Mystery Solved: The 10 Best Detective Games

What makes a good detective game? A mystery that needs to be solved, a set of challenging but still enjoyable puzzles and objectives to be completed. In addition, the right atmosphere is essential. Whether set in a smoky lounge in the 1940s or a more modern city setting, players should feel like they're thoroughly immersed in the world the mystery takes place.

There also needs to be a good detective with whom players can share a profound experience. The games listed here have all of these elements and more. So here are the Best Detective Games.

Updated May 3, 2022, by Christopher Sanfilippo: The detective video game genre continues to intrigue us. Signature series have launched new titles, such as The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles. In addition, new launches, such as Chinatown Detective Agency, have revisited retro-gameplay mechanics and adapted them for the twenty-first century. Finally, titles like AI: The Somnium Files have tasked us with solving mysteries in worlds we never imagined. So, we decided to address these new games and titles we missed.

15 Professor Layton

The Professor Layton series shows that not all detective games occur in dark and gritty settings! While Professor Layton's character isn't a detective, his prowess at solving puzzles makes him just as good. The central plot of the game series has him tasked with solving mysteries.

Players interact with NPC, find clues to help them solve puzzles, and learn more about the environment. Solving puzzles is the only way to progress through the game. Each game consists of various puzzle styles, like mazes, brainteasers, math problems, etc.

14 Danganronpa

For most, high school was a nightmare, but it's a living nightmare for the characters in the Danganronpa series. In the primary three games, students get forced into playing a cruel game created by a remote-controlled bear called Monokuma. To escape their fate, students have to take the lives of their classmates without getting caught.

The gameplay gets split into two styles. The first is "School Life," where the game is like a visual novel. The second is "Class Trial," where players have to deduce the truth, suss out contradictions in stories and find clues to find the true culprit and stay alive.

13 L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire gives players the whole experience of being in a Hollywood crime drama. Set in Los Angeles in the late '40s, players control Cole Phelps as he solves cases and rises through the ranks of the LAPD. Players get locations to search for clues and suspects to interrogate.

When interrogating characters, players can choose the option "truth/doubt/lie" (changes to good cop/bad cop/accuse in the remastered version) in response to suspects' answers. They receive a musical cue in-game telling them if they made the right choice.

12 Kathy Rain

Kathy Rain is a newer addition to the classic point-and-click adventure game, which shows the genre is still alive. Players control Kathy Rain, a journalism major in the '90s. Kathy returns to her hometown after her grandfather passes and stays to investigate the mysterious nature of his passing.

The game has a rich story, enjoyable puzzles, and several exciting and compelling characters. Kathy is the most compelling, and the player discovers more about her troubled past as they uncover the mysteries surrounding Conwell Springs.

11 Sam & Max Hit The Road

Another enjoyable point-and-click game is Sam & Max Hit the Road. This retro game draws from the 1989 comic characters Sam and Max, two freelance detectives who are a dog and a hyperactive rabbit. Players control Sam and Max as they investigate the disappearance of a bigfoot from a carnival.

The duo travels around to different Americana-themed tourist sites searching for clues to find the elusive bigfoot. It's wacky, and many of the puzzles have weird solutions, but it all fits the cartoon setting and makes for a more light-hearted detective game.

10 Hypnospace Outlaw

Have you ever wondered what it's like to work as an internet content monitor? Well, in Hypnospace Outlaw, you do just that. This game envelops you in the world of a fictional internet from the '90s that people enter through their sleep. Yes. It is just as trippy as it sounds.

However, while the setting is trippy, the gameplay feels familiar. Cases will have you scour various sections of this snooze network, searching for copyright infringements, depictions of illegal actions, unsavory financial transactions, etc. Still, you'll likely get drawn in by the game's unique art style, which oozes pixelated nostalgia!

9 Chinatown Detective Agency

If dystopian crime-stopping is more your speed, you'll love Chinatown Detective Agency. This heart-racing crime drama follows P.I. Amira Darma as she travels the world following a trail of a deep-rooted conspiracy.

The standout feature of CDA is its emphasis on outside research to solve puzzles. For instance, the game requires you to search for various trivia on the internet to make informed decisions. Some gamers may even recognize influence from the Carmen Sandiego PC games of yore, from CDA's gameplay to its pixelated art style.

8 The Council

If you're a fan of visual novels or games with branching endings, such as TellTale Games' catalog, you will enjoy The Council. This monumental adventure puts you in the shoes of occultist Louis de Richet as he travels to a private island searching for his mother, Sarah.

If you're a history buff, you will get a kick out of the bizarre, almost fanfiction story featuring the likes of George Washington, Napoléon Bonaparte, and Johan Von Wöllner, to name a few. Additionally, the game adds a unique feature to the genre, with skills that affect Louis's dialogue options in conversation. Top these traits off with a rabbit hole of bizarre secrets, including daemons, and this game becomes a must-play.

7 The Wolf Among Us

The Wolf Among Us mixes fairytales and fables with the dark and grittiness of crime dramas. Based on the Fables comic book series, The Wolf Among Us takes place in a community called Fabletown, inhabited by many characters depicted in folklore and fairytales.

Players control the sheriff of Fabletown, Bigby, who was formerly the Big Bad Wolf, as he investigates a homicide. Players can find critical objects to the story and interact with NPCs. Dialogue choices can have positive or negative effects on how Bigby is perceived and influence the route of the game.

6 The Ace Attorney Series

Objection! The Ace Attorney game series is too good to ignore! This series has run strong since 2001, chronicling the adventures of various lawyers, like Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justice, as they gather evidence to exonerate innocent clients of heinous crimes.

The newest installation in the series, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, is a prequel set in Victorian-era Japan and England. Various publications praised this arch, citing its funny writing, memorable characters, brain-teasing gameplay, and brilliant story-telling.

5 Batman: Arkham Asylum

While Batman is a superhero, he's also Gotham City's greatest detective. In Arkham Asylum, players take control of Batman as he faces the Joker in his plot to take over Arkham Asylum and trap Batman inside as he wreaks havoc throughout Gotham.

Players use Batman's stealth, combat skills, and gadgets to aid him in missions. The game even has a Detective Mode that turns the screen blue and highlights things of interest, like interactive objects, enemy status, and more. Detective Mode's findings can help solve puzzles and find clues.

4 Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishment

Of course, a list of the best detective games wouldn't be complete without a Sherlock Holmes mention! And one of the best modern Sherlock Holmes games is Crimes & Punishment. Inspired by the original stories, players guide Sherlock through six different cases.

Each case has a thrilling plot, from homicide to thefts to missing person cases. Players can use Sherlock's fourteen investigation skills to find clues, deduce motives and interrogate suspects. And each case has multiple solutions and even more endings, with the choices a player makes affecting Sherlock's reputation and fate.

3 The Vanishing Of Ethan Carter

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a first-person horror game that puts the player's deductive reasoning and investigation skills to the test. Players take control of Paul Prospero, a detective specializing in the occult.

A letter from a boy named Ethan Carter sends him to Red Creek Valley, Ethan's home, and the sight of more than one homicide catches his attention. Players use Paul's ability to communicate with the dead and their observation skills to find clues and figure out the dark secret of Red Creek Valley and the fate of Ethan.

2 AI: The Somnium Files

We addressed an internet dreamscape with Hypnospace Outlaw, but what about adventuring in actual dreams!? In AI: The Somnium Files, players take on the role of Kaname Date and his AI partner as they investigate subconsciouses for answers to a grizzly murder.

AI: The Somnium Files draws from the talents of the same minds behind the Zero Escape series. In turn, the game features branching storylines based on decisions made in-game. Furthermore, the somnium sequences explore bizarre worlds where answers lie in metaphors, and every action is time-specific. This gameplay creates a challenging and rewarding experience.

1 Her Story

Her Story is an intriguing and unique take on detective games. Players will feel like they genuinely are a detective working on a case as the game's visuals look like an old desktop at a police station.

Players get tasked with solving the fictional case of a missing man by searching through a database of police interviews. The interviews focus on the missing person's wife. Players have to use their deductive reasoning to determine if she's innocent or responsible for his disappearance.

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