What: A game of actual detective work and sleuthing, ready your note books.
Players: 1 – 8+
Time: 30-90 minutes (can easily be played in sessions)
People: Perfect for couples but also for a group of friends and family on a nice day
Available: On Amazon here (If it’s too expensive currently you could also get the stand alone expansion)
Why we recommend it
I have a confession to make: I’m not really ‘in’ to Sherlock Holmes. You may be wondering why, then, I’m writing a recommendation for a game that is literally all about Sherlock.
It’s because this game, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, still captures my imagination, still gives me a little thrill. No one can honestly say they don’t secretly like the idea of being a genius sleuth solving murders left, right and centre. And we all love a bit of mystery. Who did a murder? Will we crack the case?
The game is incredibly satisfying. You’re basically trying to solve a case – usually a murder – by following clues and trying to unravel what actually happened. When you think you’ve cracked it, you go through some questions to see what you got right and, often, what you got wrong. You’re not actually playing as Sherlock, you’re playing against him, as a detective trying to solve the case before him. The more clues you had to reveal, the slower you were (spoiler: I’m shit compared to Sherlock).
This is a game of thinking and mulling over tough decisions. You have to decide where to go and who to question to get information that will help you solve the case. We’ve spent ages (seriously, ages) deliberating on whether we should try and uncover another clue, pouring over the map of London and the directory of places to visit to make sure we make the best possible decision… only to find a complete red herring or a useless answer (‘you knocked on the door. No one is in’!)
Because of this risk – because each clue is potentially a goldmine of information or a wasted ‘trip’ – choosing to investigate a new place or person can feel an almost painful decision.
These painful decisions are balanced out by those delicious ‘aha!’ moments, when a tiny detail suddenly makes things click into place. Where you start riffing off each other, as you pull at a thread and everything seems to unravel, linking up the seemingly disparate bits of information you have into a story that starts to make sense. You’ve done it! Oh, but wait, no – you hit a dead end again, and it’s back to the hunt for clues.
There are some nice touches to this game, like the fact that there are multiple cases in the box so every game is different. We particularly enjoy reading the newspaper that comes with each case for potentially relevant bulletins – most of it is actually irrelevant, but adds colour and context to this world you’ve stepped into. I also recommend some Sherlock-y background music and doing silly voices for characters to really get you into the spirit.
Lastly, Sherlock is the perfect game if you’re not really into game-y things. Things like dice. And cards. And little meeples and figurines and tokens and… you get the idea. There aren’t even TURNS. Imagine that.
You can play it at your own pace, on your own or with your Watson-esque sidekicks. You could spend a whole weekend musing over why Mrs Thumblebottom next door was so shifty or you can sit down and focus for an hour or two investigating clue after clue, frantically writing mostly useless notes that actually contain the key to cracking the case.
Wait…What was that thing about the cigarette again?