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Sherlock: The Network – Review * 19 January 2014

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Long desired and finally here, Sherlock: The Network brings fans an exciting new adventure in game form. Produced by Hartswood Films and The Project Factory and available in the UK on January 20th on the Apple App Store, the game brings users face to face with Sherlock, John, and Mycroft as played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Mark Gatiss, in new and exclusive video footage shot in the sets of the series. The three actors address you directly - in some wonderful and slightly disconcerting scenes, John is talking to you on FaceTime, in footage filmed handheld by Martin Freeman himself.

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In the game, you play the role of a nameless member of Sherlock's homeless network, newly inducted and just starting out on initially menial tasks set by the detective. You journey around London by foot, tube or taxi, the latter two options giving the first of the numerous mini-games that make up the structure of the app. The tube mini-game in particular is enjoyably challenging, requiring you to piece coloured line sections (with a line connection crossover) together to enable the train to travel from one point to the other - the challenge comes from the fact that the pieces you are provided initially may not be correct, and the train itself may begin to travel before you have completed the track…

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The storyline is divided into numerous cases, some individual, others connected to the overarching narrative that runs throughout. In each case, you have to journey to destinations on the main London map to interview suspects and crack clues. The clues take the form of the aforementioned mini-games, of which there is a great variety, encompassing a wide range of suitable skills such as code breaking, visual observation, and audio decryption. These puzzles increase in difficulty towards the end of the game. All are timed, and though there is a 'skip' button that appears after a set period, using it forfeits the score you have built up through each section - important to consider as the game features a worldwide leaderboard system that links to your Facebook account.

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At the end of each case, you must put all the pieces together in your Mind Palace, assimilating floating text describing seemingly disparate information to produce the final solution. All these elements coalesce into an intriguing whole - this is not a game which you can be expected to just hammer straight through in a single sitting. Instead, it demands your full attention to be able to proceed and fully comprehend the story that is being placed in front of you - just like the series itself in many ways! 

It's a no-brainer from us of course, but we highly recommend Sherlock: The Network if you want to experience a more cerebral and genuinely challenging piece of mobile gaming that just happens to feature a glut of new video footage and voice work from the cast of the BBC series.

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Sherlock: The Network is released on the UK App Store on January 20 2014, priced at £2.99.

International releases dates and an Android version are set to be announced in the future.