I love detective work in all forms, whether it be in my own life like technological issues, or in games like escape rooms or tabletop deduction. I had the chance to watch the Enola Holmes movie on Netflix before this game arrived at my doorstep and really enjoyed the portrayal of a new character in the Sherlock Holmes universe. However, it wasn’t meant to be too much of a brain teaser for the audience and the twists and turns were somewhat predictable. If you think you would be a better version of Moriarty, then read on!
Enola Holmes: Finder of Lost Souls is an opposed co-op game for 2-4 players that takes about 60 minutes to play. The best experience is with three players for more balanced detective gameplay.
The initial game setup is somewhat involved for the Criminal but is mostly so the initial clues and puzzles are available for the detectives on round one. One of the players will be the Criminal and the remaining players are Detectives.
The Criminal will then secretly select six Crime cards to place face down on the game board in order. This order will matter as the Detectives will need to deduce them exactly to win the game. The Criminal will also draw six Making Trouble cards which they will be able to play during the game to thwart the efforts of the Detectives. They will then place four Clues face down on each of four other Locations on the game board and a face up Puzzle card on top of each Clue location. These Clue cards, if successfully revealed by the Detectives, will help them get more information about the Crime.
Once setup is done, the game lasts for four rounds, with the Detectives going first. They will draw On the Case cards which will help them solve Puzzles, move their Detective pawns to Locations on the board, try to solve Puzzles, make a deduction and if unsuccessful the game continues on with the Criminal furthering their plot with more Clues and Puzzles.
During the solving puzzles sequence, the Criminal is given a chance to thwart the Detectives’ progress by playing Making Trouble cards in response to the Detectives playing On the Case cards. Luckily this dance has limits and eventually success is determined to see if the puzzle is solved and results in a Clue made available to the Detectives.
At the end of four rounds, the game ends. If the Detectives have not deduced the flowers and their order on the Crime cards by this point, the Criminal wins.
The game touts being able to play at two but what we found was that a single-player detective can get stuck on one train of thought and they do not have alternatives available to them that a three-or-more-player game session of this would have. With more than one detective, there are more available paths of logic and perspectives since the game will quickly favor the Criminal as more time passes. It’s more effective to make good mistakes early on, rather than the same ones, in order to glean new information. We are all human in the end, and will often not see other available perspectives on our own, convincing ourselves that we had considered every angle.
Since the Clues are hidden beneath Puzzles, sometimes Detectives will burn cards for Clues that aren’t even helpful. I understand this as a wild goose chase but it can be discouraging if they burn through a lot of On the Case cards just to reveal something they already know. If they aren’t able to solve Puzzles hiding game-changing clues then they just have to guess strategically to create new information for themselves. To be clear, this is extremely entertaining to witness as the Criminal so if you’re looking for an opportunity to get that big gremlin energy out this is perfect for you. To be honest, I’m not sure that I would at all be interested in playing as the Detectives because of the frustrating nature of finding Clues.
For those of you more interested in playing the Criminal, it was so delightful to constantly put roadblocks in the way of the Detectives. Trying to scheme near-to-impossible combinations of symbols for the Detectives to burn as many On the Case cards as possible was a puzzle in and of itself. You are responsible for making their lives difficult and to weave around their possible assumptions. Keeping key Clues buried far into the ground or even playing on the egos of your opponents is great practice for those entering their villain era.
In spite of this being yet another IP-driven game, I genuinely enjoyed revisiting key scenes from the movie and seeing how they were adapted for light deduction. We had fun at our table acting out the card titles as if we were retelling our own version of the story, trying to get in each other’s way or get the advantage on our opponent. Unfortunately, if you’re playing this game without seeing the movie, being interested in the Sherlock Holmes universe, or even indifferent about the historical setting of the game it will get in the way of true enjoyment as the gameplay itself will not make up the gap.
Enola Holmes: Finder of Lost Souls is for fans of the movies that want their shot at playing as their favorite characters while engaging in light deduction. Maybe you would like to be Enola Holmes and use your strengths to pursue Puzzles meant for your expertise. Perhaps you are fascinated by the intellectual prowess of Moriarty, who seems to always be one step ahead and pulling the strings of the Detectives like puppets. Whichever you choose, the game is filled with take-that conflict, wild goose chases, and mind-boggling crime. However, anyone that isn’t familiar with the source material likely will not find extraordinary gameplay to satiate their brain wrinkles.
Final Score: 3 Stars – Step into the world of Enola Holmes as a Detective or a Criminal in this opposed co-op deduction game with scenes from the movie.
• Wild goose chases for detectives
• Single-player detective can get stuck
• Game-changing clues can be missed