Sherlock in Your Homes [Hivemind Review]

Sherlock in Your Homes is a murder mystery puzzle game created by Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt in California.

Format

Style of Play: light puzzle hunt

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, recommended also to have a printer, pen and paper, and scissors

We were instructed to print a long PDF in full color, but only 2 pages actually needed to be printed for this puzzle, so we played most of the game digitally. That one puzzle did require color printing.

Recommended Team Size: 1-4

Play Time: The website says about 3-4 hours, but experienced solvers will play much more quickly.

Price: $25 per team

Booking: purchase online and play at your leisure

Description

A woman named Nicole has been murdered and you’re going to figure out who did it, in which room of her house, with which weapon. Before starting play, you’re instructed to read a 5-page dossier of murder suspect descriptions. The setup mimics the classic deduction game Clue.

This was a web-based, puzzle-hunt-style murder mystery game with some printed components. Expect to use Wikipedia.

Hivemind Review Scale

REA's hivemind review scale - 3 is recommended anytime, 2 recommended in quarantine, 1 is not recommended.

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Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

I love the pun “Sherlock in Your Homes,” but that’s just about the only thing I enjoyed about this game. The content ranged from uninspired to viscerally offensive, and I would not recommend it to any audience.

The puzzles were around or just below Puzzled Pint difficulty, but they were full of boring and repetitive processes and devoid of any satisfying aha moments. At $25 per team, this actually felt overpriced, as there are so many better designed puzzles targeted at beginner puzzlers readily available for free online.

While there was minimal story throughout the puzzling, the game ended with a wall of text retroactively providing context for everything that had come before. This text absolutely needs, at the very least, explicit content and trigger warnings for sexual assault, mental illness, and violence. Given the problematic ways in which these themes were casually and gratuitously presented, I would advise heavily editing or removing this text altogether.

Cara Mandel’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Sherlock in Your Homes is a cross between a standard puzzle hunt format and a Clue-like murder mystery deduction game. Through a series of puzzle sets, players may deduce who the culprit is by eliminating suspects from a list one by one. Though the premise of the game is fairly straightforward, the storyline was a bit lacking throughout gameplay, with the final solution acting as more of a story description to fill in the plot holes rather than a simple confirmation of answers. Fans of darker murder mystery stories or crime procedurals might enjoy this though I’d be remiss in not mentioning this game deals with fairly mature subject matter and sexual violence themes.

Michelle Calabro’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

Sherlock in Your Homes did not effectively integrate the narrative with the structure and the puzzles. While exploring the rooms, players are provided very little (or zero) narrative context for the puzzles contained within them. You solve the puzzles in a room to eliminate a suspect.

This structure leads to treating the murder suspects merely as variables instead of human beings. Understanding the characters as people does not improve a player’s ability to advance in the game. After the game is complete, players can decide whether they want to read a lengthy description of the murder. The story forgoes criminological psychology (and therefore all the joy of exploring it) and instead relies on flippant, unnuanced use of themes like psychopathy, statutory rape, marital cheating, domestic abuse, drug dealing, murder, and molestation. Unlike detective work, solving each puzzle did not lead to us piecing together this story, which leaves me wondering, “Who (within the game world) wrote the story? If they could write it without solving the puzzles, then why did players need to do the detective work?”

The title of the game Sherlock in Your Homes, while cheeky, is a misnomer. There is no thematic or experiential connection between Mr. Holmes and this game, only that Sherlock was a detective and this game markets itself as a detective game.

What I love about detective stories is that you are curiously and empathically examining the mental and emotional state of a criminal, and while learning about their motive you are gaining a more sophisticated understanding of human nature. Unfortunately, the actions players take in this game have very little to do with that. It seems there’s a disconnect between the game’s genre, its structure, and its mechanics.

Theresa W’s Reaction

Rating: 1 out of 3.

Sherlock in your Homes was an attempt at paper-based puzzles played entirely through photos and PDFs. Some of the puzzles were creative and had a fun starting point, but were repetitive and outstayed their welcome. The story did not carry throughout the experience, and was dumped on the players at the very end. While the puzzles were fine for the under-18 crowd to solve, the ending was in poor taste and definitely not recommended for anyone under 18. The hint system worked well by uncovering more information as needed. The puzzles all made sense, and our team was able to solve them all without any issues.

Disclosure: Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.

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