WBG Score: 7.5/10
Player Count: 2-6
You'll like this if you like: The Chameleon, Mysterium, Cluedo
Published by Lucky Duck Games
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You're dead. That's a blow and I'm not going to pretend otherwise. But maybe your friends can find out how your perished to avenge your death?
Oh, My Love.
Hyped up as one of the big launches from Essen Spiel 2019, Paranormal Detectives certainly lived up to the excitement for me. It is one of the best party games I’ve ever played, and I’ve certainly enjoyed a lot of them!
The game is simple. You are dead. Ok, that’s a bad start. But fear not! There is a group of determined detectives here to avenge your murder. Oh, and handily, as they have paranormal abilities. If you are looking for a party game with a familiar feel that is simple to learn and teach while also crazy fun to play, then look no further.
I’ve hungered for your touch.
In the box is a selection of hilarious tools used to communicate with the detectives to offer clues. They are looking to find out the five key elements of the story: Who killed the ghost? How? Where were they killed? Why? With what were they killed? Each scenario has a hilarious backstory for the ghost to base their answers on. The detective who guesses all fuve keys right first wins with the ghost. If no one gets all five, then whoever got the most first with their previous two guesses is the winner but the ghost loses. They do put a limit on the amount of guess you can make as the detective. However, we removed that rule as a house variant. It’s a bit like Just One. You don’t want to discourage the detectives from having a guess at the five keys from fear of getting it wrong.
As the ghost you have nine ways to communicate ranging from using tarot cards and a ouija board, to drawing shapes on the detective’s backs (if both players are ok with a bit of touching). You can also rearrange two bits of cord into shapes to offer a hint to help solve the case. There is even an opportunity to silently mouth one word, a three-second mime or make a single sound as a clue. The single sound cannot be a word and often ends as a confusing but very comical scream that has all players in fits of laughter, left more confused than before, detectives often ask “Can I hear that again, please?!”
There are 28 cases in the box with even more on a free app. We have also played by just making up our own story, which is equally fun! The game is not limited like others in this genre. You can't really play the same case again with the same group of people, but it can be fun to replay a case as the ghost with a new recruitment of detectives. It’s fun to see how different friends work towards each case. And then of course judging them against your previous friends’ performances!
Time goes by so slowly
The game does start off slow, but quickly becomes a frantic race to be the first to correctly guess all five keys. Especially if you have lifted the restriction on how many guesses each player can have.
You can either play competitively or cooperatively, which determines both your question and how the ghost answers, as all players can watch and listen to most clues. For us, we found cooperatively is far more entertaining as the detectives can then debate and speculate the meaning and interpretation of the ghost clues. Otherwise, it gets a llittle silent, which for a party game doesn’t work for me. In the cooperative version it's nothing short of hilarious to listen to a detective suggest what they saw as one thing, only for it to be something entirely differnet. Yes, this merriment can lead to more clues for the detective, as they realise from the ghost's cruel and mocking laughter that they may be a little wide of the mark! But in the15 odd games we have played, we have only ever had all five keys guessed correctly once, so I wouldn’t worry about that. And in co-op, you all want to get all five keys right, so why not make it that little bit easier.
Out of the methods of interaction, the quill pen is my stand out. The detective holds the pen, the ghost holds the detective’s hand and then tries to draw a clue in one continuous line. As the ghost, when drawing a clue detailing why you were killed, if the answer is something like Inattention, try not to laugh as the detectives interpret whatever it is you decide to draw!
Time can do so much
In every game I have played the detectives always feel lost in the first half of the game. There are five keys to solve and it is extremely unlikely to get them from the first clue. The detectives probably won’t have any idea what the first few clues even mean. This can be disheartening if you don’t explain this to new players. But trust me, it will click. Add the clues together, learn from each other’s answers from the ghost when possible, and try to find the consistencies. Maybe that pizza the ghost drew on your back has something to do with the shield on the tarot cards. Oh no, hang on! It was a dinner plate! You were killed by a dinner plate? Wait, what?
Take notes but don’t worry about solving the five keys too soon. This is not a one-turn game. It takes 45 minutes to play and you should not expect to beat the system sooner. You cannot just take a punt like in Cluedo, you need to do some detective work here, and the fun comes from that. Enjoy the process and the laughter that comes from misinterpreted clues, and ultimately, the satisfaction from figuring out it wasn’t a dinner plate after all, it was a stone!
Are you Still Mine?
This game won’t be for everyone, but if you like party games, then you will enjoy it a lot. If you want to be the centre of attention, loud and crazy, be the ghost. If you want to watch someone else do that and test out your deduction skills, be the detective. It works for most player types this way, and I have found it as much fun to watch as it is to play. For the price, there is a lot of game here, and although it employs some previously seen methods such as a bit of charades and pictionary, it’s all with a little twist and within a deeply engrossing theme that makes this experience feel unique to most casual gamers and fun for more experienced players looking for a lighter game. If you like a riddle, or murder mystery, or just laughing at your family and friends doing silly things, this game has a lot of happiness in the box. It is family friendly too. They have cards specific for younger audiences, or as an adult, be the ghost and edit as you see fit. As such I would highly recommend this as a perfect filler or party game suitable for most gaming groups who don’t mind a bit of movement and light-hearted interaction! And if anyone gets the weapon right in case 27, you have my life long respect!