People are pretty keen on presenting mysteries as things that are satisfying to solve. Nothing beats the smugness of getting the answer right.
I think there are two things better.
The first is calling Sherlock a prick.
Sherlock Holmes is the definition of entitlement. Narrative detail bends to his whim, creating worlds in which his enormous leaps are always right. It’s exactly how people like to see the world, as making sense, because there is a right answer, even if we can’t see it. There’s a reassurance there, but it doesn’t stop him being an utter turd.
The second is more nebulous. It’s the simple pleasure of not knowing what is going on.
Having threads to tug on, but not knowing how they fit together. TV mystery revels in this, as does a lot of modern non-mystery TV shows. In the wake of the series Lost, everyone want their TV to not make sense. It exploits the infinite possibilities of the blank page, by not providing answers until you’re already committed.
The eventual answers are unsatisfying, because up until that point, a million possibilities could’ve been ‘true’, and so, they all were.
In Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, you spend the whole time having barely a clue what’s going on. You bounce from door to door, acting out little scenes from a booklet. They fill in little details, but often raise as many questions as they answer. You start to join dots, but scribble them out as something changes. You make guesses and assumptions, and they might even be right, but you’ve got no idea how to show that.
This is what this game gets so right. It understands that not knowing is fun.
If you want to win the game, you have to be ruthless, quick, and make bold (but correct) assumptions. You need to be exactly the same sort of smart-arse as Sherlock. Entirely disregarding some perfectly valid leads in favour of the one tiny detail that happens to be more important.
I’d actually find it quite annoying if I had any desire to play it like that.
The game is about deduction, assumption, guessing and puzzling. You’ve got to aim for that, but it’s much more fun to meander and drift and discover and feel clever.
I’ve never felt clever at the end of a game. Sherlock always explains how easy it was to just ignore most of the information and pull at the particular thread that works. It’s just as frustrating as the books and shows can be.
But it’s fine, because on the journey you were excited about your wrong guesses, you were laughing at the silly voices, and wondering if every single detail was important.
Uncertainty can be a treat. Not knowing can be fun. You can’t feel clever and certain unless you’ve felt the opposite first.
And that might be most of the fun. Walking the path is much more satisfying than getting there.
In particular because the destination is a schooling from the smug detective.
So take your time. Because fuck that guy.