If you are hearing this then I am dead. I can also tell you that there is life after death, though all you can do is talk to psychics. Oh that’s a point, if you can hear this then you are psychic! That might come as a shock, but you aren’t one of those carnival psychics who swears that you’ll meet a tall dark stranger whose name starts with a P... wait an R... or maybe a D. No you’re an actual real-life mind-reading, contact the dead, psychic! Right. Now we’ve got that sorted, let’s talk about my death. You see I was killed by a man named... what was his name? It definitely started with a P... wait, no, an R!
Mysterium is a 2-7 player detective cooperative card game set in France in which you play as either a psychic detective trying to get to the bottom of a murder case, or as a corpse. The ghost of the victim communicates with the psychics via the medium of dreams in order to ‘help’ them solve the case and get your ghostly revenge on your killer. I should say early that this review is based on the original Portal Games release, I’ve not played the English remake, though I understand it is almost the same game with only minor tweaks.
The game takes place over 7 rounds, each representing a day of the week. Every day the ghost will, without talking, dish out a number of dream cards to each player. They can give as many or as few as they want, but they must give 1 dream to each detective every night. The dream cards are obscure images which make Dixit look tame. They are either so obscure as to be of little clear use, or specifically designed to look like 4 things at once. The detectives can then discuss the dreams that they have had, helping convince each other what the ghost was trying to say. Once they make up their minds they each place a counter on the murder weapon they think the ghost was trying to show.
|The game set-up for 3 detectives and the ghost. Players can be dealt more than one dream card each day to try and guide them towards the correct item, location or suspect.|
Each detective has a unique combination of murder weapon, location and suspect assigned to them and the ghost will reveal who has guessed correctly. If a detective guesses the murder weapon then they can move on to start guessing the location. Once they guess a location they move on to the murderer and once they have figured out everything they can only help the others catch up. Once all detectives have their combinations figured out then the remaining days can be used to narrow down the case to the 1 true killer, the ghost decides which of the suspects was the killer and assigns 3 dreams to try and tell the detectives who it was, if they guess right then everyone wins, but if you run out of days then the game ends and everyone loses.
|The interesting artwork and selection of item cards.|
Mysterium does a good job of getting everyone involved and interested in what is going on, though it can be a bit tedious if you were very good and sailed through your 3 guesses and everyone else is plodding along. Still by paving the way you remove the weapons/locations/suspects from the list of potentials so you are helping your slower members get through. Mysterium is always interesting to play with new people as you get an invaluable, and sometimes unwanted, picture of their psyche, but it also works well on repeat playing with the same player, you start to build up expectations of what card goes to what clue, but since the ghost has a limited hand they can’t always assign the dreams like that which can often punish players who try to game the system. It’s also a great game to play when you have that one guy who won’t shut up, simply make them the ghost and enjoy the blissful silence that comes from them being dead!