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Last updated: February 10, 2021
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Mystery board games have been around for years, requiring you to use your deductive skills to solve the puzzles and win the game. These can be an entertaining way to spend time as a family or with a group of friends, working together to complete certain aspects or trying to outwit the other members of your party. Either way, the best mystery board games can enhance any get-together or entertain you when you’re on your own and want to put your skills to the test.
With so many mystery games on the market, it’s tricky to find a good one. That’s why we’ve considered 30 options to select the top six games available. Our favorite is Mysterium, which can be played with 2-7 players in less than an hour. This game has you working together to solve a murder, with each player working on their own unique mysteries as well as the main one for even more fun. We’ve also added a few other games, including detective and haunted house games, each with its unique gameplay.
When choosing the best mystery board game, there are a few things you may want to consider. The first is the recommended age since some games are more difficult and possibly even too scary for younger players. The number of players it can accommodate is also something to look into, especially if you like to play on your own or with large groups. The gameplay length tells you how long a single session should take. To help you choose the right game for you, we’ve created a comparison table with in-depth reviews, plus added a buying guide for all the features these games have to offer.
If you like to play the best mystery cooperative board games, you may want to add Mysterium to your list. This game can be played with up to seven players, with one player acting as the ghost and the rest playing mediums trying to discover who murdered the ghost. The ghost can’t speak but uses the included image cards to help the mediums figure out who the killer was, the location of the murder, and the weapon used.
Each of the mediums has their own mysteries to solve, plus they all combine their information to help solve the main mystery. Though it works best with several players, it can also be a mystery board game for two gamers, with one person as the ghost and the other playing two medium characters at once.
Each group has its own selection of game components to use to solve the mystery. This includes a variety of tokens, cards, and markers for the mediums and the ghost. There is also a game screen that keeps each of the cards given to the mediums organized, so they can work on their part of the mystery before combining their information with the rest of the group.
This game is designed for players aged 10 and up, so the little ones can get in on the fun as well. It also lasts about 45 minutes, so even the younger members should be able to last through an entire gaming session.
Clue is a classic detective mystery board game for kids and adults alike. There are a few upgrades from the original version, though the gameplay is still the same as it has been for decades. You play one of six characters, who are all working to solve the murder of Mr. Boddy in his Tudor Mansion. There are six suspects, six weapons, and nine rooms to sort through to find the killer, the weapon that was used, and the location of the murder.
To play this game, each player chooses a character/suspect. You roll the dice, moving your character around the board to get to the rooms. Once in a room, you can ask questions, eliminating information until who, what, and where is revealed. When you make a correct guess, you win the game.
Unlike the original version, which used a simple envelope to hold the three answer cards, this game uses a mirror that lights up to reveal the three answer cards when the button is pushed. This mirror does require the use of batteries to work, but these are included, so this won’t affect gameplay until they need to be replaced.
Also included in this upgraded version of the original game are the nine clue cards, which can speed up the game by forcing you to reveal the cards in your hand quicker, which may be a good idea for younger players who aren’t up for a long session.
Anyone who has read and enjoyed the detective stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle will likely want to add Sherlock Holmes – The Thames Murders & Other Cases to their game collection. This entertaining game allows you to play detective, solving ten different cases that are brand new to the famous Baker Street consulting detective.
This game has some unique gameplay since it doesn’t use the board, game pieces, or cards that are found in other murder mystery board games. Instead, there are ten case booklets, each of which has a newspaper, a map of London, and a directory. You use your logical mind to search for clues, answer questions, and solve the crime.
Another interesting aspect of this game is that you can compare your skills in each of the cases with Sherlock Holmes himself. Each case has a solution by the master, showing the path he took to solve it, so you can attempt to beat him or just play on your own for fun.
One issue with this game is that a few of the cases are missing some minor details, which makes them more difficult to solve, though not necessarily impossible for a master sleuth. When you’ve completed the included cases, there are also expansion packs available for even more cases to solve.
You can play this game all by yourself or with a group of friends who will enjoy the unique design of this game.
Betrayal Legacy is a unique mystery board game that lets you create your family story with each game you play. This story is told through multiple generations of your family over hundreds of years, beginning in 1666, so you are creating your family history as you try to survive the horrors that your characters experience with each generation.
This game is played in 13 chapters, each with its own mysteries to unlock and trials to overcome. There are also 52 haunts to deal with, 13 of which can permanently alter the game, affecting all of the following chapters. The remaining haunts are there to terrify the players, affecting the outcome of the chapter you’re on.
To play the game, the players all take turns adding the room tiles to the house, creating your game board as you play. There are also Item, Event, and Omen cards, all of which require some type of action, which affects the character’s stats. When the haunt begins, and the traitor is revealed, you race to defeat them or be killed, which then starts the next chapter.
Each chapter has its own components to use. There are also stickers and instructions to write on or destroy certain cards, making it impossible to replay the campaign, though you can set these aside if you want to replay the story from the start or just stick with free play when the story is done.
Fans of the horror stories of H.P. Lovecraft will likely want to get their hands on Eldritch Horror. This game was inspired by another best-selling board game, Arkham Horror, with new twists and turns for battling ancient monsters like Cthulhu or Azathoth.
This epic game can be played with a single player or as many as eight people. Each person plays as a different globe-trotting character, each with its own backstory and strengths, to solve mysteries and gather the clues needed to keep the Ancient Ones from destroying the world.
There are four Ancient Ones as well, each of which comes with its own story and with unique decks of Research and Mystery cards to use to learn more about your foe and try to defeat them. There are also other monsters that you must fight during your game travels, making this game more difficult and exciting.
There are 12 investigators to choose from, so you can pick a new character each time you play for a new story and adventure each time. There are also 250 tokens and over 300 cards, enhancing your game even more. With so many pieces and cards to organize, setup for the game can be a bit time-consuming, especially for your first game.
Another flaw is that there is a limited number of Encounter cards, but this mystery board game for adults does have several expansion packs to prolong the entertainment.
Those who like to explore haunted houses can now do so in the safety of their own home by playing Betrayal At House On The Hill. This is a two-part game, with multiple scenarios and a selection of room tiles that allow you to create a new game board every time you sit down.
The first part of this game involves the players exploring the haunted house, adding rooms, and dealing with the twists each new one provides for your characters. All the players are working together to explore and build the game board and house levels until the haunt is activated, and one of you becomes the traitor. This person then tries to sabotage the others while the group defends themselves in an attempt to defeat the monster or escape the house.
With 50 different scenarios and a shifting game board, you can play a new story in a new house every single time. The cards and room tiles are all stylish, with haunting designs. There are six explorer figures, including a mad scientist and a gypsy, all of which are pre-painted and look great.
There are some flaws with this game, though. Some of the rules can be confusing, so reading the instructions thoroughly is a must. The trait tabs on the character cards are also a bit loose, so paper and a pen may be needed to keep everyone’s stats clear.
What we liked:
50 haunt scenarios
Shifting game board
Fun to play
What could be better:
Some confusing rules
Loose trait tabs
Things to Consider
Whether you’re looking for the best 2-player mystery board games or some for large groups, you should have no trouble finding the right one to suit your tastes. These games can have you playing detective, acting as a medium, or just exploring a haunted house to solve the mystery and save the day. You can find a mystery game for every age and member of the group, making these games even more entertaining for the whole family.
Features to consider when choosing a mystery game
When choosing the best mystery board games for adults or children, you need to look at certain features to be sure you’re getting the right one. The following sections will help get you started.
The plot of the game is one of the most important things to look at. Each of the mystery board games in our review has its own backstory, which helps to advance the plot using specific instructions and rules for gameplay. For instance, Sherlock Holmes – The Thames Murders & Other Cases has ten cases that require you to read newspaper articles and look for clues on the map to solve the mystery. Mysterium has one person playing a ghost and the others acting as mediums to solve her murder.
Other games involve searching haunted houses or fighting monsters from other worlds, which can be entertaining for those who prefer these types of stories, though they are not always a favorite for everyone. Some plots are better for kids, while others are more technical and frightening. These are best for adults who can understand all aspects of the rules and the narrative to solve the mystery.
The recommended age is also something to consider since some games are much too complicated for younger members to understand, requiring them to partner up with an adult or sit it out altogether. Other games are too simple for teenagers and adults, so they can get bored with the game too quickly, putting it on the shelf to gather dust rather than be enjoyed.
For instance, a game like Clue has simple rules, and the addition of the revealing mirror that children will find entertaining, so the recommended age of 8 and up is fine. Games like Eldritch Horror have frightening elements and gameplay that are a bit complicated for younger members, which is why it is recommended for ages 14 and up.
Number of players
The number of players is also important. Sometimes you may like to play with a large group while other times you may want to enjoy a game on your own. The wider the player range is, the easier it is to fit it into your game playing mood. Some games are also easier to play with fewer or more players.
When playing Eldritch Horror, though you can play on your own, you may need to adjust the difficulty level or play multiple characters at once to actually succeed in the game. So, though it can be played by a single player, it is easier with a few people playing together.
The gameplay time tells you how long a single session of the game will take. Some games take only half an hour or so to get through. Other games, like Eldritch Horror, take a minimum of 2 hours to get to the end. Those who have an entire evening to spend on a single game won’t mind playing the longer mystery games, but those with children will likely want a shorter game to keep the little ones from getting bored in the middle of a game.
There are also some games, like Betrayal Legacy, that require multiple gaming sessions to get through all the chapters and actually finish the game. This means that the 45-90 minute gameplay time is for each chapter, with the later chapters taking more time than the earlier ones. So, overall, with 13 chapters to complete, you’ll need to play a total of 10 hours or more to fully finish the game.
There can be a variety of components included in a specific game, depending on the plot and gameplay. For instance, Clue consists of a board, a variety of cards, some character pieces, and weapons, and a set of dice. This makes the gameplay quite simple. Other games add multiple decks of cards, room tiles, tokens, and even several rule books to the game, making it much more complex to get through it, especially if it’s your first time sitting down to that specific game.
If you have plenty of time to sort out the details, the complicated games may be a good option. For those who want a simple game or are playing with children, the fewer pieces to deal with, the faster and easier the game will be.
With the exception of Clue, all of the games in our reviews are considered cooperative games. These require the players to work together to solve the mystery, defeat the foes, or escape the haunted house, depending on the specific game you’re playing.
Of the 6 games in our reviews, the best one for kids is Clue. This game is easy to learn, with only simple cards, game pieces, and a detective notesheet to keep track of the information that you’ve already discovered. Even younger children can play this game with minimal help, and the addition of the revealing mirror makes it even more exciting when they guess the murderer, weapon, and location correctly.
Wrapping It Up
The best mystery board game can entertain you while forcing you to use those logic skills to solve mysteries and win the game. All 6 of the games we’ve reviewed here are great options, though we have a few favorites.
Mysterium is our top choice. This cooperative game has players acting as a ghost or a medium to solve a murder using cards, tokens, and markers. It can be played in less than an hour with 2-7 people aged 10 and up.
Clue is a classic detective game, where each player works on their own to discover the murderer, weapon, and location. This upgraded version includes Clue cards for faster information gathering and a revealing mirror that replaces the original sleeve. This is also a good game for those of all ages.
Sherlock Holmes – The Thames Murders & Other Cases can be played on your own or with a group. There are 10 cases to solve using a newspaper, directory, and map, making gameplay quite different from other mystery games. There are also expansion packs available to extend the fun.