The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes is the latest release from Legacy Interactive, the developer probably best known for its games based on television shows, including “The Apprentice,” “Law & Order,” and “ER.” However, unlike those other games, The Lost Cases is a casual game, and it’s sort of like a greatest hits ensemble of casual game activities -- with hidden objects, Simple Simon sequences, rotating tiles, and more -- pretty much everything a casual gamer could want, except for match-three puzzles. Even better, the conglomeration of puzzles works pretty well together, creating a pleasing and entertaining whole.
The Lost Cases includes 16 cases for Sherlock Holmes to solve. These cases range from finding missing objects to deciphering a complicated will to investigating a mummy’s curse to, of course, solving some murders. There’s even a case where you have to foil a plot from Professor Moriarty. The cases are well presented and well acted, and they do a good job of incorporating the games and puzzles into the investigation. For example, the items you find during a hidden objects sequence might link some suspects to the scene of the crime, giving you a list of people to look into.
Each case always has at least four parts: a hidden objects part, a find-the-difference part, a suspect categorization part (where you have to arrange the suspects in the right squares in a grid), and a Concentration-style part (where you have to remember which clues relate to which suspect). During these parts, you also sometimes encounter smaller puzzles. For example, you might find a locked box during the find-the-difference part of the case, and then you’d have to figure out how to turn some dials to get the box to open. Other minor puzzles include arranging ropes the right way in a basket, deciphering an encoded message, and figuring out where the names go in a family tree.
The Lost Cases is pretty friendly to play, even as casual games go. The cases are timed, but you’re given way more time than you’re likely to need. Objects are “hidden,” but it’s more because they’re sitting in a room with lots of other objects than because they’re incorporated into the scenery (like in the Mystery Case Files games), and so they’re usually not too tough to spot. There are also hints and opt-outs available. Each time you spot a smoking pipe during a case, you’re given a hint, and you can use the hint to reveal a step in the current part of the case (such as where an object is during the hidden objects part). And the minor puzzles have opt-out buttons, so if you can’t figure out a puzzle, you can just skip it and take a time penalty.
Finally, somewhere in each case you can find a deerstalker cap. If you locate all 16, then you unlock a Mastermind-style game that involves mixing ingredients in a beaker. This Mastermind game doesn’t really add anything to the campaign (it doesn’t have anything to do with the cases you solve), but any extra feature is nice, and perhaps some players will like it more than I did.
I haven’t played a lot of casual games -- maybe a dozen total now -- but The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes currently ranks as my second favorite (behind Puzzle Quest). The game is well made and well presented, there are actual voice actors who do a fine job with their lines, and the developer did a nice job incorporating the variety of puzzles into the cases you investigate. So if you enjoy casual games and Sherlock Holmes, The Lost Cases is a game to check out.