Remember hearing about a game start-up on Kickstarter called "Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty's Web" quite a while back? Well, in the "better late than never" category, I finally managed to get both the game and Sherlockian company at the Sherlock Peoria home office this week and give it a try.
If you're a cutting-edge Sherlockian who kindly funded their Kickstarter or a 221B Con attendee this year who recognized a great deal when you saw it, you're going to be way ahead of me on this, but for the rest of you, here's the review: It's a great game. Maybe even the best Sherlock Holmes inspired game.
Up until this point "221B Baker Street" was my number-one-ranked Sherlock game, but eventually the little mystery stories ran dry, and some of them weren't quite as good as the earlier ones. That game really depended upon the stories created for each game. "Moriarty's Web," on the other hand, actually could inspire you to create your own stories as you play the game, if you're given to improv or story-telling. Or, you could just play the game, no talent necessary.
It's simple to learn and start playing, like my other favorite collaborative game, "Forbidden Island." You and the other players are your favorite Holmes characters, each with special talents, teaming up to gather clues, witnesses, and more to tie Moriarty to a series of crimes . . . while Moriarty himself is working to foil you.
Each character has a very special personality as you play -- Mycroft with the ability to foresee Moriarty's moves, John Watson the stalwart protector of other players and vital evidence, Irene Adler sneaking into things, and Sherlock Holmes moving swiftly about to solve crimes and save players kidnapped by Moriarty. (We only had four players for our maiden voyage into the game, so Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson were on the bench.) Those personalities give the game a real "Sherlock Holmes feel" if you let it take you, and the premise of desperately running about trying to tie Moriarty to crimes is . . . perhaps . . . better than the tale Doyle himself told in "The Final Problem." (The game could be seen as a prequel to "The Final Problem," if not for the same Watsonian continuity issue that The Valley of Fear suffers from.)
And here's the clincher for me on this game: Moriarty beat the crap out of us when we played it tonight. He was just too wily and kept committing crimes while we were solving previous ones. But we still had a really good time playing it, even on our first time out, not having taken the box out of shrink wrap until fifteen minutes before.
If you're a game fan and a Sherlockian, save up your pennies and get this game. "Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty's Web" is still out there and still a real treat to play with gaming pals or fellow Sherlockians.