Elementary Gaming

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Today we thought we would show you a slightly different side of us. You might have already noticed – or not – but we are huge fans of boardgames. We have a decent collection and we enjoy particularly games with a story. However, these are not always great design-wise. We thought every now and then we might show you some of the games we find interesting in this aspect and share our love for the material side of gaming.

Because the weather makes us think of all things foggy and gloomy we are starting with Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. This is a pretty unusual game in that it’s a set of ten puzzles to solve and once you’ve solved them, you’re more or less done. However, we really love Sherlock Holmes and we don’t have all that much time for gaming (truth be told, we’ve finished two cases so far and we’ve had this game for a few years) so we bought the game despite its limited replayability.

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The box (which is only average, compared to some other elements) contains ten booklets with case studies, a map of London and two cool ideas: ten copies of The Times and a directory of various London addresses. Even though we’re not absolutely delighted with everything about the design of the game, particularly with some typographic choices, overall we find it climactic and entertaining.

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Each case is described in its own booklet, loosely stylized to an old look through stamps, ornaments and old paper texture. We’re generally not huge fans of this style (though we do like the wallpaper at the beginning) but we get why game designers do this. In fact, it’s not easy to come up with a reasonable alternative for a game like this one.

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You use the map of London in order to decide where to go next. The map has Scary Holmes (I’m assuming it’s not Jack the Ripper, much as he looks it) in the corner.

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(It also has negative kerning in the street names and I’m not sure about the sans serif but I like the gloomy colors offset by pink.)

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But it’s the other two elements that make the game so exciting and immersive. The directory list all the people that appear in the cases and many practical places like restaurants and tobacco makers and it’s your decision who’s relevant to the case and who you’ll visit. It also has very cool initials.

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And finally our favorite element: The Times for each day a case is being solved, with information about various relevant and irrelevant events. As if that wasn’t cool enough, the information from the newspapers adds up so that you might need a side note from day one to solve case number four. That’s pretty awesome – and slightly overwhelming.

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The newspaper is also hands down the best-designed piece of the game (and one of the best of all the games that we own). It’s also printed on paper that’s nice to handle.

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If this post made you want to play the game, you’ll be absolutely right to do so, by the way.

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