Playtime: 30-60 Minutes
I love a good deduction game. Some of our favorite games on here (Like the fantastic Mantis Falls) are based around deduction mechanics. Paranormal Detectives is a deduction game in which the players work together to solve a murder. One player acts as the ghost of the deceased while the others play as detectives able to communicate with the dead. The catch is that the ghost can’t simply answer the questions with words.
The game has a simple flow, allowing players to learn the game quickly. This is ideal since Paranormal Detectives is a social party game at heart. A turn is easy enough to handle: The detective asks a question, gives the ghost a way to communicate, then listen to the answer. After the answer, if the detective is confident that they know the story of the ghost’s death, they will explain what happened. If the detective figures out who was the killer, where did it happen, what was the motive, how was it done and what was the murder weapon, they win. If not, play continues until someone figures it out or every detective uses up every method of communication in their hand.
Paranormal Detectives plays a lot like Mysterium but seems to have taken the mechanics that were in place in the older game and refined them. The detective players can ask the ghost player any question as long as the answer isn’t simply “Yes” or “No.” The game encourages creativity for all players. The detectives can ask just about anything if they think it will help them solve the case. The ghost will need to find clever ways to answer the questions. When the detective asks a question, they hand the ghost a card from their hand with instructions. For example, one card might instruct the ghost to answer the question through sound or tarot cards. Other cards require them to use a spirit board or pen and paper.
Paranormal Detectives is pretty casual and requires players to always be engaged. The game is highly interactive and even when it isn’t your turn, you will want to stay tuned in for the other detective’s questions. Throughout the game, players will be taking notes as they piece the death together. There are plenty of scenarios for the ghost to choose from, leading to a lot of diversity. Paranormal Detectives also has a companion app with more ghostly stories, adding to the longevity of the game.
Paranormal Detectives shines best during the second half of the game as players figure everything out. Of course, players don’t know what information the others have correct, so guessing how the murder took place comes with the risk of helping another player’s light bulb going off. Players also only get two attempts to explain the story, so they need to make sure that they have a decent idea the first time and a firm grasp for the second attempt. The pressure also mounts on the ghost who will want to find new ways to answer questions that the detectives might already partially know the answer to.
Despite dealing with death, Paranormal Detectives is fairly light-hearted. Most of the crime scenes aren’t too adult outside of dealing with murder. A few scenarios do have drug references and sexually explicit situations, but those are marked with a parental advisory warning. Aside from these few crime scenes, this is a safe game for older children to participate in.
Paranormal Detectives matches its fantastic gameplay with a great aesthetic. Everything from the board to the inserts and components look great. They are full of lighthearted art that plays on common mystery and horror tropes. It’s a game that’s both fun to play and easy to look at it.
For fans of social/party deduction games, it’s hard to do much better than Paranormal Detectives. The creativity of players will be tested throughout, and the race against other players (While still using them for information) is thrilling. Fans of the genre will want to add this surprise hit to their collection.
Paranormal Detectives is a creative, engaging experience that represents the best of the genre. This is a must-have for fans of deduction games.