Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective is not so much a board game, but more of an immersive mystery ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ experience. Armed with a map, a directory of names, some newspapers and a casebook, you visit Sherlock Holmes and he introduces you to his latest mystery – cases range from a terrible murder, some missing jewels, and even a mummy’s curse.
From here, based on the initial information given to you, you then choose various people or locations to visit to gather more clues. To do this, you state where you are going, find them in the directory of names, then look up the information using the casebook. If you are on the right track, you will end up with some juicy leads.
Further clues may be found by using the map and by looking at the newspaper articles (often the articles are actually the best place to start as you end up finding something to wet your sleuthing-appetite!).
If you are at a loose end, or do not know where to go next, you can pop along to Scotland Yard to get some advice from Sherlock himself. The game also gives you some other suggested, potentially useful, people to visit, including Langdale Pike, the local society gossip columnist, and even Porky Shinwell, a former criminal, who acts as an informant to Sherlock Holmes.
Beware, however, as there are multiple avenues to take, a number of red herrings, and, most importantly to note, people you meet can lie! Head down the wrong track, and you could ignore a vital clue, end up visiting someone wondering why on Earth you are bothering them, or worse, they won’t even be in. I learnt this the hard way during the first case, taking everything that had been said as truth, and ending up in a right pickle when we had to provide the solution.
When you are ready to solve the case, you submit your solution by answering questions, with each correct answer adding points to your final score. To top things off (and this is what makes the game ridiculously hard) you are trying to beat Sherlock Holmes, who is also investigating the case. At the end of the game you find out how many moves he has taken to solve it, and if you have taken more moves than him this will affect your final score. I find this part of the game particularly difficult, and in my opinion makes the game less enjoyable, as it forces you to cut corners, or ignore leads, to try and beat him. Personally, I prefer to forgo this element, and play until I feel I have enough information to solve a case, enjoying immersing myself in the story.
This game can be played solo or with a group. I have often played this with family members, as it is an easy game to pick up and play when they come to visit. But don’t be fooled with the easy set-up, it is a challenge and a half! Many times, my family and I thought we had cracked it, then found out that we were nowhere near the solution. None of the cases are straightforward – in fact, sometimes the solutions are so out of this world, in hindsight they seem impossible to solve. Whilst this often frustrates some of my family members, it does not take away the game’s enjoyment from me.
As Sherlock Holmes once said,
Embrace the challenge and you will have some case-cracking fun!