If there's one division in the world of gaming that needs the recognition it so rightfully deserves, it's mystery games. Because let's face it, there's a lack of such adventures in this day and age, and it begs the question: who left in the industry not only has the creativity to chalk up a convincing narrative, but weave a tapestry of compelling gameplay mechanics to make potential detectives stick around for the long haul?
Fortunately, there is a small pocket of mystery games that execute both of the aforementioned elements to the finest degree—and on Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, no less. Curious to hear more? If so, then definitely consider picking up any one of the five following tales the next time you find yourself browsing the shelves.
5. Sherlock Holmes Chapter One
Contrary to popular belief, Holmes and Watson aren't just literary icons, but representatives of the mystery division in video games, too. And although you'd have to step back a few years to soak up the entire anthology that's scrubbed several console generations, a good starting point would be with with 2021's Sherlock Holmes Chapter One, an “origin story” of Holmes' upbringing as one of London's greatest-ever detectives.
Serving as the first open world game in the series, Chapter One invites players to step into the boots of a twenty-one-year-old Holmes. As the fresh-faced detective, you will have the chance to explore his childhood home of Cordona, a remote Mediterranean island that, prior to the cunning investigator's arrival, staged the death of his mother, Violet. In a bid to connect the dots, both Holmes and his old friend Jonathan—a “definitely not Watson” companion—embark on a quest to unearth the truth. That's where you, along with your growing repertoire of skills in the art of investigation, will come into play.
4. Lost Judgement
Lost Judgement, like Ryu Ga Gotoku's Yakuza series, centers its universe around Japan—specifically the criminal underworld and the corrupt schemes that its puppeteers conjure up. Unlike the latter, however, Lost Judgement puts you in the shoes of a lawyer-turned-detective—a crime-fighting, leather-sporting jack-of-all-trades known to the town of Kamurochō as Yagami.
Set in an open-world locale that's bursting with side quests, activities, and character arcs, the standalone sequel lets you knuckle down and immerse in one of the most convoluted yet emotionally engaging mysteries in modern gaming. With oceans of action, puzzle-solving, and enough cinematics and plot twists to satisfy a scholar, Lost Judgement will keep you ticking away for weeks, maybe even months on end.
3. The Sinking City
The Sinking City is a near-perfect representation of 1920s Lovecraftian mystery-horror. Its open-world setting, while paying tribute to the famed writer, develops a world of its own—a flooded universe that incorporates steampunk-like elements and fuses them with an unsettling amount of mystery and horror-based gameplay.
In The Sinking City, you take on the role of a detective who's been sent to investigate the events surrounding “The Flood” of Massachusetts—a natural disaster that engulfs the city in water and threatens to drown its citizens. Using a variety of niche skills and tools, you will enter the flooded metropolis and not only unravel its biggest mystery, but seek a way to keep it from breaching sea level. How you go about solving the citywide issue, of course, will boil down to your ability to adapt and, in short, leave no stone unturned.
2. The Forgotten City
The Forgotten City does a phenomenal job at transporting you to another realm—an ancient city that's on the precipice of being turned to stone. As a traveler who's been hurled back in time, it's your role to figure out why the remote Roman haven is on the verge of freezing, and how you can stop it before its citizens feel the wrath of an ancient curse. As for how exactly you'll learn of these answers will all depend on the questions you ask, the leads you pursue, and the hidden locations you discover.
Much like a lot of mystery games, the idea behind The Forgotten City is to take matters into your own hands—without the lengthy linearity and on-rails drivel. To this end, you're pretty much left to do as you please, and with only the few tools and notes in your arsenal, chalk up a conclusion in any way you see fit. But with the idyllic city wedged in something of an hourglass, you'll have to adapt as quickly as possible for the sake of finding closure.
If you're an avid puzzle solver, and one that just so happens to get a kick out of making gradual progress in a much bigger overarching storyline, then you'll no doubt be patient enough to tackle Immortality, yet another one of Sam Barlow's “lost archive” titles. Its structure isn't all that different from the indie developer's earlier games, in the fact that your goal, really, is to spool through an archive of footage, and thread the clips together to form a timeline of events that relate to a murder-mystery case.
Immortality sees you, the detective in possession of all the key data, put in charge of locating Marissa Marcel, an actress who, prior to her sudden disappearance, filmed three independent movies. Buried deep within these movies and their respective clips and behind the scenes footage, of course, lies an answer to her whereabouts. It's your role, in short, to find the answer to that one all-important question: where on earth is Marissa Marcel?
So, what's your take? Will you be picking up any of the above five games at any point this week? Let us know your thoughts over on our socials here.