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Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets

Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets review – Arachnophobes beware

Unemployed, Jack Holmes decides it’s perhaps time to join the family business which he’s distanced himself from for years. But, choosing to investigate a mysterious house where there’s whisper of living puppets, he may soon come to regret his choice. And so begins Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets, a rough-around-the-edges first-person survival horror that’s genuinely creepy at times.

If you require all games you play to be AAA epics, it’s safe to say that Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets won’t be for you. But while some of the game’s shortcomings are obvious within minutes of play, such as the odd dud texture and the utterly terrible voice acting, that fact that this is the work of a solo indie developer is actually quite impressive.

Your journey as Jack Holmes will take you through a variety of locations, including a creepy house, some spider-infested mines and even an amusement park, complete with rides to have fun with — providing you can find tickets. And like in survival horror classics such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill, there are a wealth of items to find, puzzles to solves, and enemies to dispatch along the way.

Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets screenshot
Screenshot: GameSpew

The biggest barrier to enjoying Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets, however, is the game’s combat, which is miserably basic. You generally have a pistol and a shotgun to defend yourself with, both capable of putting down most foes that stand in your path. Aiming down the sight can feel awkward though, meaning it’s often better to just shoot from the hip. And many enemies simply rush you, unleashing attack after attack when up close. Fail to pump enough bullets into them in time and your health bar can be disintegrated in seconds.

Related: The best, and scariest, horror games on PS5

Needless to say, there are many frustrating moments in Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets, where an enemy unexpectedly emerges from the darkness and kills you before you even have the time to respond. To give you more of a fighting chance, you might want to turn the brightness up on your TV a few notches — there’s unfortunately no brightness setting within the game.

Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets screenshot
Screenshot: GameSpew

Still, if you can look past the frustrating tit-for-tat combat, as bad as it is, chances are you’ll find elements of Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets that genuinely impress. It really is atmospheric and scary at times, for example, which is all you can ask of a horror game. Some of the puzzles are really enjoyable to solve as well. And when you reach the amusement park, there’s some genuine creativity on display, with multiple funhouses that you need to make your way through, each offering a unique experience.

Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets isn’t a game for everyone, then. Thanks to its unpolished nature and how easy death can come, some will bail on it on the early hours. For horror fans with patience and persistence, however, their time will ultimately be rewarded. Its voice acting is bad, its combat is dire, and its story is neither here nor there, but there’s a certain undeniable charm that makes Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets worth it in the end.

This review of Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets is based on the PS5 version, with a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available on PS5 and PC.

Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets review - GameSpew's score

Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets
6 10 0 1
Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets is a first-person horror game with some great ideas and genuine scares. It's just a shame that its voice acting is bad and its combat is frustrating. Regardless, thanks to its charm, horror fans should still probably pay it some attention.
Jack Holmes: Master of Puppets is a first-person horror game with some great ideas and genuine scares. It's just a shame that its voice acting is bad and its combat is frustrating. Regardless, thanks to its charm, horror fans should still probably pay it some attention.
6/10
Total Score

We like...

  • Genuinely creepy at times
  • Amusement park area is neat
  • Some clever ideas

We don't like...

  • Voice acting is awful
  • Combat is bad
  • A bit rough around the edges

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