This 5-Minute Mystery review was made after playing the game eight times. We were sent a prototype copy of this game by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This is a Kickstarter preview so rules, components, and art could change before the game is released. This will become a full review once we’ve had a chance to play the retail version of the game.
What is 5-Minute Mystery?
5-Minute Mystery is a real-time cooperative game in which you need to work as quickly as you can to find out who stole the priceless MacGuffin from the museum. The crook did leave some mysterious symbols at the scene, so you need to use your codex to convert those symbols into clues and make the arrest.
5-Minute Mystery Gameplay
Setting up a game of 5-Minute Mystery is very simple. You choose a case to play, draw a culprit tile and place it face-down, shuffle the scene cards, shuffle the four stacks of clue tiles, and then evenly distribute all of the culprit cards. You’ll then start the timer and go!
During each round/scene of the game, one player will have the codex and it’s their job to turn the five dials so the correct shape variations are lined up. The other players will be looking at the scene card and will tell the codex player the shape variations they find on the card. There are five shapes and five variations of each shape. Once all five symbols have been found, you’ll check the back of the scene card to see if you were correct. If you were, you’ll get a clue tile. If you weren’t, you don’t get a clue tile and just go straight to the next scene.
When you earn a clue, you take a clue tile from one of the four stacks. You then flip it over and line up its barcode to the same-colored barcode on the culprit tile. If it matches, you leave it there and you know something about the culprit. For example, if the clue tile shows a purse and the barcodes line up, you know that the culprit has a purse. If the barcodes don’t line up, you discard the tile and you know that the culprit doesn’t have that item. Regardless, everyone can discard culprit cards based on the new information.
You’ll win if you catch the culprit before time runs out. You also get a “Hail Mary” opportunity if time does run out, meaning that you can still win if you guess who the burglar is from the remaining suspects.
Thoughts So Far…
- 5-Minute Mystery brings the real-time chaos that I like. The first four cases weren’t too tough, but in every other game we were rushing to get through the scenes.
- It’s definitely different. It’s like a mashup of 5-Minute Dungeon, Where’s Waldo, and Clue.
- A big part of the fun in this game is coming up with a communication system. We use the player reference cards and call out the shapes and numbers that we see (the numbers represent where the shape variations are on the reference card).
- I like that each case changes one or two rules. That makes each one a slightly different puzzle to solve.
- I’m a big fan of this art style. It reminds me of old Disney shows and movies.
- The theme is… goofy. The robbers go out of their way to leave these symbols behind and will even climb up to the ceiling to leave their mark.
- I’m glad there are multiple versions of each scene. You can’t just memorize where the symbols are on each card.
- I think 5-Minute Mystery is going to be best at the two and three-player counts. The two-player game is great because both players have a job to do – one codex player and one looking at the scene – and you just switch roles each scene. With three you just set it up so two players can look at the scenes together. It’s definitely playable with four, five, or six players, but you’ll either have more people confusing the codex player or some players will just be waiting for something to do. Four isn’t too bad, but I don’t think I’d play this with five or six.
- You could easily make this a game your kids could play by themselves by either extending the time they have or by removing the real-time element altogether.
- 5-Minute Mystery’s replay value is probably going to be very high. I’ve only seen some of the culprit and scene cards that are going to be included in the final game and I still want to play this prototype version again after eight games.