SNAP Review – Sherlock Holmes: Baker Street Irregulars
There are plenty of fictional detectives that are recognized in pop culture – but there are none that quite match the enduring appeal of Sherlock Holmes.
Van Ryder Games has a whole series of interactive graphic novels that let you step into the famous detective’s footsteps.
“Playing games is elementary, my dear Anitra!”
You take on the roles of the Baker Street Irregulars – a gang of kids who help Sherlock on certain cases within London.
This Graphic Novel Adventure is rated for ages 8 and up. Cases can take up to 90 minutes to solve.
Grelin is a comics author and it shows in these books. Their art is a great fit for this series because the faces are expressive and there’s an excellent use of detail to direct your attention to important clues and away from information that’s not important.
There are slight differences between the same panel for different characters and that really captures the mechanics of this game – it’s super neat.
Everyone who is playing should take a book. The four books each follow a different character: Ike is big and strong, Vicky is nimble and flexible, Wiggins is the leader of a group and a keen observer, and Myrtle is a master of disguise.
You’ll need a sheet of paper or something else to take notes on – maybe a detective notebook?
Sherlock himself will get you started on page 1 of each character’s book, and direct you to the mission log for more instructions.
Once you’ve picked a mission, you’ll bounce your way through the books. Don’t read the pages and panels in order! Follow instructions and numbered clues to find out where to go next, like a choose-your-own adventure.
Keep an eye out – each character will have some opportunities (or numbers) available only to them.
A few years ago, we worked through Sherlock Holmes: Four Investigations with our daughter. That’s a single book, with four mysteries that you can work through repeatedly until you find the solution for each. We really enjoyed working through these, even though they were sometimes pretty hard.
We also knew about The Crusoe Crew which was Van Ryder’s first cooperative graphic novel adventure. We’re excited to see these two ideas, Sherlock Holmes and this cooperative experience, coming together.
Maybe not quite surprises, but things that took us off guard.
When you work through these books as a team, you have to communicate very clearly and examine your book carefully. When we played as a family, we missed clues that only showed up for one character because someone else hurried us “forward” through a scene.
We took it a second time through and I said “hey, what about this thing right here?” “Huh, nobody mentioned that last time…”
It’s also very tempting for kids to read other panels. The story is spread out enough that it probably won’t give them major clues, but it makes it easy to get sidetracked.
The instructions tell us that it’s possible to solve all of the mysteries as any single character (or combination of characters). Not all options will be open, but there should always be enough there to solve the puzzles. But we really struggled at 2 players, and the few places where a solo puzzle is specified, it’s very hard, especially for families.
But, this is Sherlock we’re talking about – remember that the master detective doesn’t take on “easy” cases! It’s appropriate that these mysteries are hard. They’re much easier with 3 or 4 players and a little bit of time – so just make sure you have enough people ready to play!
I’d recommend Sherlock Holmes: Baker Street Irregulars for a family ready to dig in to some challenging puzzles.
Although the recommended age is 8+, I’d only play with a child that young if you’re ready to help them patiently search through details and work through the puzzles. This set is probably better for 10 or even 12 year olds.
We give Sherlock Holmes: Baker Street Irregulars 3 out of 5 picture panels.
Find it at the Van Ryder Games website, or ask at your local bookstore or game store.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Sherlock Holmes: Baker Street Irregulars from Van Ryder Games for this review.
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Sherlock Holmes: Baker Street Irregulars
Number of Players: 1-4 (we say 3-4)
Age Range: 8+ (we say 10+)
Playtime: up to 90 minutes