Some games have a theme that just grabs you and immediately generates a lot of interest. Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty’s Trail is obviously a game about a feline detective set in an alternate reality of sorts where animals commit crimes.
Either way, Purrrlock Holmes is a quick playing deduction game for 2-5 players that takes about 20 minutes to play.
In Purrrlock Holmes, each player will have a suspect card in front of them that displays the suspect and time of the crime they are trying to solve. You cannot see your own suspect card and must perform investigation actions to solve the crime.
When you investigate, you play one of the 4 suspect cards in your hand. Other players will tell you if it is a lead or a dead end. If the suspect on the card matches your suspect, it is always a lead. Alternately, if the time on the card is within an hour of the time your crime was committed it is also a lead. Everything else is a dead end.
You can perform two investigation actions each turn and then you pass the remaining suspect cards in your hand to the next player. You can also guess the suspect and/or time before or after investigating. If you correctly guess one of the attributes on the suspect card, you will gain one paw print token. If you have figured out both the suspect and the time you can collect 2 tokens. Each token shows a number of victory points you have earned.
After all players have taken their turns, Furriarty, our collective nemesis, advances up the track. The game ends when he is either caught or escapes to the end of the track. If Furriarty escapes, everyone loses, but the person with the least points is considered the Litter Box Inspector, so I guess they lose the worst. If Furriarty is caught, the player with the most points is the winner.
Puns aside, Purrrlock Holmes is an easy to explain deduction game that is quick get up and going. For experienced gamers, some of the decisions can be maybe a bit too automatic. It is very much a logic puzzle more than a game and can be rewarding if you approach it in that manner.
I played with my 11 year old and it really was a good challenge for her. She’s played a ton of games before, but Purrrlock involves a slightly different way of thinking than many board games. There were definitely situations where she had enough clues to know both the time and suspect but couldn’t quite get it worked out. One of the most satisfying things in modern board gaming with kids is to see them pick up on something that not only helps them in the game, but also has practical applications.
There are a few “gamey” elements as well. Because you pass the suspect cards you don’t use to the next player, you may often consider which clues would be most helpful to the next player and investigate with those. You also may delay solving your suspect card to try to get a more valuable token that may be a little farther down the trail.
The artwork, by Jacqui Davis, does really make the game stand out. While I’m not particular fond of cats, it’s cute enough to be engaging for kids but still has a bit of a Sherlock Holmes darkness to it all.
Ultimately though, I feel that there just isn’t a lot of game to keep experienced gamers engaged for more than a couple of plays. It is fast enough that is doesn’t overstay its welcome, but Purrrlock Holmes isn’t a game I’m going to be itching to get back to the table again and again.
I will likely keep Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty’s Trail around in my collection as a game to breakout during game nights with the family. It certainly serves a role in teaching logical deduction while cleverly making kids think they are just playing a game.
However, that is also part of Purrrlock Holmes’ downfall. The fact that there is so little else to do besides play a card and logic your way through it makes repeated plays much less interesting.
Final Score: 3 Stars – A punny theme and a pretty straightforward deduction game. Can be good with younger players but doesn’t have a lot of staying power for gamers.
• Works well with younger gamers
• Great artwork
• Too little game
• Lacks replay value