Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets Review

As a self-appointed horror game and film aficionado, I jumped at the opportunity to try out a first-person indie title in the horror space just to get my fix. What I found was something somewhat perplexing: Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets.

As with any indie game, you have to adjust your expectations in terms of graphical fidelity, gameplay and other nuisances that AAA or even AA games can produce, but with that in mind, I was still left feeling that while this game has its positives (not many, but there were some), it is prevented from reaching anything more than below average with its bugs, weak voice acting and just painful gameplay.

While Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets is a commendable effort for the one-man band development team, it should probably have stayed an indie title on Steam rather than a £25 purchase on PS5.

 

Story

You play the titular Jack Holmes (no relation to the famous detective), who is an unemployed layabout who doesn’t seem to have much going on. Jack has finally decided, though, to join the family business as a private investigator, and his first case is to look into the disappearance of a man named Frederick R. (obviously going for the “not sure what last name to give here, so just chuck a letter and a dot approach”). So, you head off to this creepy house to investigate, and what do you find in the stereotypically creepy basement? Creepy puppets.

Throughout the story, you will explore a variety of locations, including a creepy house, some spider-infested mines and an amusement park.

The game has some genuine scares, and it builds the horror atmosphere well despite the obvious graphical limitations. The story is about three hours long, so if you’re determined enough, you can easily complete this game in one evening.

 

Graphics and Gameplay

This is the area of the game where I found the most issues. As previously mentioned, the game was built by the one-man dev team at TonyDevGame, and you can see the limitations that come with such a small team developing a game.

On the positive, the environments are relatively creepy, considering the weak graphics. The lighting in each location really works well to build up the scares, and the game does have some genuinely creepy moments.

Okay, that is probably where the positives end. I mean, the textures are pretty dreadful, and the character models are very basic.

I knew I was in for a bad time when, in the opening gambit in Jack’s apartment, there was a basketball hoop on a door. You can’t physically throw the basketball into it, and you will then notice when trying to place it into the hoop that the ball is bigger than the hoop itself.

In terms of gameplay, you start off by having a shower, with the water coming from the showerhead looking iffy at best. Once you start the gunplay, it is very janky, and the camera, like in most survival horror games, seems to be an additional enemy that you could do without.

While I understand that reducing movement speed can help you think more about your next move, it is so painfully slow here that I think I could hobble with a broken leg faster, even when Jack is supposedly sprinting.

The puzzles are relatively decent, which is probably the best part of the gameplay.

Aside from the gameplay and graphics, the voice acting is this game’s biggest offender, with Jack sounding like some form of Australian surfer dude, and his line delivery is original Resident Evil-esque and was cringy from the first line to the last.

Now, we move on to the glitches and weird bugs that are really immersion-breaking.

The first one I encountered happened when I paused the game to make a quick drink. Upon returning and hitting “Resume”, the pause menu remained on the screen until I shut the application down on the PS5 and restarted the game.

There was an awful lot of texture pop-in throughout the game, and sometimes the sound cut out or was extremely delayed. There was also a lot of lag between using the right stick to what was happening on the screen.

 

Conclusion

I am trying not to be too harsh on this game given that it was made by just one man, but at £25 to buy for the PS5, I cannot recommend you play this one. The story is relatively okay, and the atmosphere is top notch for a horror game, but the gameplay and glitches are just so bad at the moment that it almost makes it a more painful three-hour experience than sitting through the movie Babylon.

If you do intend on picking this up, maybe do so on Steam at a bargain bin price and keep the sound off to avoid the audio issues and possibly some of the worst voice acting I have ever heard.

Developer: TonyDevGame

Publisher: Perp Games

Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox Series X/S

Release Date: 10th August 2023 (PC), 12th April 2024 (consoles)

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