Cheap Game Tuesday: ‘Sherlock: The Network’
We don’t usually get into iOS and Android games in this series because the once innovated platform for creativity has become a cesspit for knock-offs and endless ‘games’ designed to strain every last cent out of players pockets. We do keep half an eye on the App Store though, because we occasionally catch something worthwhile. While Sherlock: The Network didn’t inspire much confidence in us, being a licensed property, the most reviled of genres, but it was free. And who can say no to that face?
The first thing we noticed was the high production values the game boasted. Dropping the shows opening credit sequence into the app was a nice touch, but we were surprised when a video of Benedict Cumberbatch in his role of Sherlock Holmes introducing us to the game. Later we’d also get video of Martin Freeman and Mark Gatiss in their respective roles of Watson and Mycroft, as well as audio messages from them throughout the story. You are a member of Sherlock’s network of homeless, utilised to collect information and carry out simple investigations for the world’s foremost consulting detective.
From the beginning you have only one or two cases available. You get guided through different locations, each requiring different puzzles to be solved to provide all of the information needed to solve the case. From there it’s up to the player to put the pieces together to solve everything.The puzzles come a variety of familiar styles. Travelling the subway requires Pipe Dream types solutions, Slider puzzles for traffic jams, finding details in an image, deducing pin numbers, unscrambling audio and the like. Finally you get to the ‘Mind Palace’ where you pick out the key words needed to identify the suspect and motive.
There is only a limited number of puzzle types but they are classics, and the difficulty curve is steady enough to keep up the challenge. If you don’t have much patience for these types of games you’re not going to get much out of the experience but if you’re like me you’ll enjoy the brain workout.
Once the initial two cases are solved the game sets up a cliff hanger about Mrs. Hudson being kidnapped (which doesn’t seem to worry the titular anti-hero very much at all) and then hands you a bill to unlock the remaining ten odd cases. This doesn’t bother us much, as it is a once-off and it feels more like we’d played a demo of the full game rather than something that’ll continue to try and nickel and dime us for the rest of the game experience. Getting a taste test before paying a once off for the full amount is certainly a preferred business model than the Dungeon Master/Clash of Clans garbage.
If you like Sherlock, and you like puzzle games at least check out the free case.