This Mysterium board game review was made after playing the game seven times.
What is Mysterium?
Mysterium is a murder mystery board game with a dreamy twist that was designed by Oleksandr Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko, and is published by Asmodee. A group of physic investigators enter a haunted manor and, with the help of a ghost, try to figure out who committed a nasty murder. The goal of Mysterium is simple: Don’t let the murderer get away with it!
The cards in Mysterium are the main focus of the game. Each investigator must look through the dream cards, the location cards and the weapon cards in order to figure out their assigned suspect, location, and weapon. The player who has the role of the ghost knows the answers to these questions, but they must enter the investigators’ dreams in order to give them the clues. The investigators have seven rounds (days) to solve the case.
The first phase of Mysterium is the dream stage, in which the ghost selects Vision cards to give to the psychic investigators. Each investigator has his or her own assigned suspect/location/weapon, so everyone is getting different clues.
The investigation stage then begins and the players try to figure out the face-up cards that the ghost was referring to. Players can give each other tips, but it’s ultimately up to each individual to make their own choices.
Finally, the ghost tells each player if they were right or wrong. If anyone guessed correctly, they’ll move on to their other cards in future rounds or, if they finished with their set of three cards, they focus on helping their teammates.
If all of the investigators are able to figure out their suspects, locations, and murder weapons by the end of the seventh day, then one last round takes place. The players work together to figure out who the real murderer is, where they committed the crime, and what they used to commit the crime.
- Mysterium oozes theme. This type of haunted house mixed with a murder mystery theme is both unique in the board game world and immersive, so most groups should have an easy time getting into this one.
- Mysterium has some of the best board game art out there right now. Each component looks fantastic, but the vision cards are the highlight of the game. The artists, Igor Burlakov and Xavier Collette, should definitely win some awards for the job they did on these cards.
- Because the cards have so much detail, you can pick out a lot of different clues in each one of them. That adds to the challenge for ghost player and the investigators because there’s more to look through on each card and to compare.
- It may seem like a horror game, but Mysterium is actually very family-friendly. The interactions between the investigators and the attempts at team deduction lead to a very fun experience for players of all ages.
- Mysterium scales extremely well for different player counts and difficulty levels. You don’t change any of the rules no matter how many investigators are playing, and you can just add in more cards to make the game a tougher challenge. It’s definitely one of the best board games for larger groups.
- I do worry that the base game will become stale over time. There are only so many cards in the game, so if you play through it many times with the same set of players, it could become pretty easy to figure out the clues. Future expansions should add to its replay value, though.
- There can be a bit of downtime. Sometimes it’s tough for the ghost player to come up with clues for everyone, so the investigators will have to sit there doing nothing for a few minutes.
If you are a fan of murder mysteries, chances are you will love Mysterium. If you like thematic games, or deduction games, you will probably be a big fan of Mysterium. It’s also a very solid family game, so it’s one that that plenty of people would get a kick out of. I think all co-op fans should at least give Mysterium a try, but if the theme doesn’t interest you, I don’t think the gameplay will make up for that.
Mysterium is definitely staying in my group’s collection. Even when it gets frustrating, we really enjoy working as a team to solve the cases. Even if we don’t play it a lot in the future, Mysterium will be a board game worth owning for the fantastic artwork alone!
Update: Mysterium is number one in our Best Board Game Art rankings!
Update 2: It’s also number one on our Top 5+ Player Board Games list!
Update 3: Be sure to also check out our review of Mysterium Park, a streamlined version of Mysterium with a carnival theme.