In anticipation of our discussion next week of Kentucky Route Zero, Act IV, we have been featuring our previous discussions of the game.
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Everything is online now. As someone who mostly plays single-player games but who still has his console connected to the Internet, there’s no escaping the omnipresent community of friends and fellow gamers. From multiplayer to leaderboards to player-generated content—heck, even the faux-online feel of offline games like DarkMaus—I can never forget that I’m part of a larger social group.
This is not a bad thing. I like the hyper-connected world that we live in, and I can manage my online presence just fine, but knowing/assuming that I’m always connected can result in a weird and (wonderfully) fascinating disconnect from reality in those rare moments when I’m not actually connected to a larger community.
When you open a copy of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, a board game originally published in 1981, you actually won’t find a board. Instead, you’ll find a rulebook, ten story modules, a map of 19th century London, a small directory, and a stack of old newspapers. It’s an odd assortment of contents, especially if you’re used to the cardboard and tokens of Settlers of Catan or Monopoly.
Your goal in Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is to uncover the truth of some mystery, from murder to theft and more. While the solution to each self-contained story is found somewhere in the stack of papers, you’ll find it spilling out onto notebooks and post-it notes and ideally into a snifter of brandy. Like in a good Sherlock puzzle, the solution is messy and jumbled up with other tidbits of useless information. This is a board game full of stuff, and the joy of playing it is found in sorting out red herrings and dead ends in pursuit of a nugget of truth.
Tech giants Oculus and Valve have declared 2016 the year of Virtual Reality (VR). In the past six months, both companies stormed into the consumer marketplace, offering the first two high-quality—and highly functional—mass-market virtual reality devices: the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. Although VR sits poised for a mainstream explosion, it’s far from the new kid on the block; inadequate technology has thwarted the ever-pending VR revolution for 25 years.
When it comes to placing VR in homes all around North America, The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive do raise some red flags. Both pieces of hardware are prohibitively expensive, require high-end computers to run efficiently, and nobody looks cool stumbling around in a VR headset. VR’s high cost of entry and outright physical dorkiness mean it will be a while before VR has its Pokémon Go moment. Even with the proliferation of cheaper, more accessible options (The Gear VR and Google Cardboard), VR still has the potential to tumble back into obscurity.
The concept behind The Deed is a fairly simple one. It is a murder mystery in reverse. In other words, the player takes on the role, not of a detective trying to solve a crime, but instead the role of a murderer who must plan and then execute the perfect murder. Put simply, in The Deed, you need to kill someone and then pin it on someone else.
The core of this idea does correspond in some way to the clearly cerebral qualities of investigation. Like the detective, the murderer does need to think about motive and how motives are expressed through evidence, as well as things like how a murder weapon might best be connected to a perpetrator. However, the fascinating thing for me about playing The Deed is in recognizing how very much more concerned with morality I am when playing as a killer by contrast to how objective and distant taking on the role of the detective so often feels.