If you canvassed a bunch of people about why they like Frogwares' Sherlock Holmes games, it's probably not unreasonable to suggest combat wouldn't feature too prominently on any resulting list. In the run-up to Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One's November release, however, Frogwares is trying to change some minds with a fresh look at the series' revamped fisticuffs.
Frogwares says Chapter One's new combat system is built "to suit the character of Sherlock", meaning that while melee attacks and firearms are both present and extensively utilised throughout fight sequences, players won't be able to take much of a beating.
Instead, they'll need to even the odds through agile evasion and by making smart use of cover. Further advantages can be gained by identifying enemy weak points and exploiting environmental hazards - both highlighted while in Concentration Mode - and through the use of tools, such as Sherlock's enemy dazing snuff box.
To arrest opponents, players first need to stun them, and while it's possible to bring combat to a deadly conclusion if things spiral out of control, Frogwares notes that non-lethal takedowns are both canon and often preferred - given that extreme force won't impress Sherlock's new companion Jon. Much like the moral choices made throughout investigations, the developer says, "How you approach combat will ultimately influence your relationship with Jon."
Players preferring to focus on Sherlock's cerebral side will have the option to tweak combat difficulty - adjusting elements including damage and enemy stun duration - and can even disable it entirely. "The outcomes of how you complete combat encounters have small influences on your game," Frogwares notes, "but not to the extent that by turning it off you lose out on extensive content or it hinders your progress."
Should you find yourself hankering for "significantly harder" combat encounters, however, you'll want to visit bandit lairs strewn around the map. Each one brings its own unique twists to battles - giving players reduced health or removing environmental hazards, for instance - but beating them efficiently (and by completing specific challenges along the way) awards more cash to spend on outfits and renovations back at Sherlock's mansion. Check out the new combat trailer to see all the above in action.
Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One comes to Xbox Series X/S, PS5, and PC on 16th November, with the previously announced PS4 and Xbox One editions now due to arrive at a slightly later date.