Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper

Common Sense Media says

Gripping but gruesome mystery, appropriate for older teens.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Holmes and Watson want to solve the murders and stop the Ripper, so their ultimate goal is a good one. However, negative messages abound. Holmes justifies his smoking habit, prostitution is accepted, police officers are lied to and deceived, and Holmes offends Watson with his implicit suggestion that prostitutes bring violence upon themselves.That all the violence is perpetrated against women is in itself a negative message. Many of these messages are to be expected, given the setting, era, and story, but that doesn't make them more palatable.

Positive role models

Sherlock Holmes may make a good intellectual role model, but a moral one? Not so much. Aside from his vices, like smoking and drinking, his cold and analytical mind makes him come off as aloof and, at times, heartless. (Note that this is not out of keeping with the original character from literature.) Watson comes off as a much more likable, much better person. He's the one who shows compassion and understanding in the game.

Ease of play

You'll need to solve several mini-mysteries on your way to discovering the identity of Jack the Ripper, and while some are tough, the clues are always there to be found. The puzzles you'll come across vary in difficulty as well, but fans of puzzle games should by no means be stumped.

Violence

The game is gruesome from the very beginning, in which you see the Ripper -- from a first person perspective -- strangle and disembowel a woman. Although you don't see his knife entering her body, you hear the cutting, squishing sounds. You'll have up-close examinations of murder victims, bringing your magnifying glass right up to their slashed throats. You may not see blood as it spills, but red puddles and sprays of droplets cover the crime scenes. Savage killings are described verbally in vivid detail. You will also need to make Holmes and Watson re-enact murders.

Sex

All the Ripper's victims are prostitutes (although the word "prostitute" is never used -- you'll just hear every euphamism imaginable). A brothel is a major setting in the game, and most of the female characters are prostitutes, and many of them will proposition the player. They all show cleavage. Giggles and short moans can be heard from behind closed doors in the brothel. Men make out with hookers in alleyways, kissing loudly -- you'll be able to see the men grab the women's bottoms. Also, necrophilia is discussed and suggested as a motive.

Language

"Damn" is the only bit of profanity you'll hear in the dialogue.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Holmes smokes cigarettes in the game (Watson tells him he shouldn't, but Holmes justifies his need for them in lieu of "something stronger" -- probably a reference to Holmes's cocaine habit in the original literature). Other characters smoke as well, and many drink (Watson orders a drink at a bar) and get drunk, slurring their speech. Staggering drunkards can often be seen wandering the streets of Whitechapel at night.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that while Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper carries a "Teen" rating it may not be appropriate for younger teens. With the exception of the first murder, no killings are shown on screen, but the aftermaths of brutally vicious homicides are not only seen, but seen in close detail. Corpses in blood puddles, with bloated tongues and slashed throats must be pored over with a magnifying glass. Also, prostitution -- a key element of the Ripper story -- is a constant presence in the game. Alcohol and tobacco feature prominently as well.

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

The title of SHERLOCK HOLMES VS. JACK THE RIPPER pretty much tells you what the game is about. It takes the historically accurate settings and events of the real Jack the Ripper serial murder case and imagines what may have happened if fictional sleuth Holmes were there to investigate. You'll switch back and forth between Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, interviewing suspects, scouting for clues, and examining crime scenes. Many mini-mysteries will hit you along the way, as almost everyone who has information to provide wants some problem solved for them before they're willing to talk. There's a unique system, which feels very Holmsian, for deducing what happened at each crime scene. Once all the clues have been picked up, you'll literally shuffle them around on note cards, figuring out which connect to one another and what conclusions can be drawn from those connections.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper stands out as a different and original mystery game, thanks in large part to its realistic note card system of organizing clues. You look at the things you've learned, line them up, and deduce what comes next -- it's deductive thinking at its purest. The story itself is very engaging and will truly leave you guessing. The voice acting is (mostly) well done and there's a nicely created atmosphere of fog and dread. The many different methods for finding clues -- suspect interviews, magnifying glass inspections, crime re-enactments, and walking around looking at things -- keep you from ever losing interest.

Mature mystery lovers should enjoy and appreciate this deep, nuanced, and intellectually challenging game. It's a shame that developers watered down some aspects of it in order (I assume) to avoid an "M" rating, especially since the game still feels too disturbing for younger teens.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the violence in the game. Can examining a murder scene be as emotionally jarring as seeing the murder? Or are you able to detach yourself emotionally? And if so, is that a good thing?

  • Jack the Ripper has been used as a villain in movies, books, and video games for ages. But he was a real person who committed real murders. How does this affect your view of this game?

  • How are women portrayed in the game? Is there anything sympathetic, honorable, or noble in any of the female characters?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360, Windows
Price:$19.99–$29.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Dreamcatcher
Release date:May 4, 2010
Genre:Strategy
ESRB rating:T for Mild Blood, Mild Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence (Windows, Xbox 360)

This review of Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byMissSHolmes April 11, 2011
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Awesome

Best Sherlock Holmes game I have found so far
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educational value
Great role models
Safety and privacy concerns
Kid, 10 years old October 3, 2010
AGE
14
QUALITY
 
It looks fun, but i dont think ill be allowed.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 17 years old Written byNakutambul July 12, 2010
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Bla!

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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