How Long are Murder Mystery Games?

monster themed murder mystery

Welcome, fellow sleuths!  Once again, the game's afoot…we have a victim, we have a weapon, we have a room fall of guests, and one of you is a murderer. Discover the identity of the murderer before the party ends.

A murder mystery game is excellent entertainment for gathering friends and family,  themed-party, or office party or team-building exercise. Players must solve a mystery, usually murder but not exclusively, by the end of the evening or event.

So, how long are murder mystery games? A typical murder mystery games between 4 – 20 players usually takes between 1.5 – 3 hours and is generally divided into rounds. The variation between different murder mystery games is dependent on the types of game, whether the game is virtual or real life, and dependent on the breaks between round to account for food and beverage breaks.  

So, put dust off those tweed deerstalker hats, get your magnifying glasses ready, and read more about murder mystery games.

You may also be interested in How to host a real-life murder mystery dinner.


What is the length of an at-home murder mystery game?  

As a murder mystery game host, you control the pace and the length of the murder mystery party. Most games usually go for at least more than hours, but as it is also a party, you need to factor in arrival times, food and beverage breaks and general party mayhem and fun!

The type of murder mystery will also impact the game’s timing. Generally, scripted murder mystery parties are shorter than interactive murder mystery games. Unless your script is 100 pages long, you will find that your guests will go through it quickly.  Interactive murder mystery games require your guests to mingle themselves and gather the information, re you need to a lot for the time.

At Masters of Mystery, our murder mystery games are broken up into three rounds that are roughly 30-45 minutes.  You should try and give your players breaks for food, drinks, and more general mingling between each round. There is also allotted time for the voting, the unveiling of the murderer, and any prizes are awarding.

murder mystery gameplay

Remember that while it is fun for hosts to draw out games, you want to maintain your guests' interests for as long as possible. Also, if your guests are drinking alcohol, make sure they can still make deductions by the time it comes to vote – it’s fun for everyone. 

How long does it take to organise a murder mystery party?

Halloween murder mystery theme and preparation

The answer to this question is subjective – it can depend on several factors such as the host’s confidence, the guest list, the venue, and how much detail you want to put into making the night the way you envision. 

Impromptu murder mystery parties are undoubtedly possible. Some murder mystery game kits are available for instant play. Many kits are downloadable and will require either printout or sending players their character booklets online.   

We recommend giving your guests at least 24-hour notice before you surprise them with a murder mystery party. This allows you to download and read through the necessary information and send them their character booklets with their assigned roles.

While we admire people who can throw a party at such short notice, most of us at Masters of Mystery are planers, and even if we surprise our guests with a murder mystery game night, we have planned the party well in advance.

In preparation for your murder mystery party, here is a list of things you will need to organise:

  • Find a murder mystery game kit.
  • Send invites
  • Choose a date and time – rescheduling happens a lot
  • Collect and sort RSVP’s
  • Assign roles
  • Send out the character books
  • Shopping for the party – find themed partyware
  • Find costumes
  • Decorate your house depending on the theme
  • Creating a menu

The above items are just some examples that may appear on a host’s murder mystery checklist. While some are not crucial to the game itself, most are essential for planning a smooth murder mystery party.

At Masters of Mystery, we recommend planning these home events at least two weeks in advance, which allow you to also play with dates if there are conflict issues with your guests. For corporate murder mystery games, a month’s pre-planning can be helpful, especially as you a likely to be coordinating with more than one host and larger groups. 

How long are Dinner Theatre Murder Mystery games?  

dinner theatre murder mystery

Professional dinner theatre murder mystery games are experiences worth having, and we love them! There is usually a set dinner menu at a venue, either rented for the evening or theatre restaurant especially designed.

Most Dinner theatre murder mystery events cater for two or three-course meal, followed or interspersed between a 2-hour live show. There are more minor interactions between the guests – maybe one or two people may receive some special attention, but otherwise, you are mostly seated at tables where you eat your meal.

Expect to be at the event for three to three and a half hours! And don’t forget to enjoy yourselves!

How long are Virtual Murder Mystery Games?

1920s online virtual murder mystery game

Virtual murder mystery games, also knowns as online murder mystery games or virtual murder mystery parties, follow the same gameplay as in-person murder mystery games. However, some differences can affect the length of the games. Some online game versions last as long as one hour; others will go as long as three to four hours.

Some experienced murder mystery players may find the online version take longer than the real-life versions – this is normal. As an online murder mystery host, you need to account for the technical difficulties, and guests technical difficulties and internet connections.

The liaising and mingling parts of a murder mystery game, where everyone shares their characters' information and discusses evidence, may take a lot longer, especially if you are doing it as part of a large group the share screen.

Some people suggest using breakout rooms, which is easy to set up on Zoom and Discord. Breakout rooms allow your guests to break off into private video conferencing areas to chat – mimicking more of a real-life murder mystery situation. They can also use private chat functions to interact with each other privately and keep the game going quicker.  

When you plan a virtual murder mystery party, be conscious of online fatigue for you and your guests. It can be exhausting online for an extended period, so we always recommend breaks between rounds for people to go to the bathroom, eat or drink.

Other more experience online players, or hosts and players confident with the online hosting software, may find that the online versions very quick. It can

Read: How to host a virtual murder mystery party.

Masters of Mystery - Murder Mystery Game Kits

Masters of Mystery are the murder mystery kings and queens and offer fun and easy to host murder mystery game kits that come in a range of theme:

Our kits are incredibly versatile and can be played in real life or as Zoom virtual murder mystery games. We love all things mystery and know that you will love our games too!

Read More: 10 Must-Ask Questions to Solve a Murder Mystery Game

Read More: How many people do you need for a murder mystery party?