Sherlock Holmes • The Panic Room • Online Puzzle Game Review
Game Website | Company Website | Based In: Gravesend, Kent, UK
💪 Difficulty: Medium to high difficulty (for age 10+).
⏲️ Time duration: 1 to 2 hours.
🔢 Capacity: 1-6 players.
💬 Hints: Hints & solution available below each puzzle. Click to reveal as needed.
🛒 If you PURCHASE due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
💪 Difficulty (as perceived by Mattster): 6 to 7/10 (team of 1). Some puzzles are real tough ones!
🔢 Ideal team size: 1 to 2 players. Rarely do I recommend more than 1 for these online games, but this title actually provides the adequate challenge needed to perplex even expert puzzlers, so an intimate team effort may be advantageous.
The year is 1912, the location: London town. You and your group think yourself to be a top-notch group of detectives and are itching to take on your first big case. What better start than a case that Sherlock himself has been trying to solve? You’ll need your wits about you, a keen eye for detail and don’t forget to take notes! During your investigation, you will come across quite a few individuals who will hopefully help connect the dots and lead you on the right path. Perhaps you will even be able to catch up with Sherlock and solve the case yourself?
Sherlock Holmes is such a well-loved subject for popular media that it's inevitable to see him pop up in the escape room and puzzle game industry every so often. Sometimes, the company does his revered detective name justice, and sometimes, not so much.
Luckily, it is with pleasure and respect that I report that not only does The Panic Room fall soundly in the former category, "Sherlock Holmes" the online escape experience is one of the best renditions of its class. It just gets it. A great story, portrayed through excellent voice acting, complete with a decent format of game play--it's full and well-rounded package.
The story begins by explaining that the famous Sherlock has ironically disappeared while investigating an ongoing missing person case. So, in other words, problem further compounded, and nothing's resolved. You naturally jump in and take over, though you must retrace his footsteps all the way from the very beginning.
With literally nothing but a bulletin board and its content to start, it was a strange and startling way to start an online escape game. I am much accustomed to at least being given a clear puzzle at the first step, so the entire notion of "just let the players feel it out" was unsettling in the most refreshing way. I like being challenged right off the bat!
To be fair, the game did explicitly inform me that I was looking for a line of address as my solution. Brief moments of hesitations and then finally a few mouse clicks later, I understood what I was supposed to do. Not so much as a puzzle but actual intel-gathering from the bulletin board--this set the tone for my mission nicely. This actually felt like detective work, as opposed to an conspicuous puzzle game. With my destination obtained, I headed out to the streets of London.
This remainder of the game would continue to follow this basic format. You will be given evidence of sorts, puzzles hidden within. Solving each puzzle would yield another address (in most cases), resulting in an almost cat-and-mouse chase. This is a highly effective setup, with each new location bringing me one step closer to cracking the case, while yet more intriguing details would surface and thickening the plot at the same time. In other words, a mystery well written.
However, after a few steps, one obvious obstacle struck me as unnecessarily challenging: There didn't seem to be clear directions on how to correctly input your addresses. It wasn't due to a complete lack of attempt, but it just wasn't clear enough. The solution field looks for an exact match of a phrase, and it's rather unforgiving. So let's clarify:
The solution will always be in ALL CAPS with no space, unless otherwise specified
The street will always follow the format: number, then street name, then street "type"
The number will always be numerical, NOT letters, and NOT in ordinal form
The street "type" will always be fully spelled out, not abbreviated
For example: "123th Example St" should be entered as "123EXAMPLESTREET"
Once this was sorted out, however, we're golden. I could once again focus on simply enjoying the stellar contents.
Unlike other Panic Room installments, this entry relies heavily on audio files to propel the story forward, and competently and entertainingly so, too. With each arrival at a new locale, you would encounter a new character, either a suspect or an informant, who would then audibly share valuable information with you. Benefits come in twofold: 1) It minimizes forced, required reading, and 2) it imitates a witness interview, which again fits comfortably into the gumshoe framework.
Graphics of the area and photograph of the character from each scene are also featured. While they play more of a supporting role and are not as substantially integral, they provide a pleasing visual and give the game a consistent look.
Rounding out this outstanding Sherlock escape game are the puzzles. To be honest, I hardly expect most at-home games to stump me since I've just done so many during the pandemic. Even then, "Sherlock" managed to genuinely challenge me on quite a few occasions with riddles that I either haven't seen before at all, or uncommon ones that I don't encounter often enough to be an automatic no-brainer. I would even call a select few deliciously tricky outright! Days like these come farther and fewer in between for expert players, and for that, I am so grateful.
Challenges are carefully curated and appropriately themed to the story world of a Victorian England detective, and varied widely in materials and formats. There are both straightforward puzzles like deciphering symbols according to charts, and more creative challenges such as examining the personals section of the local newspaper. Quality is consistent from beginning to end, and should not disappoint even the most hardcore detective genre fanatics.
I truly wonder if Sherlock Holmes holds a special place in the game makers' hearts, because it is so extremely apparent that they've spent a great deal of time and effort to absolutely perfect this product. Without exaggeration, within the realm of virtual escape games of similar fashion, I regard this as one of the best. If you ever need just one solid recommendation from The Panic Room online store, this would reign near the top of my list for a long time to come.
★ As discussed above, the first challenge is to standardize your address solution input. Once you got it down, it's good.
★ You're required to go back to previous resources at some steps to gather necessary info. (Finale task included!)
READY FOR FUN?
"Sherlock Holmes" is available for purchase HERE.
If you PURCHASE due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
ESCAPE MATTSTER 😍
⤻ Full disclosure: Complimentary game access was generously provided for review purposes.
⤻ All media credited to and provided by contents owners. No copyright infringement intended.
⤻ Speed code for on-site search: TPRSherlock