“Sherlock” is a 1984 text adventure developed by Philip Mitchell and Beam Software. It was published by Melbourne House.

The game is based on the famous Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books featuring the super sleuth Sherlock Holmes, fiction’s most famous detective. You take the role of Holmes, assisted by Dr. Watson. The story is set in the dimly gaslit, foggy streets of Victorian London. The plot has intrigue, suspense and danger, but much of the early game is about shrewd observation, analysis and deduction, as you quiz the suspects at the scenes of the murders. Your objective is to solve a number of different crimes and to avoid getting yourself killed.

A subset of English, Inglish, first seen in “The Hobbit”, is used in this game to communicate with the program, which uses a large vocabulary of 800 words. Each sentence must have a verb and there are a few simple, and mostly obvious, rules governing the use of adverbs and adjectives. Several actions or sentences can be linked in a manner which allows many different permutations.

ANIMTALK is another strong feature of this game, which allows you, Sherlock Holmes, to instruct the other characters on what you would like them to do; but each character remains independent and can refuse to cooperate. Where this form of conversation proves most useful is when discussing the case with Watson and Lestrade, an Inspector from Scotland Yard. You can pick their brains generally, or you can direct their thoughts to a particular item or incident. Like “The Hobbit”, conversations are structured around the general format: SAY TO WATSON “TELL ME ABOUT (THE PISTOL)”. Common modifiers are “TELL ME ABOUT YOUR ALIBI” and “TELL ME ABOUT YOUR ADDRESS”.

(Text from the Manual and http://www.crashonline.org.uk/09/sherlok.htm)

Version Information

The game was released on the Commodore 64 and on the ZX Spectrum.

A play in the browser version of Sherlock for the ZX Spectrum is available on the Internet Archive – ZX Spectrum Library: Games

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