Players: 1 to 8
Game Length: 2 hours per case
Best enjoyed: With 2-3 avid readers who want to solve a puzzle together
Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is difficult to categorise as a game, per se. It’s more of an interactive novel, where you’ll be trying to solve mysteries by carefully reading pages and pages of descriptive text. In each of the game’s ten cases, you’ll be given the outline of a case – a few clues, some names, a location or two to investigate – and then left to investigate the city of London to try to piece together what actually happened.
The game is comprised of ten casebooks, broadsheet newspapers published on the day of each case and a map of 19th century London, on which is marked a range of locations corresponding to entries in the various casebooks. You’ll also get a directory of London, which will be essential for looking up individuals or businesses that pertain to the current case. As you start making visits, you’ll begin to unravel the thread of each case, finding out more about the motivations of the various people involved and gaining new leads.
The attention to detail paid to the writing in Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is impressive. In each casebook are many hundreds of entries, full of descriptive prose, red herrings and hidden information, and it is truly evocative of London as it is described in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. It’ll be up to you to piece together what is truly important, and when you think you’ve found out everything important you can turn to the back of the case book and compare yourself to Sherlock Holmes himself, who’ll describe his reasoning in detail.
You can give yourself a score using the game’s scoring system if you really want to, but don’t go through the game trying to beat Sherlock, as he takes a minimalist approach, only visiting the locations that are absolutely essential. You’ll enjoy the game much more if you allow yourself to get lost in the narrative.
What you get out of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective really depends on what you put into it. If the idea of trying to solve a crime by carefully reading parts of a story interests you, then this game will likely be up your alley. If, on the other hand, you’re not terribly interested in fiction or puzzles, then you’ll likely want to give Sherlock Holmes a miss.
If you want to make the most of this game, treat a case like an event. Set at least two hours aside, make sure to have a notepad, some snacks and a beverage or two (alcoholic, caffeinated or whatever else suits your fancy) and no more than three players. In fact, it works excellently as a couple’s game – solving the mysteries is all the more fun with someone you’re close to.
Unfortunately, you can’t really play each case more than once, and you’ll want to keep playing with the same group (or individual) if possible, as with each case you’ll have access to the newspapers from all the previous cases. However, there are many hours of compelling case-solving to be had in Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, and it is a truly unique game well worth experiencing.