TABLETOP REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective – The Thames Murders and Other Cases

Full Disclosure: This review is unpaid and 100% unbiased, and I bought this game with my own hard earned dolla. Also, the version I am reviewing is the updated 2017 ‘The Thames Murders and Other Cases’ version, with more readable text and all that lovely stuff.

 

Oh my! A second review, well isn’t this a real treat. And a review of such a classic game at that. Well, it’s a new version of a classic, but I’ll go ahead and say it’s a classic just right out of the gate here…

No! Don’t stop reading, there is so much MORE to talk about, like how solving a gruesome murder until 1am in the morning with some drunken friends, shivering under blankets in a cabin in the garden can be just what you were looking for in life. Or how that Sunday evening when you both had some wine and decided to go investigating a terrible homocide in London in the 1800s was immeasurably more fun than watching some celebrity dribble on the television. These are the times that I’m talking about.

Now, as per that other review that I did, I’m gunna award thematically relevant  points based on what I did and didn’t like, so  +50 murders most foul for the scenarios depicted above, because y’know, they were quite fun.

Firstly, right off the bat, this game has some  depth to it (+10 murders for depth). And by that I mean like  proper depth (+20 murders for proper depth).

Honestly, the scope of these murders is ridiculous, and you get completely and utterly absorbed in each and every case.  If you havn’t worked it out already, the aim of the game is to figure out murders.

Well actually, scrap that, the aim of the game  isn’t actually to figure out murders as such, as it is to BEAT Sherlock at solving these murders, which really is odd because to beat him you have to follow the lowest amount of leads possible, which really ruins the fun of the game…ACTUALLY exploring all of those cool and amazing leads  (-50 murders for the point of the game actually not being the most fun thing about the game).

The thing is though, that kind of doesn’t matter, and the game is actually WAY good without even worrying about beating Sherlock.

Final Thoughts Up Front

This Game is Good for:

People who love solving murders most foul, OR people who love the theme of Sherlock, OR people who love open ended co-op games that are like, SUPER easy to learn…

OR people who love getting a bit tipsy and solving out a mystery with some friends, OR… well really, anybody who just loves really amazingly, timelessly designed co-op tabletop games. This one is an ABSOLUTE corker  (+20 murders for being a corker).

This Game is not Good for:

If you are looking for something that is very easy to play without paying much attention, or something that is relatively short. The open endedness of the cases included are really such that if you fully explore the depth of each case ( and I would HIGHLY recommend it, you’ll honestly never beat sherlock), you could happily spend up to 2 or  even 3 hours playing. The time absolutely flew though, so no complaints from me.

Things of Note:

One thing that I absolutely love about Sherlock: Consulting Detective is that it takes so little time to learn. Honestly the rules are basically: read the case story, then choose who you want to go and talk to using the map and directory, and then figure out the case already you absolute amateur investigator!  (+30 murders for being RIDICULOUSLY easy to learn). If you are looking for a game to get other people interested and involved in tabletop gaming (especially if they enjoy solving mysteries, or games like Mysterium or even Cluedo to be honest), and they don’t mind playing something longer then this is  absolutely the one to break out. I honestly get goosebumps every time we read a new case, no joke  (+10 murders for goosebumps).

The Bit where I Talk about the Actual Game

Now you know me, I love a well presented and well crafted game, and Sherlock does not disappoint in any way. The map is incredible, the newspapers for each case are not only amazing to look at and read, but also feature sly jokes, and canny little witticisms that poke fun at itself in a way only something this founded in traditional British storytelling can (+10 murders for having a great sense of humour). Each of the case books is immaculately presented, and fully engages you in the story of each case, AND *tada!* is FAR easier to read compared to the old production of this game (+10 murders for being able to read things well).

Mechanics and Gameplay

Now, this is where we get to the proper depth  I was talking about earlier. Because of the open ended nature of this game, this means you get full control over who you speak to, what leads you follow, and where you go on the map to speak to these people.  Not only that, but each case has fun little red herrings thrown in for good measure (+10 murders for red herrings), just to screw with your head when you think you’ve solved a case. It’s like when that bully at school would ask you what you’d got down your shirt and then when you looked, proceeded to flick you in the nose, and then laugh and walk away, leaving you there to ponder your very existence and question your choices in life that had led up to that point.

Sherlock doesn’t do this unnecessarily so though, every single nugget of storytelling goodness is compelling and fits perfectly within each case, leading to the exploration of myriad webs of lies, deciept, but also truthful alibis, and shifty and trustworthy characters.

Some Other Things

Now, once you actually get to the point of being able to solve the murder (or you think you do), then there are several questions to answer on the back of each case book, and a solution for you to read from big boss man Sherlock himself (significantly I think ‘Big Boss Man Sherlock’ would have been a way better name for the game (-5 murders for title)). Thing is, often you get to the questions, and when you read them the first thought that crosses your mind is; ‘WHAT? wait a minute, I’ve never even heard that guys name before…’ Which invariably leads to more self analysis of your already entirely planned out murder explanation, and somehow managing to stumble across a lead you totally missed.

That or, in one particular case, stumbling across someone absolutely not relevant to anything at all (+5 murders for a secret cross-dresser… no spoilers, promise!).

It’s all part of the fun though really, and that’s what makes this game SO great. You genuinely feel like part of the Baker Street Irregulars, super sleuthing your way around 1800s London, solving a case that Sherlock clearly just doesn’t have the time or inclination to investigate himself.

Verdict

That’s it, review over guys! Don’t leave yet though because the best bit is just about to happen! Sherlock himself to explain to you just how he came to the conclusion and finally solved the Mystery of the Consulting Detective Review…

Sherlock: Why thank you kind Sir, your introduction is most appreciated and welcome in this time of great need and peril, being the grubby 1870s as it is! We have today a curious case on our hand and it gets even curiouser so by note of the fact that the person reviewing has indeed started channeling some sort of… ‘character voice’.

Watson: *gasp* You don’t say Sherlock, as if someone would actually impersonate a fictitious character for the sake of a few laughs! And in the light of this many murders most foul!

Chris: Seriously Watson, I didn’t ask for your input here… nobody cares what you have to gasp about.

Sherlock: Indeed Christopher, for the solving of this crime requires only the skills of an advanced and studious detective such as myself.

Chris: So, what is the solution? Who commited the murder? And how many murders have even been commited!?

Sherlock: Well my dear Christopher, you’ll be surprised to find that I simply traced the game back to the 1980s! There, in it’s infancy, it grew and developed, and lo and beyond when we got to the year 2017 a new and fresh publisher was there to pick up the pieces! The newly published version was wonderful and many people loved it, however, we still have the question of the murders most foul to answer… the simple fact is, the murders, were commited, by me! Well, metaphorically speaking, I’ve murdered your ability to play any other murder mystery game, and that amounts to a grand total of…

Score: 120 Murders Most Foul

Just buy this game, trust me.

Yours murderously,

Chris