Sherlock Holmes: An Online Adventure – The Case of the Hung Parliament is a digital theatrical game, designed for digital play, created by Les Enfants Terribles in London, England.
Style of Play: digital theatrical game, designed for digital play, combining point-and-click adventure game, audio-visual experience, and Zoom
Required Equipment: computer with internet connection
Multiple screens were helpful during this experience. We also recommend the use of google drive to coordinate intelligence among team members.
Recommended Team Size: 4-6
Play Time: 80 minutes
Price: £15 per person / £90 for a private group of up 6 people
Booking: book online for a specific time slot
We were hosted live by Watson over Zoom, then let loose in a series 360-degree photos of crime scenes. We had to discover clues, interpret their meaning, and determine the suspect, their methods, and their motivations. This was not an escape game. Also, web searching and outside knowledge are encouraged.
Hivemind Review Scale
Cara Mandel’s Reaction
Les Enfants Terribles has created a well-produced point-and-click experience with some live and pre-recorded actor interactions. The self-navigable interface is filled with clickable clues to investigate and provides a simulated feeling of searching a space to unravel a mystery. I’m a fan of Sherlock Holmes-themed experiences, though admittedly, the proliferation of Sherlock-themed remote escape games this year has caused a bit of fatigue. However, this experience wasn’t actually an escape game. Though we had an objective of solving the case, we found ourselves struggling to identify exactly what we were meant to be doing with the information we had accumulated along the way. We had a live in-game host in the form of Dr. Watson, though I’m not sure that role was even necessary to the experience, other than to gate the information delivery and provide some enjoyable character interaction. And still we found ourselves with an unintentional sequence break when we stumbled upon a website too early in the game after being instructed to Google a phrase. Even though we technically succeeded in solving the case, the ending left us a bit perplexed. The quality of the video was excellent. The actors were great. Overall it was a solid production, but I can’t say it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience for me from an audience engagement standpoint. This experience may not be for everyone, but as an entry point into remote immersive experiences or point-and-click adventures, it’s a worthwhile option.
Richard Burns’ Reaction
This is a game which when described on paper sounds very interesting yet fell just a bit flat during the actual playthrough. It is important to view this game as a story-based interactive theater piece with some web-based point-and-click exploring. This is not an escape room.
Our in-character live host’s performance was well done – charming and with an accent I could listen to all day long. The recorded video segments were well acted and produced.
The experience is split up into several distinct sections and plays out in traditional Sherlock Holmes fashion, where we visit different locations and seemingly unconnected bits of information are collected until the show’s final minutes where it all comes together.
There is a risk that some parts of the gameplay feel somewhat unfair. Some of our discoveries or lack thereof seemed to be determined by luck. During one split-team section of the game, we unknowingly devoted most of our people power to the wrong task and even after realizing it, we were unable to send additional help to our overwhelmed teammates.
Our group of 6 puzzly players was able to succeed at getting almost all of the correct story bits to present our case at the end of the game, and we were rewarded with a satisfying video and endgame sequence. This – the anticipation and gratification of being correct – was the most exciting part of the experience; the earlier evidence gathering portions were a bit of a slog.
I have read that teams who failed to present the correct case experienced an endgame fail state that limited their overall enjoyment of the experience. Your mileage may vary
Theresa W’s Reaction
The Case of the Hung Parliament was a really well-produced performance, yet when it came to gameplay, it was incredibly underwhelming. I really enjoyed the pre-recorded footage that played during the game. The acting was top-notch and really on theme. The gameplay included looking around 3D spaces, interacting with characters through choose-your-own-adventure style videos/ prompts, and deducing what had happened. I loved the concept of the game, but the story just felt hollow and I didn’t have a lot of fun. For people who are more interested in an immersive show with high video production value, this may be up your alley.
Kate Wastl’s Reaction
The Case of the Hung Parliament is a completely enjoyable performance that ties together a robust set of multifaceted interactions, explorable spaces, and personalities. Our host, Dr. Watson, was refreshingly funny and steadfastly in character for the entirety of the plot; other pop-in appearances were well produced and on point for the theme. After a slower start, the rest of the time sped by, with a well-paced series of clues and interactions leading you towards the finale. Go into this experience preferably with multiple screens available to use and the understanding that this is an 80-minute murder mystery (not strictly an escape room).
David Spira’s Reaction
Les Enfants Terribles’ digital interpretation of Sherlock Holmes was an interesting beast… and days later I cannot tell you whether I liked or disliked it. I think the answer is both. What I can tell you is that it’s one of the more interesting games that I’ve played in my year of isolation, and that alone makes me happy that I experienced it.
Out of the gate, Les Enfants Terribles made the unusual decision to blur the line between whether this was set in the present day or the Victorian era. It was both odd, confusing, and amusing to have a Zoom conversation with a Watson who both acknowledged the existence and utility of our modern tech, while also pleading ignorance to it entirely.
Beyond that, this was a Holmesian mystery, not a puzzle game. There were clues to find, and deductions to make, but none of it was as cleanly packaged and presented as they are in escape games. I didn’t mind this, and in the end, found the mystery very solvable. That said, everything only fit together elegantly looking backwards after everything had surfaced (which is very Holmes). While we were in the midst of playing, the clues felt hazy. I felt like I wasn’t finding and interpreting enough, and I felt a lot of (entirely unnecessary) anxiety about interviewing a suspect. None of it needed to be quite so stressful. And again, looking back, it’s kind of amusing that I was nervous at all.
I also lost most of a game segment because of a stupid case-sensitivity issue… and that was inexcusable. I hope that Les Enfants Terribles fixes that.
Overall, this was an interesting interpretation of Holmes that applied accessible technology in a remarkably streamlined manner. The game was clever and reverent with its source material. If a proper mystery or an innovative approach to digital play entices, check it out. I cannot promise that you’ll love it, but I think it will make you think and feel… and those are the things that I am looking for these days.
Note, this show’s run has concluded.