornerstones of a plot that Frogwares herself had already written, setting the protagonists in the cosmic horror painted by Lovecraft with his Cthulhu cycle.
The idea of clashing the British detective’s fine and cynical intellect with the inscrutability linked to the evil god continues to arouse enormous fascination, and that is why the adventure dated 2006 is now temporarily relocated a few years after the first chapter of the new sagaintroducing young and still developing protagonists, referring to the anecdotes told in the previous episode to carry on a story with undisputed potential. The creation of a new video game involves high costs and always new work challenges, which is why the situation that upsets their country of origin had questioned the continuation of Sherlock Holmes’ adventure, but the Ukrainian developers managed to convince themselves that the project was feasible as the bulk of the work – concept, plot and playful mechanics – was recoverable starting from the 2006 title and the more recent Chapter One, also considering the strong love for a production that they wanted to re-propose for some time in a modern way .
What the original game was like
The Awakening of the Divinity was the first title developed by Frogwares to build a 3D scenario around the protagonist, without the pre-rendered environments that had characterized the previous works, but still using the first person view to move within freely explorable settings.
It starts as a must from the English capital and its streets cloaked by the greyness of the factories, but soon the investigations will lead the iconic duo to the psychiatric ward of a Swiss clinic, also passing through the marshes of the bayou in New Orleans before arriving to the Scottish highlands where the prophecy of Cthulhu is likely to come true. In 2008 a remastered version of the title removed the first-person view to take advantage of a camera placed behind the characters, but the game mechanics remained based on the exploration and collection of evidence on the places of the crime, carrying on the conversations with the NPCs without the possibility of guiding the dialogues. Some items could be brought back to the 221B Baker Street laboratory to deepen the research under the light of an optical microscope or with chemical analysis, while there was also the possibility of picking locks and deciphering the puzzles to unlock new important clues.
The weight of experience
The new proposal of Frogwares therefore leaves unchanged the main plot of the game seen 16 years ago, adapting it on the narrative level only in the rejuvenated age of its protagonists and building around them the terrifying story that would explain the deep friendship that unites them.
Although the plot is almost already written, the developers have chosen to rebuild the title from scratch creating new polygonal models and animating them in Unreal Engine 4, bending the old concept of investigation towards the playful mechanisms already appreciated in their most recent title, consequently adding more secondary content and a renewed third-person perspective. In the same way, new lines of dialogue in English will be recorded, however, supporting translations in different languages, and consequently also the cutscenes will be reconstructed without relying on the antiquated ones of 2006.
Other small improvements to the overall quality of the play experience will be added to modernize an intriguing title to say the leastwhich aims to overturn the mind of young Holmes with an adventure set in the Lovecraftian imaginary of an evil London, arriving on PC and all consoles following the Kickstarter campaign to finance the ambitious crossover.