Game Review: Mysterium

Mysterium on its face is a more complicated version of Clue, but a deeper look shows a game that is easy to learn, easy to play, and much more nuanced than the empirical facts and logic found in the classic whodunit game!

The relationship between Ghost and Clairvoyants is like Charades, but with only silent abstract images.

Clairvoyants want to be the best individually, but if one fails, they all fail to solve the murder!

The Mysterium game box.

Non-traditional Methods for Solving Crime

Mysterium is unlike any other cooperative game.

Most cooperative games have characters with asymmetric abilities which can complement each other in fighting the enemy or solving a puzzle.  Mysterium characters do not really have abilities, rather it is you, the player with the skill!  

In Mysterium, you are trying to solve a murder, just like in Clue, but with a twist.

The ghost doesn’t quite remember who murdered them, but they do have a good idea of suspects.  It isn’t until the Clairvoyants sort out the suspects, locations, and what item each of them had, does the ghost remember who the murderer is, and they have to help the Clairvoyants find out which of the suspects is guilty!

In the first phase, each Clairvoyant is assigned a suspect, location, and weapon on the ghost’s board, and the Clairvoyants have to figure it out before time runs out and the ghost disappears.

If all of the Clairvoyants succeed in finding their suspects, the game moves to the second phase, where they have to figure out which of the suspects actually did it.

The clairvoyants can cooperate with each other when interpreting their visions from the Ghost.

The Clairvoyant relationship with the Ghost.

Players in the role of Clairvoyants have to get into the head of whoever is playing the Ghost, and likewise, the Ghosts need to have an understanding of each Clairvoyant’s thought process to give them the best clues possible.

The Ghost wants the Clairvoyants to succeed, and therefore must be as helpful as possible.  When selecting visions, the Ghost tries to think about how each player thinks.  A player may tend to focus on colors in a vision, or small details, or really compare visions to rule out suspects, locations, and weapons.

At its heart, Mysterium is a bit of a psychological mind game, and the skill of the Ghost is paramount!

Not everything is black and white.

In Clue, you disprove each suspect, location, and weapon by essentially learning about alibis from other inspectors.

However, in Mysterium, nothing is black and white.  Since the Ghost cannot talk, abstract visions are the only communication, and each round, when informing the Clairvoyants if their guesses are right or wrong, the ghost may only knock once for yes or twice for no.

The Clairvoyant knows that the ghost is trying to communicate who a suspect might be, but any logic that is used is more artistic than scientific!  For example, visions may have nautical themes in common, suggesting a suspect with ties to the ocean.  However, the ghost may have used visions that are mostly blue because the policeman’s uniform was blue.  Tricky!

This cooperative game retains the competitive aspect.

The game is a real challenge for the Ghost who has to do most of the work, but the players are constantly thinking as Clairvoyants with limited time to get the job done.

Even though all players are working together, each Clairvoyant has the final say on their decisions and can actually share an opinion (or vote) on whether they think another Clairvoyant’s decision was right or wrong.  Correct choices raise a Clairvoyant’s clairvoyance level, which factors in during phase 2 of the game.

The Clairvoyants with the highest level will get to have three visions to help them, while lesser Seers only get one or two visions!

A successful game ends with at least one of the Clairvoyants solving the murder of the Ghost!

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

  1. What is your favorite cooperative game?
  2. If you have played both Clue and Mysterium, how do you think they compare?
  3. Do the identities of the Clairvoyants in Mysterium matter as much as the characters in Clue?

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