Type: Detective / Co-Op

Time to play: < 60 minutes (Teaching: 10 minutes)

Best played with: 1-4 players (Best with 2)

Sherlock Holmes consulting detective is a classic game where players search across London to find clues to what is going on in the world – including a specific mystery that you have been enlisted to solve! Confused? Yes, that’s right, Sherlock is gone and you are in a new world of pain that builds out of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulu universe. You find yourself in Arkham and the challenging mystery you are trying to solve is one that might just destroy the entire universe!

So, that’s the starting point! Thrown into an unfamiliar setting and with an arrogant benefactor (who has already solved the mystery faster than you!); you are asked to solve the puzzle. The concept builds upon the clue chasing Sherlock Holmes game to really challenge the players / team to dig through ancient riddles, crazy characters’ ramblings and off topic disappearances which might help but most probably wont.

Coming to the mechanics though there are two core ways to play this game – the race and the riddle. The race; this is really the focus of solving only the main puzzle but doing it as quickly as possible. The masterful professor has set the challenge but he will have done it in probably half the time he gave you. Can you follow the key path and do it quickly enough not to suffer the penalties at the end for being too slow?

The second options is to answer all the questions; that is to answer the core riddle and to find out everything else that is going on. There will be more questions at the end than the riddle you were set, but if you weren’t seeking these out then you have no chance to score the maximum points. Seek them out, and you will take longer than you should but you will know much more.

Each mission is a new choice and a new conspiracy. From the men hiding in the woods and the ancient writings of the library, there is a lot about Arkham to explore. With all this going on, you have many tools at your disposal – although these are equivalent to many distractions! You can run from house to house chasing individuals to help you. You can visit specialists who might know more about the case than you do. You can also read the newspaper – a newspaper that will often help with what else is going on and a few scarce clues about the main puzzle.

All that in hand, it sounds like you have eight missions of fun to work your way through. However, here’s the biggest problem with this – some of the puzzles are broken. Some of the parts of the rule book are simply incorrect and there are FAQs in place that can help you but this is not a game you can just take out of the box.

Is that all? Well no, I think that this game also suffers from the alpha player disadvantage of co-operative play. If you have a dominant player (perhaps quicker at solving the clues / quicker at realizing the twists and turns ahead) then he or she will push this game and leave other players feeling confused or frustrated.

Redemption for this game is found in groups who enjoy the knocks and set backs of the scrap with cultists. You will get into fights, lose time and get frustrated as likely leads turn in to dead ends. This is great fun at its best – it’s great to see the missions develop and there are few surprising turns along the way. The puzzles are good, the setting is great.

Last notes:

  • If you like to solve riddles and can take a back seat to let other players enjoy this too; then you will enjoy this.
  • If you have an alpha gamer or you are frustrated by reading FAQs then pass this with a wide birth
  • If you win at this game, you have another mission to solve!