‘SHERLOCK: The Network’ mobile game is a mixed bag

Sherlock The Network

SHERLOCK: The Network is mobile game for iPhone and iPad that gives players a chance to step into the role of one of Holmes’ “Homeless Network” and help the Baker Street detective with cases. The game is broken up into 10 cases which each have their own story, but sometimes connect to the overall narrative of finding the kidnapped Mrs. Hudson. To crack these mysteries you’ll have to decode messages, solve mini-game puzzles and search for hidden clues. When your evidence is gathered, you will return to your “Mind Palace” to draw a connection between three key words to solve the case. Many of these game sections are timed, and points are rewarded for faster solution times.


Mind Palace

SHERLOCK: The Network is a grab bag of different games and puzzles, and to put it bluntly, some work and some don’t. The game works best when it uses alternate reality gaming techniques to give immersion to the cases you’re solving. Having to break out pen and paper to crack a ransom note written in code gave me a real sense of agency and accomplishment. However, the gameplay is slowed down by “traffic” mini-games in which you have to connect railways (think hacking a vending machine in Bioshock) or moving cars around in a sliding puzzle in order to reach your destination. These segments of the game remove you from the story and subvert any attempt at immersion.


Because all taxis in London are hailed from shoddily designed parking lots

I should point out though, that the main draw of SHERLOCK: The Network isn’t necessarily the gameplay, it’s the inclusion of exclusive footage and audio from Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Mark Gatiss reprising their roles from the television show. These character interludes are a lot of fun to watch and do, in fact, push the stories along quite nicely, adding to the game’s world building and production value.


Occasionally characters need your help or have instructions for you

If I’m to be honest, I’m torn over SHERLOCK: The Network. It’s fun to see the performers reprise their roles and some puzzles give you a real sense of accomplishment when completed. However, the game lacks focus and can’t decide if it wants to be a casual game that appeals to mass audiences or an immersive experience dedicated to fans. Overall SHERLOCK: The Network is a fun novelty for devotees of the BBC series, but the $4.99 is a bit much if you don’t care about the theme. If you’re looking for a problem solving app on your mobile device, there are better puzzlers out there.


Sherlock: The Network Official Site


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