Talk to the Dead to Solve Murders in Asmodee's Mysterium

Mysterium

Dixit meets cooperation in Mysterium, a gorgeous game about solving murders, speaking to the dead, and using your psychic powers.

Asmodee’s ghostly co-op game has recently hit Steam and iTunes, and has spawned two expansions. But can the base game stand on its own? And will you solve the ghost’s cruel murder and bring it peace at last?

Gameplay

One player is the ghost and the other players are the psychics. Each player has a separate murder that they are trying to solve and the ghost knows the killer, the location, and the weapon of each.

A number of suspect cards are laid out on the table face up. These include the killers for each player’s mystery and also a few additional red herrings (the exact number varies based on the difficulty level that you are playing). A similar number of location cards and weapon cards are also spread out.

The ghost starts the game with seven vision cards. Each vision card has a detailed and intricate picture on it. The ghost uses these to give each psychic clues. A psychic’s killer might be a nun and the ghost has a vision card with an organ on it, or the ghost might use one card with a large wheel of cheese and a second card with a plate to point to a cook. The ghost can use as many of his seven cards as he wishes. He places the vision cards he is using face up in front of the psychic it is meant for. The ghost then draws back up to seven cards, and chooses cards for another psychic. This continues until all psychics have been given clues. The ghost also has a certain number of crow markers. He can play a crow marker at any time to discard as many cards as he wants and draw back up to seven.

Once the last psychic has received her clues, the ghost starts the timer and the psychics must place their player piece on the suspect they believe the ghost is steering them towards. Each player also has several clairvoyancy tokens which they use to bet whether they think other players are right or wrong.

After all psychics have guessed, the ghost indicates whether they were correct or not. If you are correct, you move on to the next element in your mystery, if you’re wrong you must stay and continue to figure out your current element. So in a given round, some players may be getting clues as to the location of their mystery, other players may have moved onto the weapon, and someone might still be straggling back at the suspects.

During the game, players can talk freely (until the final round), but the ghost is not allowed to talk or give any hints outside of the vision cards.

If, after seven rounds, any player hasn’t figured out all three elements of their mystery, the game is lost. If all players have solved their mystery, they move onto the final round of the game.

The three elements of each psychic’s mystery is laid out on the table and the ghost chooses which one is his own murder. He then chooses three vision cards to play: one must relate to the murder’s location, one to its weapon, and one to its killer. The vision cards are shuffled and placed face down on the table.

Without being able to discuss it, the psychics will have to vote on which murder they believe the cards are pointing to. Based on how quickly you successfully guessed all three components of your own mystery, and how accurately you used your clairvoyancy tokens, you may see all three cards, or you may have to vote after only one or two are revealed. Different psychics may see a different number of cards before voting.

If the psychics correctly guess which murder applies the ghost, everyone wins the game!

/Mysterium Components

Review

Mysterium is a work of art; it’s gorgeous. From the pictures on the clue cards to the rulebook and the components, everything about it looks lovely, thematic, and just the right amount of spooky. There is even a soundtrack you can access online, to provide the perfect enhancement for a game that is already rich in atmosphere.

Playing as either ghost or psychic is highly enjoyable and both comes with their own unique and fun challenges. Communication is so important for the psychics, not just so they can help each other, but also so the ghost can understand their thinking — while playing as the ghost it’s fun to see how players interpret the cards you give them. Each vision card’s picture has so much detail, you never know what a psychic is going to pick up on!

The final round is always challenging, which makes it particularly satisfying when you correctly identify the ghost’s murder.

With the maximum number of players the game does slow down a bit, as the ghost has a lot of vision cards to distribute each round. The fact that psychics have something to go off of and can immediately start deducing as soon as the first player gets her vision cards, helps keep players from feeling like they have nothing to do, but the game can still run a bit too long.

We seldom reach the end of a game of Mysterium without wanting to play a second round. It’s addictive, it’s fun, and it’s a great cooperative experience.

Pros: Richly thematic, beautiful artwork, great player interaction

Cons: With the maximum number of players it can drag on a bit