Sherlock Holmes: The Mystery of the Persian Carpet

persian carpet1As I come to the end of the year, we’ve exhausted Jeremy Brett’s run as the great detective and somewhere in the future, I will come back to other greats who have played Holmes but for now, I want to wrap up with a brief discussion of a less well known person who played Sherlock Holmes: me!  Well, I only played him in each of the video games and a couple of the board games, but I still had fun.  And early 2023, I’ll be doing it again, or so the rumors have it.  However, for right now, I wanted to talk about a little video game that seems to fall off the radar even when I try to find more about it on wikipedia.  It’s definitely not going to be to everyone’s liking but I had a surprising amount of fun playing it.  Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Persian Carpet.

Not long ago, Steam had a sale – no surprise there; I still say Steam has the best sales of all the game platforms.  In this sale, a number of Sherlock Holmes games were up for grabs.  I remembered trying The Mystery of the Persian Carpet long ago but didn’t remember liking it.  I’m glad I gave it another chance! 

If graphics and modern gameplay are your thing, stay away.  I can’t deny this is a totally different experience!  However, if casual gaming gets the deerstalker on, I’m all for a bit of relaxing gameplay.  That was largely what The Hound of the Baskervilles was all about, after all, although that still is among the very best casual games I’ve ever played.  The voice work in this game is marvelous and actually one of the hardest things to say goodbye to with the modern games; I think the voice actors they had in the early games were spot on.  I also love that Watson looks like the David Burke version from the Granada television series.  The images are mostly static ones based on finding things around the screen.  Some of these, like a ripped up letter, then form the basis for a puzzle.  Piece it back together, rotate the bits and read the note.  Nothing impossible and not the sort of game that really needs a walkthrough (although one puzzle was particularly annoying and I had to do the dreaded pixel hunt, clicking manically all over the screen until I gave up and looked at a walkthrough.  Weirdly, I had found the target item ages earlier, but it didn’t accept my clicking!  That is a limitation of the pixel-hunts of the earlier games.)  

This game gives you the chance to wander London but at no point does it really give the sensation of travel.  You click on the location and appear there.  In fairness, my favorite place is 221b Baker Street and it has that homey feeling one loves about Sherlock Holmes.  Is it ok to call it Holmes’s Home?   There are a number of locations to explore, and some of the puzzles are fairly simplistic, like those water pipes that you rotate to get water to move from A to B.  There is a rather ingenious cypher and one of those block-moving exercises to get a picture out.  There was another irksome one that has very fine filaments to pick up and it was a little annoying to get right, but that could just be the difference with playing an older game on a new computer.  A safe needs to be cracked and I felt far smarter than I probably was when solving it, but hey, that’s one of the cool things about playing games, isn’t it?  

Perhaps the best part is working in 221b to mix and match some of what you found at Sherlock’s lab bench.  I say “best” but if I’m honest, I’m actually torn on how I feel about that, because a lot of it was just trying things until the right result happened, but this game was one of the earliest of the Holmes games so I am willing to turn a blind eye just to be in the world of Holmes.  Most of the games that came after this were far better but again, sometimes casual gaming is the way to go.  

While I was reviewing this game, I did look it up on Steam to see how it fares.  There are only a handful of reviews for the game and they are, unfortunately, mostly negative.  But here’s the catch: while it retails for about $10, you can get it with a bundle for $9.  On top of that, this isn’t going to take up a lot of time: I took a whopping 5 hours to play it.   But it makes a good tide-me-over, especially if waiting for the next big Sherlock game.  And I actually preferred this to the slightly more popular Silver Earring.  (Although that one was tainted by a friend of mine losing the disc many lifetimes ago…)    

This is not going to break the mold and it’s not going to make anyone’s top 10 list, but I think, if we keep an open mind to it, it is an enjoyable experience.  It’s no Hound of the Baskervilles, in fairness either, but that was a special case where casual gaming hit a new high note.  This is still fun, if perhaps a bit… elementary?  ML

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