Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Strategy and tips for beginners
The challenging combination of deduction and text-based worldbuilding make Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective unique. So much so, that it can be difficult to play it well! In this guide, I’ll explain how to get the most out of the game, starting with your first play.
Sherlock Holmes CD requires extensive note-taking. It is not possible to keep all the details of a case in your head. You need to write down all the people involved, their names, their details, their age and possible connections to the crime.
I wouldn’t have solved a single case without notes. Many important clues are not apparent at first glance. After all, will you remember the cigarette brand smoked by the victim’s uncle two hours into the game? What about the age of every single person who bought flowers on Monday 23rd?
You can go back and check out paragraphs you’ve already read, but it’s unlikely you’ll remember where to look. You may end up walking around, not knowing what to do because you didn’t notice a clue on your first read. Taking notes ensures all details are easily checked again, making your investigation easier.
READ THE NEWS
The newspaper is an invaluable source of clues. Through it, you’ll be able to discover new locations, people to speak to and other crucial information. When I play, one person takes the role of reader and pores over its pages in search of leads.
If you see a name, or a place you would like to visit note it down. You can cross-reference it with the London Guide to find new paragraphs. For example, you can search for “Lestrade” and find him at 60 CE. Check out the business listings at the end of the guide as well.
Keep in mind its limitations, though. If someone is not from London, they won’t show up in the guide. You might be able to find them their workplace, family or other connections. Think laterally, the game is highly detailed and allows you to tie leads together.
It’s extremely important to remember that the newspapers from previous cases are still available. It is impossible to solve some cases if you don’t go back to older issues. This is noted in the manual, but tends to be forgotten. If you don’t want your experience to be ruined, remember to read everything.
THE HOLMESIAN APPROACH
The game recreates, not just the setting of the original novels, but also their spirit. It expects its players to approach cases like the title character would. Immersing yourself into the methods and the Victorian world of Sherlock Holmes will be necessary to solve the mysteries.
Don’t interrogate every suspect. Sloppy, aimless detective work isn’t likely to produce results. When faced with long lists of evidence, pare them down first. Ask yourself if an exhaustive search is really the best course of action. Most of the time, what you are looking for can be deduced from the information you already have. Remember, too, that each additional clue will count against your score.
Holmes assigns you to each case as an intellectual exercise. Hence, he’ll never demand to prove your findings. Knowing what happened and why is enough. You can reach conclusions based on circumstantial evidence, eyewitness accounts and your own reasoning. Don’t be afraid to make an educated guess; rely on your intuition. After all, Holmes solves most of his cases from the comfort of home. He respects his time and so should you.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SETTLE
When solving a case, you’ll eventually reach a point of diminishing returns. The amount of possible clues is limited and visiting more places does not ensure a clearer picture. In fact, checking up more and more clues tends to be a sign that the investigation isn’t going well.
Remember that criminals won’t just incriminate themselves. You are not going to find a paragraph with all the information needed to solve the case. The solution is up to you, as is the necessary reasoning to get there.
Some people are afraid of missing out if they don’t exhaust all possibilities. In my experience, this is not the case. The game’s substance is found in the main clues, with the rest being red herrings, redundant information and empty paragraphs. It’s more fun to work with what you have and try to deduce than to prolong the game one more hour with a pointless search.
When you have a strong case, compare your score to that of Holmes. You are not going to beat him and you are not expected to. I also did poorly the first time! Focus on the clues you have and don’t be afraid to go over them a third time. Good luck!