You don’t need to wait until a thunderstorm hits late one evening to get spooked playing these eerie mystery games, though lightning and thunder would surely add to the ambiance. Whether you want to become a detective and solve a murder mystery solo or join a team to crack challenging puzzles and collect clues, there is a perfect mystery board game for everyone.
We researched the best options, considering the recommended age, number of players, and content themes of each.
Here, the best mystery board games available online for kids and adults.
Ravensburger Scotland Yard
Takes deductive reasoning
Great for large groups
Instructions are a bit misleading
In Ravensburger's Scotland Yard, you and your teammates will start competing against each other to see who gets to be the dastardly Mr. X—and be chased all over London, err the board game, trying to escape the detectives. The detectives will need to work together to block his escape routes, but just when you think you have it all figured out, Mr. X disappears for a round.
Travel by tube, bus, and foot to try to block Mr. X's path on the intricate game board featuring different routes and paths across the busy city. Players must use deductive reasoning and problem-solving skills to think like a detective (or a criminal) and reach their goals. Since many of the players work together, this board game works best with a large group, but note that younger players may need a bit of extra help to get started.
Price at time of publish: $40
Number of Players: 3-6 | Duration: 30 minutes | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
Best for Families
Hunt A Killer Nancy Drew - Mystery at Magnolia Gardens
Includes physical evidence and documents
Suitable for solo players or groups
Low replay value
The iconic murder mystery board game, Hunt A Killer, has teamed up with Nancy Drew to solve a brand new mystery and needs your help. A potential positioning has occurred at Magnolia Gardens and you must sort through case evidence, testimonials, and more to develop a timeline and crack the case. Because there's no maximum player limit, we love this option for family game nights. It's equally fun for teens and adults and can result in some great bonding time. After you've solved the case, be sure to check out other Hunt A Killer variations for yet another challenge.
Price at time of publish: $30
Number of Players: 1+ | Duration: 60-90 minutes | Recommended Age: 14 years and up
Unsolved Case Files Cold Case Murder Mystery Game
Suitable for one player
Good option for long gameplay
Hints available if needed
Some users found the clues hard to read or contained spoilers
Be forewarned: Once you start this murder mystery game you’ll have sleepless nights in your future as you try to solve the unsolved case of who killed high school student Jamie Banks nearly 30 years ago. To uncover the truth, you’ll need to solve three different mysteries surrounding her death first using the case files of the original detective which include photographs, newspaper clippings, and more. Once you think you know the answers, you check your theory against the online answer key. You can play the game alone, with a team, as a stay-at-home date night, or even as part of a murder mystery party.
The linear format makes it easy to know that you're on the right track, which is more streamlined than other case file mystery games. This offers players a clearer path when beginning and may be a better introduction to this type of games for beginners. Some found certain clues to be misleading or that they even contained spoilers, which just adds to this pick's fun challenge.
Price at time of publish: $27
Number of Players: 1 or more | Duration: 2-3 hours | Recommended Age: 14 years and up
Best for Adults
Grey Fox Games Deception: Murder in Hong Kong
Easy to follow instructions
Suitable for large parties
Suitable for various ages
Some roles are more fun than others
In this fast-paced game, one player is the murderer who gets to choose their weapon and the clues they leave behind, another is a forensic scientist, and the rest of the players are investigators. The object of the game is to identify the killer and the murder weapon, while the murderer (naturally) seeks to evade detection—and the end of the game. We love that a round can be completed in as quickly as 20 minutes and that it’s a little different every time which makes it the perfect party game. Players embody a different role with every round, contributing to this pick's high replay value. Plus, it combines the benefits of competitive and cooperative games with your group and mission constantly altering.
Price at time of publish: $50
Number of Players: 4-12 | Duration: 20-30 minutes | Recommended Age: 14 years and up
Asmodee Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective: Jack the Ripper & West End Adventures
Perfect for Sherlock Holmes fans
Suitable for one player
Game ends after solving all mysteries
Take a step back in a time machine to the cobblestone, gaslight lamp-lit streets of London to help the police at Scotland Yard solve a series of crimes. The game comes with 10 mysteries to solve that get progressively harder. You can play the game solo or with a group, but note that some say that playing the game with more than two people can make the game unnecessarily complicated. While the game is challenging, the map and newspaper should be scoured as they contain helpful clues. Only complaint: Once you’ve solved all ten mysteries, there aren’t any new ways to play the game.
Price at time of publish: $46
Number of Players: 1-8 | Duration: 90 minutes | Recommended Age: 12 years and up
Best for a Group
Perfect for groups
In Asmodee's Mysterium, you and up to six players will need to work together to solve the ghastly murder that took place at Warwick Manor, a haunted mansion full of ghosts. You’ll collaborate as you all compete against the clock to figure out the murderer, the murder weapon, and the location of the tragic killing as the psychics try to correctly interpret the ethereal visions the ghost sends as communication during a seance. We recommend that players who are new to the game start out as the ghost until they get the hang of things. Be prepared for a long setup process with this pick, but it's worth it for the fun that awaits during gameplay.
Price at time of publish: $44
Number of Players: 2-7 | Duration: 45 minutes | Recommended Age: 14 years and up
Pressman There's Been a Murder- A Collaborative Card Game of Death and Deduction
Easy to follow instructions
Can take a few rounds before developing strategy
There has been a murder and your team needs to work together to solve in this collaborative card game. Players use the action and effect cards to follow the prompts and find clues to try and pinpoint the murderer. All players are working together and get an overall score based on how many cards are left in the deck after the case is solved. Play, again and again, to try and beat your score at your next murder mystery party for adults or teens. Unlike other games surrounding solving a murder, There's Been A Murder has a high replay value, with a different player holding the murdered card with different strategies every time. However, it may take a few rounds to develop a useful strategy in this game.
Price at time of publish: $15
Number of Players: 3-8 | Duration: Not listed | Recommended Age: 14 years and up
Professor Puzzle Escape from the Grand Hotel Game
Takes deductive reasoning and problem-solving skills
Great for tweens and teens
Some players found the puzzles too easy
Bring an escape room right to your living room with Professor Puzzles' Escape from the Grand Hotel Game. Two or more players will travel through the hotel attempting to solve puzzles and clues to escape from the eerie lodgings. The game contains nine envelopes each containing a different puzzle to crack. Use deductive reasoning and problem-solving skills to solve them all. Some seasoned adults may find the mysteries too easy to solve, making this a perfect pick for younger tweens and teens to test their skills. While there are only nine mysteries to solve, there are six other escape-themed card games from Professor Puzzle to keep the fun going. While this game can accommodate a large group, we love this option as a two-player challenge, perfect for date nights or best friends.
Price at time of publish: $29
Number of Players: 2 or more | Duration: Not listed | Recommended Age: 12 years and up
Avalon Hill Betrayal At House On The Hill
Lots of opportunities to replay
Design your own gameboard
Dark themes may not be suitable for all players
In this spooky mystery game, you must first work with two to five other players to build the house of horrors, then you try to escape it...alive. With rooms like a creaky hallway, a bloody room, and ten others in the house on the hill, plus 50 possible spooky scenarios ranging from the house that’s falling apart to creepy omens, the game is different every time you play it. One of the players will ultimately become a traitor, and the haunt—and real fun—begins. The game changes with every round and group of players and there are expansion packs available for further diversity in gameplay. The instructions are extremely simple to learn and teach, but note that some of the themes and imagery may be a bit too scary for young kids.
Price at time of publish: $42
Number of Players: 3-6 | Duration: 60 minutes | Recommended Age: 12 years and up
Best for Kids
Gamewright Outfoxed! Game
Great for kids
High quality board and pieces
Who stole Mrs. Plumpert’s prized pot pie? Kids will have to work their way around the board to gather clues as to who the guilty culprit is working together every step of the way. This cooperative family board game helps children learn deductive reasoning skills and is a fun intro to the world of mystery games. Plus, the duration is just the right amount of time to hold the attention of the junior set. It's important to note that this game is mostly luck-based, which means there's less pressure on the kids to make the right decisions, but it may be frustrating when the fate of the game is out of their control.
Price at time of publish: $19
Number of Players: 2-4 | Duration: 20-30 minutes | Recommended Age: 5 years and up
Hasbro Gaming Retro Series Clue 1986 Edition Game
Lots of opportunities for replay
Suitable for young kids
Not much diversity in the characters
This classic whodunit game has been beloved for nearly 35 years and was even turned into a cult-favorite movie of the same name. Up to six players compete to see who can solve the murder mystery: Each player asks a series of questions to solve the murder through process of elimination. Whoever names the murder, location of the murder, and murder weapon correctly first wins. It’s simple enough for children as young as 8 years old to quickly pick up, and it’s fun to take on the persona of Professor Plumb or Miss Scarlett. The only thing we would change about this classic board game is to update it to include BIPOC characters.
Price at time of publish: $19
Number of Players: 3-6 | Duration: 10-60 minutes | Recommended Age: 8 years and up
What to Look for in Mystery Board Games
Perhaps the most factor when determining the best mystery game for your group or family is the recommended age. This ensures that the game is both appropriate in subject matter and challenging enough for the players. Mystery board games often include themes that are not suitable for young kids that can lead to unnecessary nightmares, so it's always important to check the age recommendation before playing.
It's also no fun to play a game that's too easy for your skill set. Thus, adults should look for picks suitable for teens and above, like Asmodee's Mysterium, to ensure an engaging challenge. Luckily, there are games that still involve a thrilling mystery, designed just for kids, such as Gamewright's Outfoxed.
Number of Players
Consider the context in which you want to play your mystery game, whether it be alone on a rainy day or with a large group of friends at a murder mystery party. Different games accommodate different numbers of players. For a large party, we love our best overall pick, Ravensburger's Scotland Yard. The cooperative element allows for more players to join in and work as a team. Most case file-based games like Unsolved Case File's murder mystery game work just as well alone as with a large group. Be sure to check the recommended number of players before purchasing, so it works well with your family or lifestyle.
Oftentimes, mystery games feature dark themes, including ghosts or murder. This can be very unsettling for young kids (or even adults), so it's important to look into the content of a mystery game before diving in. Most game boxes offer a quick description of the game, so you can get a gist of the possibly triggering elements. Some have the word "murder" or "haunted" in the name, which takes away the guesswork. Small kids should look to games made specifically to them to avoid these scary themes, while teens and adults can pick and choose the topics that feel suitable to them. This list features various themes for various ages, so it should be possible to find one perfect for you and your group.
What are murder mystery board games?
A common genre of mystery board games is murder mystery games. These often outline the evidence of a fictional murder that has been committed and tasks players with determining the culprit. These can include case files and documents, or a classic game board and pieces. Murder mystery games are often cooperative and can accomodate a large group or a solo player.
Are mystery games replayable?
This depends on the game. Mystery games centered around solving a case either solo or with a group are often not replayable. However, games where the roles of the players changes, or with a more traditional game board and gameplay often have a high replay value. Even with mystery games that you can't replay multiple times, the brands often feature expansions and additions to continue the fun challenge. It's also fun to regift the cases you have already solved to see if friends and family members can conquer the challenge.
Are mystery games based on real cases?
More mystery board games are not based on real cases. Everything is completely fictional from the names to the crimes. Many do take place in real places and may draw inspiration from a city's landscape. But, when playing crime-solving mystery games, you are not solving a real crime. Some inspiration may be drawn from true crime cases, but the content is meant to be fictional and engaging as a story.
Why Trust the Spruce?
This article was written by Anne Fritz, a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience covering home topics. Previously an editor, her work has appeared in several leading publications. Additional research was done by Julia Fields, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, and the holidays since October 2021. Before that, she covered similar topics including toy reviews, product roundups, expert-focused articles, and more.