Secret of the Silver Earring had me in two minds from start to finish. While some elements are handled nicely, others are lacking in quality. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the theme, game play, or any one thing in particular. The puzzles and the storyline are enjoyable, but I felt the little something extra that really makes an adventure game great was missing.
Whilst the graphics were fantastic, the story was not as intriguing as it could have been. The game requires minimal pixel hunting, just one particular item that proved difficult to find. The dialogue was very drawn out and you have to click on every sentence that has to be verbalized. Although this may be a minor issue, it did slow the flow down a bit too much for my liking.
Secret of the Silver Earring is set in 1897. The main part of this game takes place in the "fabulous Sherringford hall", in which resides the construction tycoon Sir Melvyn Bromsby. Sherlock Holmes goes to the Sherringford hall as a guest at Sir Bromsby’s party. The detective knows that Bromsby is planning to make an important announcement on the night of the party. But alas, the tycoon is shot in the heart in front of his guests. It is up to you to find the killer and uncover the truth.
You mix and analyze your clues in the lab at Baker Street, talk to as many people as you come across, utilize the tape measure and magnifying glass that you start with in your inventory and wander the scenes in your quest to find the truth. The puzzles are nothing new for the adventure point and click genre. For example, you have to find several pieces for one puzzle and put them all together, and use the correct tool/item for the job etc. There is nothing too taxing on the old grey cells.
There are a few cut scenes that run mid-game. While they provide an odd hint now and then, these cut scenes do not assist in pepping up the game at all. You do get the opportunity to play as both Sherlock Holmes and as Dr Watson, which makes an interesting twist. There are also plenty of locations to see and discover.
The Secret of the Silver Earring is as fast or as slow paced as you want to make it. The game can easily be played in short bursts. The inventory and the notes will quickly remind of important items and who has said what thus far. You could also sit and play the game in a single session until you are done. Obviously this is down to the individual, but some games make it very difficult to just hop on and off as you please.
At the end of each section of the game, you have to correctly answer a multiple choice quiz regarding the case, which I found to help clarify a few things for me. The quiz gives you a tally of the info you have gathered throughout that day.
The game is developed by Frogwares and includes original orchestral music from Paganini and Tchaikovsky. For those who enjoy a good murder mystery, Secret of the Silver Earring is a good game to pass the time, but not one that engrosses you. So whilst not quite bargain bin material, it is not at the top of my list for memorable game play either. Much thought has gone into the game by a "true Sherlock fan", yet still I feel there is something missing. So in summary, Secret of the Silver Earring is a good game, with great graphics, good ideas and puzzles, but it just lacks that special spark! Borrow it from a friend, trade it online, but don’t spend your last pennies on it.