"The Martian Investigations" - A Story-Based Detective Game

Earlier this year, I was able to try two cases from the excellent deduction game, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective (review and details). Then I tried to get my own copy only to find it sold out everywhere! I loved the way the game offered a new (to me) spin on choose-your-own-adventure games. First up, it provided a completely open world for the players to move through at will. If you want to go to the French Embassy, you just open the book to that page. The tobacconists, just flip to the correct section. And then you would be able to read a scene of the story taking place in that place, gathering more of the clues that you need to solve the crime that each particular case presents. And that freedom meant you had a game which truly was able to stretch players' intellects and, amazing for a choose-your-own-adventure, work together as a team.

As a long time writer, reader and language teacher, I vowed I was going to take the system and try to do something of my own with it.

And I've just finished doing that!

The Martian Investigations uses the mechanics I first encountered in Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, and have since encountered in other games like Arkham Investigator (actually, I preferred this to SH:CD). The twist with my own game is most noticeably in the setting - rather than and old fashioned Whitechapel or Arkham, I decided to set my game in science-fiction setting - a mining colony on Mars in the year 2307. This meant that I could start throwing some interesting twists and mechanics into the game.

So, in The Martian Investigations, you play the role of Detective Hayley Bendis. You are employed by an enormous mining company, who sends you down to one of its many mining settlements on Mars after a pair of murders. One person was stabbed to death in an old maintenance tunnel and another individual was locked in a greenhouse while its atmosphere was vented. Grisly stuff. You are tasked with the job of finding the culprits of these two murders and bringing them to justice. The only problems are that you're an outsider to the settlement, most people think you're a corporate spy, and nobody in town seems to get along - the researchers are threatening to blow up mining operations, the miners are all stressed, and the security forces have no manpower to spare.

Using a map of the settlement, the daily news feed, and a business and personnel directory, you must make your way through the settlement, interviewing witnesses and suspects, investigating crime scenes, and piecing together the clues of the two crimes. When you think you have the answers, you flip to the back of the book and read a series of questions based on the cases. The quality of your answers will dictate your final score.

Much like the games that inspired it, there is no randomness in The Martian Investigations. This is purely a game of intellect, where you must spot the essential clues and keep your wits about you.

You can get The Martian Investigations from Payhip. You can also read a 7-page preview of the game, to get an idea of if this is for you. The total cost of The Martian Investigations is $2, but if that's too pricey for you, tweeting or facebooking about it gets you a 25% discount when you place your order.


Case 2 of The Martian Investigations is now available.

You can find Case 2, here.

Or you can get the twin pack, containing Case 1 and 2, at a discount, here.


  1. Very good to be a home-brew game, we really enjoyed the experience. We still prefer most Sherlock cases to this one but had a nice evening trying to solve these murders!

  2. Never played Sherlock Holmes cases, but I wanted to try the genre before committing the cash. My GF and I played the first case and had a fun time putting the clues together and deducting the truth of the mystery. Not only that, but we also enjoyed the effort made to the world these cases are part of. The creator did a great job writing a pretty realistic settlement on Mars with tidbits on its time delay with Earth. The tech involved and living conditions of its inhabitants. Current social issues and details on local economies. Its very believable and its helps a load to get into the story. We're almost done with case 2 and I hope case 3 is on the way. My only complaint is the PDF's. Some pages contain landscape pics of Mars. While cool, they eat away at your ink to print. I wish there was a version without the pics for those printing on a budget.

  3. Hey, just found this and looking forward to trying out the genre. As an aspiring homebrew board game designer myself, I am happy to support you. I was wondering, is this inspired by the Red / Green / Blue Mars trilogy? The blurb sounds pretty similar to one of the main plotlines of that series.

  4. Hey Jeffrey! It certainly is inspired by Kim Stanley Robinson's books and gives them a shout-out in the credits! There are no plot points or characters or anything like that from the Mars trilogy, but the technology and state of teraforming is very similar to what you see in Red Mars.

    Have fun with the game!

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  6. I have written a mystery/comedy set on Mars called Sherlock Mars. Reviews and information on Amazon. I have a few complementary copies or can send one electronically if you provide an email address.