The second of their games to be released onto Steam, Asmodee Digital has shifted gears away from the wild west and towards a more horrific genre: An occult murder mystery. Guided by the ghost of a butchered victim, you play as one of a group of psychics trying to pinpoint the murderer, weapon and location of the old crime.
While this is undeniably Cluedo with a new spin, it nevertheless manages to stand on its own two feet thanks to a few inventive mechanics. There is less directly random chance to be found within the game compared to Cluedo, and you have more control over your choices. Rather than simply hinging on memory and guesswork, you have to pick out visual cues and signs from the cards you draw. The meaning behind these and what you're searching for changes from game to game as well, so you can't rely purely on past experiences. Furthermore, communication with players is also limited to trading cards through these visions, making the act of trying to decipher the meaning behind them all the more taxing. This isn't even just a simple indication of matching the same item or colour, as card meanings can be based upon generalisation, analogy, shape comparison or semantic similarities. It's an elegant system, and a surprisingly simple one, which rewards careful calculations and thinking over sheer luck.
Now, the above strengths should have been enough for a near perfect score, but unfortunately they come with a few cardinal sins of gaming attached. For starters, apparently having learned nothing from the ire Ubisoft has drawn for pulling this stunt, Mysterium requires the player to create a third party account to play the game. Furthermore, doubling down on its mistakes, there are no options available for private matches despite this, and it has the habit of crashing when you try to quit the game.
The interface has obviously been made with mobiles in mind, and on a PC it is truly baffling to try and navigate. This should have been easily resolved with at least a solid tutorial, but even that fails to fully explain what on earth you're supposed to do with the confusing user interface. While the core game might be solid, these problems just make a mess of what should be an outstanding game.
The fact Mysterium is still fun to play despite these problems a sign of its true greatness, but each problem nevertheless drags down what should be an incredibly high score. While fans of tabletop simulations would do well to give this one a look, you will want to at least wait until private matches are possible before delving into this particular adaptation.
MYSTERIUM / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: ASMODEE DIGITAL / PLATFORM: PC, iOS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW