Next week, Famicom Detective Club makes its Western debut. Itching to solve video game mysteries? We’ve got some great recommendations for you!
I always wished more people got into the Touch Detective series. Debuting on the Nintendo DS, it followed a young woman named Rina who… well, touches things! (This was when companies were finding reasons to use the system’s touch screen.) In addition to solving silly crimes in a world populated by people who wouldn’t be out of place in a Tim Burton movie, Rina would keep a diary of the things she touched and described how they felt. It was surprisingly pleasant for something with such a macabre approach. — Jenni
It’s not exactly an unusual choice! But when I want to solve a mystery, I turn to Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. Each murder case winds and twists in so many bizarre ways that they’re incredibly hard to predict. And when you do? You feel so clever in doing so. Plus: the music during the Nonstop Debate is just fantastic. It captures the energy of an action game, and its ability to get your blood pumping makes it unbelievably exciting to look for holes in testimonies.
Just the same, solving these deaths is bittersweet. The victims tend to be characters you know and care about. It makes for an emotional ride that no other mystery game I’ve played has matched. — Joel
The Layton series is full of weird video game mysteries. But if you really want some bonkers lore? The one to play is Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. Is there time travel? What’s going on? I won’t spoil anything, but the answer is as nonsensical and elaborate as you could want. And yeah, it doesn’t quite have the charm of Curious Village or the sheer content of Last Specter. But the puzzles you solve along the way are still very fun. — Graham
This is seriously a no-brainer. All you need is the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney trilogy. Now that it’s on Switch, there’s no excuse to not try out this classic series. All I need now? For Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Dual Destinies, and Spirit of Justice to all port to the Switch. And the Great Ace Attorney series is about to come to the West! So many great murder mysteries all in one series. But I’m serious about the original trilogy. I’ve now played it through completion on three different platforms. — Keri
Adding to Keri’s suggestion, I’d also like to specifically mention Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth. Unlike the mainline titles that spend most of the time in court, Investigations let you control Edgeworth in moving around and inspecting “every suspicious-looking nook and cranny.” The way this game delivered most of the confrontations right at the crime scenes? It made me feel like I was actually unraveling murder mysteries on the spot.
I also wish Capcom would work on the multiplatform remaster of Investigations after The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. And also perhaps the later mainline trilogy! Hopefully, that can also finally lead to an official English localization for the sequel. — Kite
Though it’s a completely different genre than anything that has been mentioned, I found Siren to be a very compelling mystery story. Piecing together the lore through archives and creating hypotheses about the characters and history of Hanuda was tougher than any mystery or detective game I’ve played in the past. The interesting thing about Siren is that there are so many fan theories that have never been officially confirmed. That means we may never know the answers to all our questions.
Not only is the story a mystery, but the game itself is one as well. You could say that all horror games have a puzzle element to them (Silent Hill 2 and the Resident Evil series, for example), but Siren was truly mind-boggling. Who would ever think to freeze a towel in one character’s route so that another character in the future can use that frozen towel to trick a shibito away from his patrol route? — Stephanie
I hate using the thinking meat in my head. So for me, the best detective games don’t make players actually solve the mystery so much as feel surprised and delighted by its twists and turns. And maybe feel a bit smart for putting together a puzzle that was always meant to be solved in the first place! For that, one of my favorite games of all time is Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective.
Players wake up in the dead form of a detective named Sissel. They’re then charged with finding out just what Sissel was doing when he died and who killed him, using the poltergeist-like powers of a spirit. From there it’s a long chain of environmental puzzles, manipulating objects and events to create a set of Rube Goldbergian chains of cause and effect that lead to the finish line. Along the way is a number of genuine surprises and twists, and the best dog in games, Missile the Pomeranian! — Josh