I'm a big fan of Douglas Adams work and "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" is one of my favourite books of all time.
I really enjoyed the first season of the BBC America TV series, and am currently working my way through the second. Though I've felt that Stephen Mangan's portrayal of Dirk Gently from the short-lived 2010-12 BBC Four series was more in line with the books the overarching mystery of BBC America's first season was better than the brief 60-minute mystery per episode of the BBC Four version.
So when I say this in my local game store I was pretty interested, I loved the stylised artwork for Todd and Dirk featured on the box, and reading the back I was reminded of games like SuperFight, Funemployed and Snake Oil which are all heavily enjoyed by my regular gaming groups.
The game is pretty simple, there are three types of card;
-"Mystery" which range from Why Does My Cheese Look Like Jesus? to When Will The Moon Explode?
- "Person of Intrest" like A Professional Magic The Gathering Player or An Underwater Filmaker
- "Clue" A Fox Hunt or Size 48 Tap Shoes
Each player draws 4 "Clue" cards, then the person whose turn it is, the "Holistic Detective" for the round, draws and reveals 1 "Mystery" card and 3 "Person of Intrest Cards" face up on the table. The person to the left of the "Holistic Detective" is the "Police Detective", everyone else is an "Assistant". Each "Assistant" then plays 2 of their "Clue" cards face up next to the mystery this can be between 2-12 cards depending on the number of players. The "Holistic Detective" then tells a story about what happened which of the 3 "Person of Intrest", to quote from the rulebook, DID ITand how it all fits using only half of the available "Clue" cards. Afterwards the "Police Detective" must also tell a story solving the mystery but use only the other half of the "Clue" cards. "Assistants" vote on whose story is better, that player gets a point, in a tie more clue cards are played and both detectives must work them into their existing theory, before another vote, if there is still a tie the person to the right of the "Holistic Detective" is the tiebreaker.
I've played several rounds of this game over the course of the day first with 3 players and then 4 and 5 as more people joined us. The games were pretty enjoyable although I don't feel like we reached the same heights of hilarity we have done in games of Funemployed or Snake Oil, as there is a lot more to consider and incorporate into your storytelling than in those games.
The rules state one of the "Person of Intrest" cards DID ITbut that's difficult to work in when some of the mystery cards aren't answerable by who did a thing but really random like What Does Purple Sound Like? or What's for Lunch?. We had issues, where the cards revealed, were so random it took a while for the detectives to put something together in their heads and start telling it. Yes, that is part of the challenge of the game, but it detracts from your enjoyment when people are struggling so much. We just tried to have players answer the question using at least 1 "Person of Intrest" in their story rather than trying to force the fact someone DID IT.
The cards themselves are clear and easy to read, there are a couple of cards with pop culture references on that maybe not everyone playing will know, the biggest problem for me was the artwork...or rather lack of it. Some of the "Person of Intrest" cards have artwork, these are usually depictions of characters from the show so The Holistic Detetcive card has artwork of Dirk himself, A Sad Millennial card shows the character Ken (There's also a card for each of the four members of the Rowdy 3 from the show which I didn't feel was needed as that's four cards just called "Rowdy 1-3" and "Rowdy X").
I like this artwork but there is no art on the majority of the cards, I'd have loved to see this artists interpretation of A Sexy Veterinarian or A Man Who Dresses Like a Polar Bear they could've been cool and really heightened the fun. Also while there is no art on the "Clue" or "Mystery" cards, I don't see why they couldn't have had it.
Honestly, if you are a fan of storytelling and improv games then you'll probably really enjoy this, if you're a fan of Dirk Gently in general then there isn't much here apart from the small handful of cards with art directly referencing the show itself.
Supposedly this is the first in a series of "Everything is Connected" games. If this means that more games are coming with different intellectual properties attached then I'd be wary that there'd be only a handful of cards associated with each new property, however, if they're more rule/card expansions so that it's not always a case of who DID ITbut to the storytelling method i.e. tell a story answering this question using "x" number of cards then I might be interested.