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We all love a good old-fashioned murder mystery. And there is nothing more good and old fashioned in murder mystery than the game Cluedo. Yet the one thing Cluedo misses in its sleuthing formula is ghosts and the ability to talk to them. This is where Mysterium comes in.
In Mysterium, you have a collection of players split into two groups. One person playing the ghost and the rest playing as psychic detectives. Done through two stages, the objective is for the ghost to help the psychics solve who killed them through the use of various picture clues. The first stage makes up the bulk of the game with the second stage being the final grand act.
The Clock Strikes Noon
During the first stage each player is secretly assigned their own set of murder clues by the ghost. One person, one location and one weapon. Casper will give out a picture card to each player, corresponding to their murder clue. Once the psychic believes they know what the card is trying to tell them they will place their crystal ball on the clue they think they are being pointed to.
In order to avoid confusion, the first stage divides when the psychics must divine these clues. Forcing the psychics to work out the person, location and weapon in that order before reaching the end of the board. Once players have picked what they assume to be their answer they can vote on their other psychic’s answers. Guessing whether they are correct or incorrect. Voting correctly will give the psychics points towards getting them more cards each turn. During this stage there is a turn timer also, meaning if the psychics can’t get all three clues in seven turns everyone loses the game.
Since this phase constitutes the bulk of the game, it has a lot going on. A little to its detriment. It took a solid hour to decipher the instruction pamphlet, but once that quandary was solved the game itself was quite entertaining. Neither side has an easy time of it in this game. The cards the ghost has to given out are fairly cryptic in nature due to their beautifully abstract designs. Forcing the ghost to think about the images before they hand them out. Psychics also have to put in a similar amount of thought to know what the ghost is thinking.
Fortunately, the psychics are allowed to openly share and discuss their cards with the other players. Co-operation helps to land people in the right direction, with enough uncertainty that people are free to make their own decisions on what cards mean. Voting is another mechanic that helps this discussion feature. You can display whether you think another one of your psychics is making the wrong decision and if you are right are rewards with the chance to earn more cards down the line.
And Strikes Again at One
Our second phase of the game is like the conclusion of an Agatha Christie novel. Once all the players have gathered their suspects, they are all placed into the centre and are assigned a number. Mr. Spookems will then choose which of these sets of clues they deem to be the correct one and pick cards to help the psychics find that set. The catch with this round is that all the psychics share one set of cards. Depending on how fast they got their clues and how accurate their votes where, different psychics will be able to see up to the maximum of three cards. After they have seen however many cards they are allowed to see, they then place a vote in their sleeve. If the majority of people vote on the correct set everybody wins. If not, everybody loses.
Stage two does feel like more of the same. Forcing the psychics to all work from the same cards does allow them all to cooperate more effectively. But the secret voting does detriment this. At this stage our group found that more often than not, we all knew who was voting for which set anyway. Mitigating the point of secret voting entirely. That’s not to say this stage was never challenging. We never actually won a game of Mysterium. With everyone working off the same cards, we often found ourselves using the first presented idea. I fully believe the game to be winnable but it is entirely dependent on your group.
Mysterium is an entertaining game to be sure. It takes far to long to work out how to play and the instruction booklet could certainly be clearer. But the main game, is a blast to work through. Presenting a challenge to both the Psychics who have to solve their cards and the ghost who has to delicately choose which cards to give out. If you ever have a small group of people and want to solve a murder with them, Mysterium is definitely worth a go.
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- Entertaining gameplay
- Forces careful thinking for both sides
- Beautiful card designs
- Every game is always a challenge
- Instructions aren't clear
- Secret voting in the second stage seems useless