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5 Best Detective Video Games of All Time, Ranked



As a detective, there's something awfully satisfying about rummaging around for clues and cracking a case. Video games have supplied that feeling for decades, all through the power of strong narratives and enthralling ultimatums that dare to put the player in the heated seat.

For years, we've honed our skills by filling as many strong-willed detectives' boots as remotely possible, using a combination of fact-finding and intuition to master the craft and nail countless cases. But which games should we pay our respects to for giving us all the necessary tools to get the job done? Well, here's how we see it. Looking from our perspective, you could almost say they're somewhat, for lack of a better word, elementary.

5. Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments - Launch Trailer

Speak of the devil, it wouldn't seem right to compile a list based on murder-mysteries and not have our beloved Sherlock Homes make an appearance. As the great detective would often say, it's elementary, and having numerous books and media to bolster his reputation just proves that. But let's talk about the long arm of video games the master of mystery has put out. Specifically, Crimes & Punishments.

Set in 1894 London and its monochrome suburbs, Crimes & Punishments follows the celebrated Sherlock Holmes as he works to uncover a series of mysteries that plague the city streets. By working over every crime scene with a fine tooth comb, the fictional legend fortifies his place atop the pillar of most ingenious detectives in the world of literature. In video game form, his legendary prowess only evolves by leaps and bounds.


4. The Wolf Among Us

The Wolf Among Us - Season Premiere Launch Trailer

Telltale has a history of filling its story-driven games with segments in which you must investigate certain premises in order to obtain clues. That said, no other title has explored it as well as The Wolf Among Us, which was hatched for such purposes. By using all accumulated knowledge from previous games, Telltale crafted one of the best murder-mystery video games of the last decade. As far as a sequel goes, I mean, It might've taken a decade to get around to it, but the constant badgering definitely paid off in the long run.

The Wolf Among Us casts its eye on Fabletown, a place where fairytale creatures disguise themselves in order to live among everyday citizens. However, with some looking to rebel against the rules and a plot brewing from beneath the city streets, it all comes down to Sheriff Bigby, formerly known as the Big Bad Wolf, to put a lid on it before it spirals out of control.


3. Lost Judgement

Lost Judgment - Story Trailer | PS5, PS4

The long arm of Yakuza games is one of the most admired in all of the known industry. That's a fact. But its spin-off series, on the other hand, hasn't been given as much of a spotlight. Or, at least not as much as Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio probably would've anticipated. But the truth is, both Judgement and its follow-up chapter, Lost Judgement, are underdogs fit to dominate the whole of the genre.

Lost Judgement follows the story of Yagami, an ex-lawyer turned detective. After hearing of a body showing up across town, he works to unearth the breadcrumb trail, using leads to connect the dots and establish a foothold in the crime scene. However, with the only suspect having an alibi in place, it all comes down to intuition. There's far more to the case than a run-of-the-mill murder, that's for sure. It's your job to unravel it.


2. Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain - Launch Trailer | PS4

After developing Fahrenheit, which spoke volumes for Quantic Dream's innovative ideas, it was only natural for the team to put their skills into overdrive for another game that flowed from a similar vein. The result of that, of course, was Heavy Rain, a hybrid of story-driven and choice-based gameplay with multiple story arcs and conclusions.

After waking from a blackout, Ethan Mars discovers that his son has been kidnapped by the notorious Origami Killer, and his only chance of finding him is through a series of tests. Between the barbaric trials, a private detective works to unearth the truth behind the killer, using clues to retrace the steps and put a stop to them once and for all. However, with the sand of the hourglass falling like bullets of rain, it all comes down to a race against time.


1. L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire Official Launch Trailer

A decade after its launch, and no title has been able to dethrone Rockstar's best-selling L.A. Noire from the podium. Built with a living, breathing metropolis in mind, Rockstar knew from the get-go how they'd forge their next-level action-adventure title. Through game-changing innovations and superior face-mapping technology, the 2011 entry was destined for greatness, and its prowess is still very much celebrated to this day.

L.A. Noire unravels a string of dark and dismal tales, wherein lies a connection that only legendary beat cop Cole Phelps can piece together. From rags to riches, traffic to arson, the tenacious detective works to forge his name in the very stone that fortifies the criminal underworld. But getting to that prominent position on the board boils down to cracking cases no regular street cop can dare fathom.


So, what's your take? Do you agree with our top five? Let us know over on our socials here or down in the comments below.

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Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.