Mysterium: Ghost-Bothering Whodunnit Coming To PC

Mysterium

In the last week I’ve recommended ghost-bothering board game Mysterium [publisher’s website] to two different people asking about which board game they should pick up for a family Christmas present and I think at least two other people have picked up their own copy of the game having played it at my house in the last month. It’s one of my favourites and now it’s heading to mobile and to PC via Steam.

Mysterium is an asymmetrical co-operative game where one person plays as the ghost of a murdered manservant and the rest are psychics trying to find out how the manservant was murdered. The communication between ghost and psychics happens via these wonderfully illustrated cards which represent dreams in the game’s fiction. Objects, colours and ideas contained in those dream-cards are intended to guide the psychics towards particular suspects, locations and weapons before time runs out – a button as part of a dream card might hint towards the suspect being a seamstress, for example.

Once all the psychics have identified one line of enquiry – a potential culprit, location and weapon – the ghost remembers the circumstances of his murder. One final dream takes place where the ghost tries to communicate to the group which of the scenarios was the one for his murder and solve the crime once and for all. In terms of play, it’s maybe somewhere between Cluedo and Dixit.

Mysterium

The way I play it, I don’t really see why the ghost is picking out these other culprits and scenarios because the bad memory fiction feels a bit weird so I play it as if all of those murders occurred too, it’s just that only one of them happened to this particular ghost so you/the ghost are just needing to weed out the irrelevant psychic echoes.

ANYWAY. The board game’s publishing company, Libellud, is working with boardgame digital adaptation specialists Asmodee Digital and developers Playsoft to translate the game into a digital format. Looking at some of the screenshots as well as the accompanying press release, they’ve stuck with the current artwork from the physical version and are building an interface around it that means players can play in a similar way to how it works when you’re playing in person. I’d still prefer in-person because that’s a big part of the enjoyment for me, but I like the idea that this might help you share a version of the experience with people who live far away, or if you love playing board games but struggle to get your friends and family interested. Obviously I’ll wait and see how the game turns out but if it works that will be its niche in my own life!

“Mysterium allows players from all over the world to investigate together in multiplayer mode and cooperate through an in-game chat that enables fellow players to point out visual clues on a card. Players can also share their visions with other psychics and approve or reject their choices with Clairvoyance Tokens. In Mysterium, up to 7 players can join together for fun, engaging games.”

Mysterium

There’s also going to be a story mode:

“And for those who wish to enter the manor alone, the Story Mode offers players the possibility to discover who killed the ghost, in which room and with what weapon through a several hours long investigation full of twists and turns.”

It goes on to add: “At launch, players will be able to discover the story of the first original psychic; the stories of the 5 other psychics will be released later as free updates.”

The physical edition’s expansion, Hidden Signs, will be a paid expansion for the digital edition.

Mysterium will be available on Steam in early December for $9.99 and on mobile (iOS and Android) for $6.99 – so just in time for Christmas. I’ve sent an email asking about cross-play and whether that will be supported so I’ll update if I hear back on that front.

UPDATE: I’ve heard back from the PR and the game is cross-platform so Steam players would be able to play with friends who might own it on iOS or Android.

From this site

18 Comments

  1. MikoSquiz says:

    Mysterium is a lot of very pretty artwork cards in search of a game. In terms of gameplay it’s probably one of the weakest efforts I’ve ever come across in the whole field of board/card games. A pretty, arty nothing.

    • Shiloh says:

      Have to say I agree. We played it a while ago (having seen Quinns, Mrs Quinns, Matt et al seemingly having a blast with it on SU&SD) but it really didn’t fly for us and it’s not been back out since.

      Possibly one of those games where it’s more fun to watch it being played than actually playing it.

    • syndrome says:

      I see you haven’t played/seen Dixit then.

      Mysterium is, in practical terms, Dixit’s spiritual successor, but unlike Dixit, it has a story and play roles.

      Dixit won ‘Game of the year’ in France and Spain in 2009, then it won German ‘Spiel des Jahres’ next year.

      Because you live under the rock, Dixit is/was so incredibly popular it’s still being made, and although Mysterium is a game made in Ukraine, French Dixit publishers (Libellud) did (re)publish Mysterium with the same artists onboard.

      link to en.libellud.com

      • MikoSquiz says:

        I’ve heard Dixit mentioned a lot, but only by people who aren’t interested in tabletop games.

      • Shiloh says:

        I don’t live under a rock, games-wise – it’s just that me and my group didn’t like Mysterium. We gave it a shot, it felt like a party game that was much less than the sum of its nicely designed parts, and we put it away to gather dust on the shelf till we can offload it.

        You’re right about one thing though – I’ve never played Dixit (and, very likely, never will now if it is indeed the spiritual predecessor of Mysterium).

      • amaranthe says:

        Your argument is “You don’t like this game that’s loosely related to this other game that won some awards in random countries, therefore you are an uncultured swine”?

        Ooooookay….

      • Archonsod says:

        Libellud’s version kind of bears out the point though – beyond the art style change on the character cards they added various rules to try and increase the gaminess (the betting system and similar) which, at least for my group, actually make it a worse experience (partly it’s the art style change which ruins the feel of it, but mainly it that the additions are far too fiddly for far too little gain). It’s also unlikely to be enough to sway anyone who dislikes Dixit due to it’s lack of depth, complexity or actual gameplay. Oh, and like Dixit it tends to give an advantage to players who know each other well versus those who don’t.

        • Josh W says:

          Yeah, the players are the game, the ludicrous combinations of players’ imaginations. I see the way it behaves over multiple plays not as a disadvantage but as a wonderful engine of absurdity, in jokes etc. I also really agree about the english version, it gives you various knobs to twist, literally in one case, but that doesn’t particularly enhance the core idea of sending out profoundly ambiguous clues and trying to keep a straight face as your friends decipher them.

    • Ferno says:

      Pretty harsh assessment! Can’t say I agree, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every game I’ve played of it. It’s a game of suggestion and interpretation, and I wouldn’t say games along similar lines like Codenames, dixit etc. are lacking in game. It’s just a different sort of game. I get a lot of pleasure from discussing with friends what we think a particular other is trying to infer from one card. The reveal at the end also has the great release where the ghost gets to vent their frustration at all the times you came so close to the right choice then veered off. I love it :)

      • MikoSquiz says:

        I loved Codenames, and along similar lines I think Concept is great. Mysterium is just too vague to be enjoyable to me, I find it immensely frustrating that you’re basically just taking blind shots in the dark all the time and that’s the whole game.

        It’s Batman 1966’s Bat-Deduction, the game. And the reveal at the end is purely an exercise in internal swearing for me. It’s not so much dull as it is painful.

      • Archonsod says:

        I can see where the lack of game is coming from. Dixit’s only mechanic is the scoring one; codenames you at least have a push your luck aspect and the assassin, though again it’s a pretty basic party game level.

        Personally I’ll go for CS Files (or it’s remake Murder in Hong Kong) every time. You get the same ‘try to interpret what precisely these clues mean’ discussion with the added spice of a hidden traitor mechanic.

  2. The First Door says:

    I utterly disagree with the people above me, I adore a good game of Mysterium. We always play with a totally silent ghost and one card per psychic per hour (1 c/pph) and I’ve always come away from it wanting another game. The post-game ‘what the hell was that card supposed to mean’ discussions are always fun too!

    That’s one reason I’m not so sure about a digital version though, as most of the fun for me is listening to or getting involved in the discussions about what a certain card means and the interaction between ghost and psychics. I’m not sure that’ll transfer well from the spirit to the digital realm!

    • Ferno says:

      Totally agree. I love Mysterium and have enjoyed every game I’ve played of it. Most of the fun however comes form the discussions between different people, the different routes people take when deciding what a card means and watching the ghost (or being the ghost and) desperately trying to hide the fury as your friends dismiss the idea you were aiming for. Not sure how well that would work online.

  3. Moraven says:

    Great game that is built around the ongoing table talk and narrative built around the cards the ghost gives the players. Most times the ghost does have cards that could lead a player to 5 different things, but could simply be convening color since no other card is a good match.

    I have the same concerns as above, that this will not work as well in digital form

  4. Rainshine says:

    I like board games getting some attention. Having played the European game Mysterium essentially translated the rules of, and Mysterium though, I don’t enjoy those sort of games (I call them Think-Alike, where the ability to anticipate have an idea of how other player’s minds works are critical to the game.

  5. Kelson says:

    I really enjoy Mysterium. It’s a very thematic and well put-together game with nice components that reminds me of a mix of Clue, Dixit and Deception: Murder in Hong Kong.

    It’s nice to play a deduction game that is fully cooperative (everyone either wins or loses together) and using vision cards instead of words or a game board is a nice refreshing way of presenting this.

    Unlike the reviewer, I don’t have an issue with the Ghost’s memory issues. Being murdered is a traumatic experience, I would presume. The Ghost remembers fragments of his/her final days and is trying to piece the clues together by sharing information with the mediums in the mansion. The Ghost remembers interacting with these people in these places and saw these objects…but which of those memories are relevant to their murder? I like that the Ghost doesn’t know the answers until the final round of the game. Though I admit that other murders happening in the mansion is a nice way of explaining this as well – I hadn’t thought of that.

    However, I am skeptical about a mobile app version of Mysterium. The bulk of the game is based around table talk. Trying to figure out what the Ghost is thinking and means by different vision cards is what makes this game fun. I’ve played Mysterium quite a bit on Tabletop Simulator with everyone using mics and that’s worked out great. But take away the chat and I worry this game won’t be nearly as fun.

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