Ever play Cluedo on a family game night? - Think Cluedo come to life. Murder mystery games are the answer to your family's next game night, themed-party, or office party.
So what is a Murder mystery game? Participants of murder mystery games need to solve a mystery, such as a murder or other crime, in an allotted timeframe. Participants play murder mystery games as a party game, team building activity, or family fun games that are interactive and realistic.
There are different murder mysteries game styles and are often associated with a theme you can choose. Murder Mystery Game Kits are readily available and can be downloadable, meaning you can purchase and play right away.
Here we explain what makes a murder mystery game, murder mystery parties, including themes, and the origins of the murder mystery game:
What is involved in a murder mystery game?
Murder mystery games are fun to spend a weeknight or plan a party around. They are unique to other games as it is highly social and often follows a storyline where participants could play as themselves or assume an assigned persona.
The game aims to solve a murder, or other crime, perpetrated by one of the participants who may or may not be aware of their guilt. In some game styles, the victim or victims is a game player, whose death is only revealed at the game's start. It may also be that the body-count slowly increases as the game continues.
Murder mystery games usually take 1½ –3 hours depending on the number of players, which can be anywhere between 4 to 20+ people.
Other styles of murder mystery games begin with the death of an unknown guest, and the proceeding time is devoted entirely to the investigation and ensuing the culprit. Whatever the style, murder mystery games always contain a "murderer" or "wrongdoer" and a victim.
Murder Mystery Game Versions
The game's aim remains the same; however, different versions offer different detective and sleuthing fun types. Other versions are also better suited to locations, types of parties (sit-down dinners and more interactive parties), and different kinds of players – i.e., team-building exercises for the workplace.
Here is a list of all the different versions of murder mystery games:
Scripted or turn-based murder mystery games have a storyline that releases vital information and clues intentionally throughout the game. The storyline is integral to this version of the murder mystery game as characters learn of their involvement through the plots unfolding. All players will receive scripts to read will be prompted with staged questions.
Interactive Murder Mystery games provide players with details of their characters before or at the game's start. Still, it is up to the player and their persona character to solve the murder with less plot reliance. Often characters have their secrets and objectives which have nothing to do with murder or crime – adds another layer to player interaction.
Video-based or online interactive mystery games use videos to set the scene and offer backstory for the mystery or crime. Videos may also provide clues for players, like witness testimonials or specific evidence found by digital detectives. These games are played individually on the internet or now more popularly played in larger groups on collaborative platforms.
Interviewing suspects or online forum-based Murder mystery games are primarily played online via host invitations. The murderer is privately notified of their guilt and must use the art of deception to deflect blame on others. The detectives, often in teams, must detect dishonesty and expose the murder before the host reveals the identity at the end of each round. These parties can cater to many guests by merely adding more detectives.
Dinner Theatre Murder Mystery games are professionally catered dining events, usually hosted at a venue like hotels and restaurants. A troupe of actors often stage the scene and engage with the audience to solve the mystery. This could be an interactive experience or not.
Flexi Murder Mystery games are simply when the murderer is chosen randomly at the start of the game, usually by drawing a guilty card in secret. Participants are prompted by interviewing other participants, assisted by character sheets and clues. Everyone is a detective and is ideal for a sleuthing enthusiast.
Other Variants to murder mystery games
- Crime variants are prevalent with adapting for children and teen players.
- Some participants are clued into more facts than others or may know the identity of the murderer
- Some games have participants or actors give you hints or hinder the investigation– similar to escape rooms.
- Storyline' plot twists', such as a secondary murder or a late intruder
- Scavenger hunts
- Extra puzzles or riddles to solve
Workplace murder mystery games also facilitate good team building and bonding events as players form teams to solve the murder. They are also a great source of corporate entertainment for social work gatherings such as office Christmas parties and other work functions.
Interactive murder mystery games are the most popular version for office and Church group team building environments. The nature of the game fosters good communication skills and relationship-building opportunities.
What is a murder mystery dinner party?
A murder mystery party is where entertainment is the murder mystery game, and guests will try to solve the murder before the party ends. Murder mystery party hosts may choose to participate in the game as unknowing detectives or act as game facilitators. Many murder mystery parties allow the guests to assume characters or personas related to the game's theme.
Murder mystery parties gained popularity in the '90s as interactive party games. The two most commonly used game versions of the murder mystery home parties are:
- Scripted or turn-based murder mystery games
- Interactive Murder Mystery games
Scripted murder mystery parties were trendy party games in the 90s. The guests are usually booklets or scripts that contain character information, introductory statements, questions, clues, answers, or dialogue exchanges between other characters' guests. There are often instructions and suggested timings for each of these scripted exchanges. This type of game is better suited to a formal sit down dinner party as guest mingling is less required. This type of murder mystery is less popular today, as traditional dinner parties are lesser.
In interactive murder mystery parties, there is more freedom and interaction between the guests. The party has some structure as guests are provided with character backgrounds and confidential information often before their arrival. The host can assign gendered or gender-neutral roles and characters according to their knowledge of the guests.
A fun addition to these parties is secret information or secondary objectives held by each of the guests about their character – giving rise to more general sleuthing from your guests. Unlike scripted versions, dinner is more suited to finger foods, buffet-style, or grazing platters as the guests need to be encouraged to talk and mingle more freely.
The parties' setup usually falls on the host and can be simple or elaborate. Some hosts create their murder mystery parties, while others choose to use specific themed-murder mystery game kits.
There are many themes that hosts can choose from for their party. Some themes adopt specific periods, seasonal holidays, or are book or movie inspired. The host may choose to set up their party using the theme, developing theme-inspired menus, drinks, decorations, party games, and awards.
Some common themes for murder mystery parties are:
- 1920s themed (Roaring 20's)
- 1980s themed
- Wizarding-themed (Harry Potter- inspired)
- Wild West Cowboy-themed
- Casino themed
- Phantom of the Opera (Masquerade) themed
Guests often attend the party in theme-inspired costumes or as their assigned characters.
Murder Mystery Games Kits
You can purchase Murder mystery game kits as a box set or downloadable versions. Expansion packs are also available for large-sized groups and murder mystery parties.
Masters of Mystery Murder game Kits include:
- Evidence Packs
- Character Booklets
- Game Ballot
- Costume Suggestions
Frequently asked Questions
Apart from murder, what other types of mysteries are available for murder mystery games?
Murder is the most common form of mystery that frames murder mystery games. Other crimes include theft, kidnapping, or defrauding a guest—other murder mystery games center around supernatural occurrences or suspicious disappearances rather than an actual crime.
Can you play murder mystery games more than once?
Some murder mystery game kits provide multiple murder scenarios, which means you can replay the game again with different murderers. This is especially common in interactive murder mystery games and video-based murder mystery game versions. Other murder mystery kits offer only one game.