Sunday, 20 April 2014

Board game review - Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective

Please welcome to Farsight Blogger guest blogger Richard Williams, a fellow gamer, writer and weird stuff enthusiast.

I bought Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective as a birthday present for my dad, a great fan of all things Holmesian, and it's been a great success. The co-operative nature of the gameplay makes this the perfect game for families/friends who are too competitive (and therefore dare not sit around a monopoly board together) but it also just makes for a nicer evening. While it is possible to play in separate teams my dad, brothers, nephew and I just played as one big team trying to solve the clues and it kept us entertained for several hours per case, each one just right for an evening.

The quality of the game is also superior. Each of the ten cases is contained in its own glossy 'magazine' format booklet and is accompanied by a broadsheet style two-sided newspaper with stories that might relate to the case but which are mostly just contemporary filler. A neat feature of the newspapers is that editions from earlier cases may actually have articles which give clues to later cases so making sure to give each newspaper a thorough read is a must. There is also a map of London with hundreds of houses/locations which are numbered and a directory booklet which lists all the people who can be found at those addresses.
It's really a very well produced game.

Furthermore each case is more than just one case. There is the main case (which gets you the most points for solving) but there are also other mysteries which need solving which can bag you further, those less numerous, points.

One criticism is simply that some of these cases can be just as bafflingly hinged upon a minute detail, which requires the absolutely correct interpretation, as you would expect to find in a Sherlock Holmes story. On the one hand that makes the game more true to it's source material but on the other it can make it damned hard to solve which is, of course, the point of the game. It's also fair to say, I feel, that on at least one of the cases the secondary questions, relating to a triple homicide, but which only scored an additional 10 points each, was really the bigger of the two cases. What I'm saying is that sometimes the conclusions can be slightly frustrating. This does not detract too strongly, however, from the fact that the preceding several hours had been a lot of fun.I shall be looking to see if there is an expansion pack containing more cases for this game and it there isn't then I shall be writing to the makers requesting one.

All in all I think that's about as positive a result as the designers could hope for. In short an ideal game for Holmes fans, team players and lovers of deductive mental exercises.