I was recently asked by someone who is not at all familiar with gaming, “what good mystery games are there for me to try out”? Mystery as a category of gaming is not very well defined as, like in most medias, mystery plays a part in many different genres from first person shooters to horror. That being said, there are many titles which place such an emphasis on mystery either in their gameplay or in their story line that they deserve being placed in their own unique categorisation. So, without further ado, here are, in my opinion, the top 10 mystery games ever made.
#10 | Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments
Have you ever wanted to be Sherlock Holmes? Well now you can in Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments. This title, which makes reference the work of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, is an opportunity to solve six separate crimes, murders, missing persons and mysteries through the eyes of Mr Holmes himself. With very positive reviews both from professionals and from gamers on Steam this is a great pick for anyone looking for some mystery in their life. Watch the trailer below:
I know, he’s no Benedict Cumberbatch but, sometimes, change is good…
# 9 | Fallout New Vegas
This is a slightly bizarre game to put in this list I know but, despite this being one of the most critically acclaimed, open world, RPGs out there, it is still (in my opinion) a mystery game.
You wake up being examined by a Doctor with no knowledge of how you got there, it is here where you customise your character’s traits and appearance. You then discover that you were shot whilst working as a courier but, due to the loss of your memory after a bullet going through your skull, you have no recollection of what you were carrying, who you were working for or why you were shot. For the rest of the game you must unravel the mystery of your current circumstances. Obviously, this applies to the majority of the Fallout franchise, in the third you are looking for your father and in the fourth you are looking for your son. But what makes New Vegas stand out is how many bizarre and wonderful ways there are to play the game with multiple endings available to you. If you are not aware of this title and want to know more then watch the video below:
If you want a mystery and an open world RPG then this is the one for you.
#8 | The Wolf Among Us
This is one of the most positively reviewed games released by Telltale Games out there. If you don’t know the developer “Telltale” and are a fan of mystery games then you are in for a treat. The Wolf Among Us is an episodic game set in a fantasy world where you play Bigby Wolf, the Sheriff of Fabletown, who is investigating a murder. And, you guessed it, he’s also a werewolf. See the trailer below:
This game has the setting of a gritty detective thriller but has weird and wonderful characters that we would associate with fairy tales in its story. It is a confusing concept at first and it takes a while to adjust but, once you do, it is a gripping adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
#7 | Life is Strange: Episode One
If you’re looking for a great mystery game then this might just be the one for you. Not only is this a well developed game with an engaging story line but the first episode is completely free on steam so you have nothing to lose if you don’t like it. I don’t want to give away too much of the story so allow me to give you a quick introduction. You play a 16 year old, Max Caulfield, who is a student of photography at the Blackwell Academy in Arcadia Bay. Quite early in the game you discover that Max has an amazing ability that changes her life dramatically. Max begins to have visions of a disturbing future of death, destruction and betrayal and, with her new found powers, has to figure out how to prevent these events from happening. Here’s a trailer that might interest you further:
In episode one enough happens to help get you invested in the story line, from then on you have to pay for the following episodes (kind of a clever business model when you think about it). So I recommend you try the first episode and see if is your sort of game.
#6 | Heavy Rain
Heavy Rain is a PlayStation exclusive that was released in 2010. It is a sophisticated mystery game that puts a large emphasis on decision making and the butterfly effect. With multiple ways to play the game and with many ways for the game to end no single play through is ever the same. Here is the official release trailer from eight years ago:
Haunted by the death of his first son Ethan does everything in his power to find his second son before he becomes the victim of the disturbed Origami killer. If you have a PlayStation and haven’t yet played this game I really recommend it.
#5 | The Walking Dead: A Telltale Game Series
You don’t have to be a fan of the Walking Dead TV series to play this game. It is a completely different set of characters and events so no prior knowledge of the series is needed to get into this game. And, in my opinion, this game tells a better story than the TV series. You might be asking yourself, if you are not familiar with this title, why is a zombie game considered a ‘mystery’ game? Well there’s a simple explanation for that. This game, much like the Wolf Among Us, is developed by Telltale Games who specialise in making titles with well thought out plots with decision making being the foundation of their games. Here’s the trailer which is well worth a watch:
You play Lee Everett, a former academic, who is on his way to prison after being found guilty of murdering a congressmen who had an affair with his wife. During your ride in the police car to county jail out of nowhere you crash into a sickly looking man and then swerve off the main road into the woods. The scene then goes black. You wake up in an upside down police car to find that the apocalypse has come. This game is a mixture of a third-person survival game crossed with a mystery as you meet young Clementine who is completely on her own, separated from her parents. You spend the rest of the game trying to find Clem’s family but, along the way, you discover that someone is hunting you, but why? This is one of my all time favourites and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a game that puts an emphasis on story telling.
#4 | Stanley Parable
If you are a fan of being left in the dark and having your actions explained by an unknown, omniscient, narrator then this is the game for you.
You play Stanley, an office drone who spends most of his time inputting code into a database. One day you enter your office and there is nobody there, furthermore, there are no instructions left for you on your computer. After some time passes, you decide to investigate what on earth if going on… I won’t say much more but here is a trailer to tickle your taste buds:
This is such a fantastic game and it is very self-aware and willing to break the fourth wall. I strongly recommend it.
#3 | Bioshock
Bioshock has become a very well known game and has had many sequels. However, none of them, in my opinion, come even close to mystery and the massive plot twist that comes in the first. When I first completed the game I was so shocked with the ending I had to stop gaming all together for about a week. It is the only time I have felt that a game has actually played and manipulated with my mind. And that is not a bad thing, it really made me think about life and how we interact with total strangers. Here’s a trailer to give those of you a sense of its feel:
It is a very spooky game, it could even be classed in the horror genre, but if the 15 year old me could play it alone so can you! I apologise for not telling you why this game is such a good mystery but the only way to find out is to play it yourself…
#2 | Firewatch
I’d heard lots of things about Firewatch from the Steam community, reviews and from friends. I didn’t fully get it until I actually bought the game and, wow, it’s breathtakingly beautiful and intense.
I want to try and explain the story to you myself but the game developers have done it so eloquently I feel a direct quote is needed:
“Firewatch is a mystery set in the Wyoming wilderness, where your only emotional lifeline is the person on the other end of a handheld radio. The year is 1989. You are a man named Henry who has retreated from your messy life to work as a fire lookout in the Wyoming wilderness. Perched atop a mountain, it’s your job to find smoke and keep the wilderness safe. An especially hot, dry summer has everyone on edge. Your supervisor, a woman named Delilah, is available to you at all times over a small, handheld radio – and is your only contact with the world you’ve left behind. But when something strange draws you out of your lookout tower and into the world below, you’ll explore a wild and unknown environment, facing questions and making interpersonal choices that can build or destroy the only meaningful relationship you have.” Source – http://www.firewatchgame.com/
Here’s a trailer to give you a glimpse into the world of Firewatch:
The dialogue alone is enough to make you want to play this game but as the trailer shows there is someone out there messing with you and the Firewatch team, but who?
#1 | LA Noire
LA Noire makes it to the top of this list as, let’s face it, it is the most deserving to be called a mystery game. You play detective Cole Phelps who is a WWII veteran. You begin as a regular police officer, working on patrols and responding to armed robberies. However, it isn’t long until you make your way through the ranks and become detective. Along the way you will suffer vivid flashbacks to a traumatic past. Your job is to follow leads and solve your cases as quickly and efficiently as possible. Here’s a trailer for those who want to know more or for those who wish to reminisce:
Do you have what it takes to know when someone is lying and when they are telling the truth?
So there we have it the top 10 mystery games ever made. Did you like this post? If you think I missed something let me know in the comments below and stay tuned for my next feature.