Welcome to a Gathering of the World’s Best Spiritualists
Your purpose is to channel the spirit of a murdered man and determine who the culprit is. Mysterium is a lot like Clue, except way better. If you’ve ever played Dixit before, then you should also feel at home with how the game works. You’ll be transfixed by the hauntingly beautiful artwork and murder mystery that is set before you. Can you solve the murder before it’s too late?
If you didn’t know, this game has been featured on Will Wheaton’s table top gaming show, TableTop. If you’d like to learn the rules and see a game played with celebrity guests, I suggest watching the video that I’ll leave below. TableTop is a great resource if you want to learn about a game and see some folks play it. It’s not as detail oriented as Watch it Played’s YouTube channel, but it’s definitely entertaining and a great way to get into table top gaming.
As I mentioned in at the start of this review, Mysterium is a clever combination of Clue and Dixit. The major difference is that this game is cooperative, where the others are not. In addition to this, Mysterium is overflowing with theme. It’s also pretty easy to enhance the game with some ambient candle light and gentle séance music. The game would be a lot less captivating if it weren’t for this fact, only being added to by the stunning artwork.
The picture cards are the main focus of the game, but even the supplementary (and largely unnecessary) components are far superior in quality than a game like this ever gets. The little crystal balls for the players feel, and look, great. Even the cardboard components are better than expected.
One component stands out above the rest though, and that would be the shield for the ghost player. Not only does it look really good, it also serves a vital function. Most games like this would just have you hide a grid of cards on the table and provide a thin, and flimsy, barrier. In Mysterium’s case, you get a hefty shield with inserts for the entire card grid. It can even be folded and set down if a break is needed mid-game without risking other players seeing information they shouldn’t.
I’ve never seen a game like Mysterium before in this regard. Sure, the mechanical aspects of the game aren’t unique but you can tell the designers and publishers of the game understood what gamers would want in something like this. Higher quality components don’t always feel necessary in games, and they are rarely ever functional. In the case of Mysterium this isn’t the case. You could argue that a few of the bits in the box aren’t really necessary, but a good majority of it is integral to making the game feel good and play well.
Now this does come at a bit of a premium, but it is definitely worth the asking price of just over $40. You get a great game that plays 2-7 people that is simple enough for kids and adults to play. Not to mention how visually appealing everything is on, and off, the shelf. It has the subjective fun feeling provided by a light party game while still provoking thoughtful strategy and conversation due to its cooperative nature.
Mysterium is at its best when its player count is somewhere between 4 and 6 players. At two players I wouldn’t even bother and when you get close to seven you risk dragging things on a bit too long. Of course, with any game like this, your experience can be ruined if you have a bad ghost. If the person playing the ghost is bad at their job, then Mysterium isn’t going to be as much fun as it should be.
That being said, this was taken into consideration and there are variant rules that make things easier if needed. Conversely, if your group is finding the game too easy, they can enact the more extreme rule sets for a challenging experience. Either way, it doesn’t feel bad to lose a game of Mysterium due to the progression that inevitably happens from round to round. Each step toward victory feels great while setbacks and a loss feels like you were soooooooooo close.
Mysterium currently has one expansion which provides more cards. In a game like this, that’s the best kind of expansion. If you can afford to pick it up, I’d say it is a must-buy. There is another expansion slated for release sometime this month that will introduce some new mechanics but I can’t speak to its quality. If I had to guess though, I’d say it’ll be a real winner.
As always, I suggest purchasing the game from Coolstuff if Mysterium interests you. Buying here saves you more and more money each time they buy and they offer free shipping at orders over $100 in the US. Board games cost A LOT to ship so it ends up being a great offer on top of the already super low (like seriously, they are almost never beat in pricing) price and added discounts if you create a free account. Mysterium is $42.49 before discounts with each expansion going for just over $25. Of course, you can find this game from other retailers but you’ll end up paying a bit more.
What are your thoughts on Mysterium? Let me know in the comments below. If you enjoyed this article be sure to tell me and consider checking out my Patreon while you’re at it. The support is greatly appreciated. Just click the button below for more info. Thanks again for reading and I hope to see you back here at Jon Spencer Reviews real soon!