Ghosts wander these hallowed halls, the shutters open and shut unexpectedly, and there’s probably a skeleton hanging around here somewhere. And for some reason you keep thinking about cake. Clearly the he only conclusion you can reach is that ghosts are terrible communicators. This is Mysterium.
Mysterium was developed by Oleksander Nevskiy and Oleg Sidorenko, two of the most amazingly European names I have ever seen in my life, and features art by Igor Burlakov and Xavier Collette. Prior to the game’s publication from Asmodee, who keep climbing the rank of “favorite game publishers,” this game had been bopping around the world as one of the most hyped import games since Catan, and for damn good reason. Not only is this game shockingly stunning, it’s also a game that could be played completely non verbally. In fact, most people would argue that it should!
Mysterium is an asymmetrical cooperative game that casts players in one of two roles. The majority of players will be Psychics, who have all been summoned to the manor in order to find clues. The other player is the Ghost, an unfortunate murder victim driving down property values and really being a bother to everyone.
In the game, the Ghost player has to direct the Psychics to a person, place, and murder weapon that only they are privy to. Prior to the game, the Ghost assigns these using an adorable little tri-fold screen that wouldn’t look out of place in a game of Vampire the Masquerade. After he’s assigned the cards to the correct players, it is his job to get the Psychics to guess correctly. In order to do this, the Ghost hands out beautifully illustrated abstract cards, which the players have to interpret. To make this game just a more aesthetically interesting Dixit, however, the players are on a clock: They only have eight rounds to gather all the essential clues, and then determine which one of them has actually caught the murderer. The game explains that only by the Psychics solving it’s clues does the Ghost regain the memory of who actually did it, but I feel like that’s just a very nice way of saying that our poor Ghost is a bit on the flaky side.
It’s way nicer than saying “they really need ghost adderall.”
In plenty of playthroughs, I’ve heard this game called “Clue in reverse,” and it’s easy to see what people mean by that; The person, place, and thing and the murder elements are all there but instead of a mystery to the table it’s just a mystery to 99% of the table. It’s hardly a criticism, however, to be compared to one of the few “classic” board games that is generally agreed upon to be “not bad.” Also, yes, it’s been compared t Dixit, and that’s also fair. Mysterium, however, is obviously the great grandchild that Clue always wanted, and it also takes Dixit and steals it’s lunch money and kicks it in the shin. Everything about this game, from it’s tone to it’s art to the sculpt of the small crystal balls you use to mark your character, feels right. This game is right. It’s fun, it’s smart, and while players might find it a bit intimidating at first (did I mention the fact this thing comes with a cardboard clock ALONG with a tri-fold screen? God I love this game) I guarantee that, by the end of it, they will want to take a turn as the Ghost.
Skip-A-Turn can not recommend this game enough. A literal must-own.