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The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes is an adventure game series developed by Mythos Software and published by the American computer game company Electronic Arts in the 1990s. The series contains The Case of the Serrated Scalpel (1992), and the The Case of the Rose Tattoo (1996).
The two games in the series made extensive use of a location map, which allowed players quick, direct access to all game locations. While not the first computer detective game, The Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes nonetheless advanced the genre through its use of the Sherlock Holmes investigative methods, from interviewing witnesses to lab analysis. The games introduced detailed environments and ambience sounds. The series features a relatively high degree of historic accuracy as it conjures up London of the late Victorian Era.
The crime novel genre of which Sherlock Holmes is part stresses the importance of details in the surroundings, analysed by the protagonist, may play a decisive part in solving the mystery. In this regard, the gameplay can be said to marry the point-and-click style of 1990s adventure games with the style of Sherlock Holmes novels. Virtually every couch and fireplace in the game has a detailed description when clicked upon. The game is often laid out so that Holmes, when entering a house, will be studying the foyer and its items in detail, deducing much about the inhabitants before being presented to them. The descriptions of everyday items also often encompass a description of Victorian Britain.
The Case of the Serrated Scalpel
The Player, as Sherlock Holmes, is engaged by Scotland Yard to help with the murder investigation of a young actress. While the manner of her death suggests this is another strike by Jack the Ripper, Holmes believes someone else had committed the crime. The investigation takes Holmes and Watson to many parts of late 19th Century London, including a perfume shop, the zoological gardens, the morgue, a pub, several dwellings, an abandoned dock and of course 221B Baker Street.
The graphics are VGA, with MIDI music and a few scenes with digitalized speech (in the other scenes there are sound effects, but no speech). The player interacts with the characters through a command menu that is intuitive for anyone who had played other adventure games of the period. A manual exists but is not necessary.
The Case of the Rose Tattoo
Holmes' brother Mycroft is caught in an explosion when his club, the Diogenes, is blown up. The Player, first as Doctor Watson and then as Sherlock Holmes, investigates the explosion and discovers that it was not a gas leak but a bomb which was the cause. This leads them to investigate a case of espionage and the strange death of an unidentified man. In this game, establishing the identity of the victim is as important as finding out who killed him. The intricate plot leads the player to a great number of locations over town and involves several subplots.
The game is longer than its predecessor and features a much higher degree of historical accuracy and detail. The graphics are near-photo quality and the atmospheric sounds more are realistic, while the background music, which communicated the mood of the scenes in the first game, is applied less in the Rose Tattoo. Unlike the previous game, digitalized speech is employed throughout the game and adds characterization to the NPCs.
Most characters in the game appear to have been made by filming real people dressed up in costumes, against a bluescreen. While the characters are more lifelike, the Rose Tattoo has done away with the large high-quality faces shown during dialogues in the first game, so that the maximum "resolution" can in a way be said to have decreased from the first to the second game. This use of in-game video can also be found in e.g. Jones in the Fast Lane and Under a Killing Moon and in retrospect appear as a transient trend created by the available hardware. The CD-ROM greatly increased the size a computer game was expected to utilise. Most games of this period filled the empty space with digitalized speech and cut-scene videos. Later, advances in CPU and graphic card hardware allowed high-resolution characters to be rendered in 3D, obsoleting the photorealistic approach taken in the Rose Tattoo, due to the difficulty of capturing a real-world object in 3D.
Sherlock Holmes: Jarion Monroe
Dr. Watson: Roger L. Jackson
Mrs. Hudson: Coralie Persee
Wiggins (Baker Street Irregulars): Paul Vincent Black