There’s always something peculiar about mystery games that attract the attention of witty players. The sense of discovering a point to pull off the string and let the thread go all haywire or meticulous details on everything demanding absolute observation?
Whatever it is, it’s intimidating for players to seek out the answers, so they go out putting pieces of puzzles together to create something whole.
Mystery games have this fascinating way of dwelling with players’ minds while leaving crumbs of clues for them to hang on the edge. This everlasting feeling of wanting to understand where it all fits makes mystery games so intriguing.
Best Mystery Games
We have a classic murder mystery, psychological, horror, time travel, and many more. They all create a sense of ambiance where the player is unknown to the foggy situation. Understanding and overcoming the challenges is the game’s core principle, but there are also other things that make mystery games worth playing.
The Return of the Obra Dinn
- Developer: Lucas Pope, 3909 LLC, Warp Digital Entertainment
- Publisher: 3909 LLC
- Release Date: October 18, 2018
- Platform: macOS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
- Genre: Adventure, puzzle
The guy who invented the famous airport simulator Paper Please has brought another masterpiece in the genre of mystery games. The return of the Obra Dinn tells the tale of lost members of the ghost ship and their mysterious death.
Using your pocket watch, you will revisit the past memories of the ghost ship and discover the hidden meaning behind all unfortunate events causing their death.
The graphic here is one-bit pixel art, but the execution of pixel art is redefined fabulously as the player steps into the 3D environment to see its amazing monochromatic world.
Figuring out the mystery behind everybody’s death by putting together the puzzling pieces and observing the story as it slowly unravels to the end is heartbreaking yet satisfying.
With its creative visual art direction and interesting bond between stories and puzzles, the game delivers subtle ways to massively impact players’ emotions.
- Developer: Team Bondi
- Publisher: Rockstar Games
- Release Date: 17 May 2011
- Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Genre: Action-adventure
Developed by the same team that made the GTA franchise, L.A. Noire is a classic detective game taking place in the year 1947. What’s unique about L.A. Noire is that it uses the motion capture sensor for the face to fully render the face expression and visualize them in the game.
Every feeling of doubt, joy, sadness, or confidence is portrayed by the real actors. It creates a whole new layer of depth in a detective game. Players now have to use their intuition to know when people are lying or telling the truth.
A murder mystery game with truly innovative ideas to immerse players into. It might seem confusing when you don’t catch up with the clue and constantly have to check your logbook, but once you are able to read the faces of people, you will work your way up to progression.
- Developer: The Fullbright Company, BlitWorks(Switch)
- Publisher: The Fullbright Company, Majesco Entertainment (PlayStation 4/Xbox One), Annapurna Interactive (Switch/iOS)
- Release Date:15 August 2013
- Platform: Linux, Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS
- Genre: Adventure, exploration
You play as Katie, who has returned home after a long time. It’s one of those games where you soak yourself completely in its home ambiance while rain and thunderstorms roar outside the house.
You walk from one room to another, mingling with stuff that peels off the past memory of the place you once lived. Stitching together the clues of how her family made the empty house more alive.
A bit of toy scattered around the ground, a striking sticker on the back door, or a finely decorated bookshelf tells the lives of Katie’s family. The small details make players get to know her family more as it builds up to an interesting story.
I especially liked the greenhouse garden with slanted glass roof windows. A typical small greenhouse with people taking care of all the flourishing vegetation just like real life.
Upon entering, I could hear the endless droplets hammering the greenhouse glass and the void I could observe from the safety of my house.
I recommend you use headphones to fully immerse yourself in the game.
- Developer: The Chinese Room
- Publisher: The Chinese Room, Curve Digital (consoles)
- Release Date: 14 February 2012
- Platform: Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Genre: Exploration game, art game
It’s more like a walking simulator with less to no gameplay machines, but its excellent delivery of storytelling and secrets to find on the island makes Dear Esther a must-experience.
You are stranded on an island with an invisible body, and looking at the world in a first-person view creates an immersion that you are on the island. It can hardly be called a game as it lacks almost everything a game has to offer. It’s more like interactive visual storytelling that had me invest my time and attention.
Regardless of any puzzles, it immerses players in the mysterious atmosphere that scratches an itch for players to discover their purpose on the island.
The mysterious land begins to open up as you explore and progress further. It’s a two-hour game that won’t take much of your time but will leave imprints in your mind that will last forever.
- Developer: Mobius Digital
- Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
- Release Date: May 28, 2019
- Platform: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
- Genre: Action-adventure
You are sent into space to explore ancient ruins and learn about mysteries shrouded into and encrypt pieces before the sun turns supernova and swallows all of the universes.
It’s a space exploration game that uses the time loop mechanics like Majora’s mask. After every twenty-two minutes, you spawn back to your base and begin to launch like the first time.
There are eight planets, and each plant has a unique set of puzzles that feels natural to the physics of the plant. I was confused at the beginning of my space journey, but once I began to scan and uncover the secrets of the plants, I was left with curiosity and longing for more.
Each memory piece leaves you some hints for the next one. Connecting dots and discovering locations increases one’s understanding of mysterious objects scattered around the planets. Those eureka moments slowly build up to a climax connecting to the game lore and history.
- Developer: ZA/UM
- Publisher: ZA/UM
- Release Date: 15 October 2019
- Platform: Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Stadia, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
- Genre: Role-playing
You wake up with a hangover, without the memory of last night. How you get there, what happened, and the disappearance of your gun defines the character you are playing.
It’s role-playing where you take the role of detective Harry. The game also leans more towards DnD gameplay and its mechanics like character sheets and dice rolls for luck and chance.
The story deals with more mature content of political agenda and existential crisis stuff as you often get questioned on your personality by other characters. Because the person you play is an absolute mess.
Throughout the game, you will find people with their own backstory. Your job is to unlock more secrets and understand the situation more clearly. A small dystopian town with many secrets, and as a detective, it’s your duty to bring justice to the town.
The path you choose will ultimately determine your faith as a good or a bad detective, but at the beginning, you are definitely an ugly drunk detective for sure.
- Developer: Sam Barlow
- Publisher: Sam Barlow
- Release Date: 24 June 2015
- Platform: iOS, Microsoft Windows, OS X, Android
- Genre: Interactive film
It’s a creative take on realistic detective simulation. Yes, it’s a game where you have to find the real cause of someone’s death by carefully observing the series of footage videos.
You are a detective, and your job is to search key points inside an old computer. Everything is presented to you at once, with lots of video clips interrogating a woman whose husband has been murdered.
You have to seek out every possibility of this murder mystery and find out the ultimate answer.
The whole game is to search for a single sentence connecting various other videos and funneling them down to the point of discovery.
It’s vague and confusing, but once you invest your thoughts into the game, you will truly feel like a detective working on a murder case file.
- Developer: Terrible Toybox
- Publisher: Terrible Toybox
- Release Date: March 30, 201
- Platform: Microsoft Windows, macOS, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Linux, Android, iOS
- Genre: Point-and-click adventure
This point-and-click adventure game is heavily inspired by the old classic game of monkey island, Thimbleweed park, provides the charm of playing pixel games that brings back nostalgia.
There are many gags and references to older games that are subtly slipped inside the game environment. You can also find our characters breaking the fourth wall often in a satirical way.
A murder mystery game with light-hearted and funny dialogues. Exploring through the towns of Thimbleweed and interacting with people might lose track because there are many puzzles to solve. Thanks to its to-do list feature, you are never stranded away from your main objectives.
The game also provides you with a casual mode where you can skip most of the puzzles and jump straight to the story of the murder. It’s more forgiving gameplay but strips out the fun of a puzzle-solving experience.
Although the dialogues do not meet Monkey Island’s expectation, it sure does provide a lot of fun moments. If you love Monkey Island, you will be delighted to see what Thimbleweed Park offers.
- Developer: Quantic Dream
- Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment, Quantic Dream (PC)
- Release Date: 23 February 2010
- Platform: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
- Genre: Interactive drama, action-adventure
Heavy rain is a narrative-based, story-driven game where every decision you make has its consequences. With the introduction to four characters you play in different stories, the progression might come as slow, but once the game picks up its pace, you will enjoy playing through the end.
Heavy rain delivers you with an Amazing voice cast, fluid animation, and top-notch facial expressions. You can feel the intensity of emotion on the characters’ faces as you keep on progressing with the story.
The story here might be linear but how you choose to play the game determines the outcomes of the situations. That makes the decision-making more impactful as every small choice you make might influence the course of the story.
Gameplay-wise, it’s more or less like a quick-time event where you have to press a button before executing some major action, such as dodging someone’s punch.
The unique thing about QTE in Heavy rain is no matter the result; you keep moving forward instead of restarting from the previous checkpoint. The game keeps moving whether you fail or succeed in quick time events.
The game is crafted beautifully, ties everything together until the end, and provides an awesome interactive game.
What Remains of Edith Finch
- Developer: Giant Sparrow
- Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
- Release Date: April 25, 2017
- Platform: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS
- Genre: Adventure
It’s a beautiful game where you have to figure out the mysterious death of every member of the Finch family. It’s not much of a puzzle game but a story-driven experience.
As you unlock secrets, you are sent back to the moments where the unfortunate events happened. Some stories are crafted creatively, and some give you an immersive experience while entering every member’s story.
It was at the final story I got goosebumps realizing its core and how it affected me psychologically. This is the game where the gameplay is blended perfectly with immersive narration, and the final act was the perfect example of changing people’s perspective on mental issues through games.
What Remains of Edith Finch reaches out to the players to talk about serious matters. Things are almost ignored by society. A beautiful game with deep meaning and a lasting impact for sure.
The Wolf Among Us
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Publisher: Telltale Games
- Release Date: October 14, 2013
- Platform: Android, iOS, OS X, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Genre: Graphic adventure
Wolf among us is a shell-shaded game taking place in the world of Noir Brooklin. You play as a personification of a big bad wolf who is on a mission to find the killer who has stirred chaos in the streets.
One unique twist about the wolf among us is every person is a fairy tale character from some classic stories like Snow-white or the Straw Man from Wizard of Oz, and many others. The characters have sprung out of a fun and colorful world, to too much dark and depressing reality.
As you investigate and interrogate them, you will learn the sad, bitter truth about the world.
It’s much of a story-driven game where mysteries pile up one after another. It’s not much of a happily ever after story, after all.