Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Mummy—Late to the Party, but Still Worth a Warning
I found myself standing in front of the bargain bin at Zellers last week, halfheartedly dipping my hand into its bleak contents and tossing the occasional Imagine title aside. As much as I enjoy watching Dave monopolize the big TV in the living room with his MW2 shenanigans, I figured it was about time I picked up the old DS again and use his lap as a footstool—and I’m always up for some point-and-click adventure action. At least, I thought I was…
I justified my purchase with the idea that, for ten bucks, Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Mummy would be good for whiling away a Sunday afternoon much like a crappy romance novel would help to kill a few hours (and a few brain cells, for that matter). On that front, anyway, this budget title did not disappoint. However, I have thus far been spoiled by such DS gems as Trace Memory and Hotel Dusk which, though sometimes challenging, were ultimately satisfying and worth lending to fellow fans of the genre. So did I think that this iteration of the Sherlock Holmes series would live up to my expectations? Well, of course not! I figured it would be bad… I just hoped it wouldn’t have been so lazy and half-assed in its badness.
The thing is—I’m a grinder by nature. I will click the crap out of every screen that comes my way, which is why Dave is not a fan of playing co-op with me if scouring for loot is an option. But this game went a little nuts—so much so that, if it frustrated a grinder like me, it’s likely going to cause the average gamer to tear the cartridge from the DS and whip it at the first innocent bystander who crossed his/her path. I mean, I understand that it was originally created for the PC, where the screen was larger and the graphics more robust but, really, squinting at a tiny screen and scribbling exhaustively with the stylus to find that single out-of place pixel in order to bring up that magnifying glass icon can get a little tiresome. And even when Dave offered to take it off my hands to give it a try, I refused—I love him too much to put him through that pain.
I’ll not go into the rich and well-developed storyline… because there are three things wrong with the first half of that sentence. Suffice it to say that when you see the mummy animation, you’ll think that Scooby Doo and the gang can’t be far behind. Flashlights and Q-tips, anyone?
And I know I’m nitpicking here, but there was a clue that I missed near the end (and I know I missed it because I got confused when it was mentioned, so looked it up afterwards) that Sherlock claimed to have discovered in his requisite this-is-how-I-solved-the-case monologue when, in fact, he didn’t find it because I must have skipped that particular area of screen-scouring goodness (hey, I was running out of time—and oxygen in some cases). And it doesn’t take much to have rectified this issue: Why not take a page from Hotel Dusk, for example, and give the player an indication that he/she might have forgotten something before leaving a room? I know it certainly would have saved me a lot of frustration and, perhaps, the Clues menu might not have had to be so intensive (or necessary, even) as a result of the player otherwise having missed some pretty important items.
So would I recommend this game? For the 30 bucks Amazon.ca is asking for it (at the time of this posting)? Oh, hell no. But for the ten bucks I paid for it, though—well, it depends—are you going on a long car trip and don’t feel like talking to the driver? Do you feel like looking like you’re playing a DS game while, in reality, you’re just going through the motions because you’re constantly accessing the Clues menu because you missed some arbitrary tidbit like not climbing a ladder that wasn’t previously climbable and scouring a shelf full of same-colour books for ten minutes to find something you don’t even know you need and now you’re screwed and have to reload the level because you ran out of time? Maybe! But we need more and better point-and-click adventures for the DS—so if you absolutely must buy it to complete some kind of fetishy Holmes collection, do not (I repeat, do not) pay any more than ten dollars for this game. To do so would reward bad, lazy, and half-assed behaviour.