Mysterium is a game that takes the concept of Dixit (see the Looking at Dixit blog post) of using abstract art cards to tell a story and gamifies it further by using it as a tool for a whodunnit murder mystery.
In this game you are either the ghost of the recently deceased or a medium trying to find out what happened. This is done by the ghost giving the mediums visions (the abstract art cards) to help them identify who, where and what murdered them. The only issue is that the ghost has amnesia and can’t clearly remember so is telling each medium a different set of answers.
Each round the ghost hands out art cards to the mediums, then turns over the sand timer. The mediums then can work together to figure out the clues. Once they’ve decided they put their crystal ball token on the person they’ve guessed and the other players can vote on whether they think it’s right or wrong. If it’s right the player moves up to the next level. The lowest level is person, then it’s room, then it’s weapon.
If the other players correctly stated someone was right or wrong they get to move along the clairvoyance track which will give them extra chances during the end game.
Once 7 rounds have passed if there’s anyone who hasn’t identified all three things then they have all lost the game. If they’ve all identified their 3 the ghost then picks one of the medium’s set of clues as the correct one and gives 1-3 art cards to help them figure out which set it is. The players all vote on which set they think it is and if the majority are correct they win.
It is a very fun game and successfully makes more of a game out of Dixit. It does have its drawbacks however, the theme can be troubling but I’ll talk more about that in the scripture section and the set up time is quite long. It also works best with people you know as they understand how your mind works when giving clues. This doesn’t mean it’s any less fun with a group of strangers, just harder for the ghost to give clues.
Questions to explore character
- What do you think happens after you die?
- Do you believe in psychic abilities? Why?
- Do you think all mediums are telling the truth?
- Why do you think ‘mediums’ wouldn’t tell the truth? (What do they gain from it?)
- How does that make you feel?
Links to faith
This game is a complicated one for Christians. We are explicitly told not to consult with mediums or necromancers throughout the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Leviticus 19:31 and 20:6 for instance) so what’s good about this game that is all about mediums and talking to the dead?
For a start it’s a game. It’s fantasy and isn’t real. You aren’t actually speaking to ghosts or having visions. It’s a theme that fits the mechanic and to be honest I can’t think of many other ways to theme this game.
After that, for me it’s 2 things. The first is that it showcases mediums as charlatans as they most often are by making fun of them. All the ‘medium’ players are finding completely different answers from one another for the same situation, and though the game does explain that away as the ghost having amnesia it’s actually a fairly accurate portrayal of how so called mediums would be. Those who hold large shows/events to make money from it are clutching at straws and using their abilities to pick up subtle tells from people to figure out what to say. They capitalise on people’s grief to make money, because they know people never want to lose their loved ones.
Which brings me to the second point. As Christians we also hate losing our loved ones. It is painful, terrifying and upsetting, however we have one thing other people don’t. We have hope. Hope given to us by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus. He died for our sons to allow us to enter heaven and live forever at God’s side. We know that there is life after death because we have His promise of eternal life, so we know we will see our lost loved ones again in Heaven.
This game is great for talking with people about what their beliefs are about the afterlife and being able to share the hope we have with them. So if you can bring yourself to look beyond the theme it is well worth having in your collection for that reason alone.
Links to buy
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Game images courtesy of Libellud