What makes a good detective game? A mystery to solve, a set of challenging but still enjoyable puzzles and objectives to complete. In addition, the right atmosphere is essential. Whether the action is set in a 1940s saloon or a more modern urban setting, players should feel as though they are fully immersed in the world in which the mystery unfolds.
It also requires a good detective with whom the players can share a deep experience. The games listed here have all these elements and more. So here they are The best detective games.
Updated May 22, 2023 by Quinton O’Connor: In the past, this list has listed entire series as individual entries, and while we stand by our picks, we’ve decided to narrow things down to the best entry from each. Our goal was to create a more diverse list, and we invite you to check out the other games from each series we mention.
16 Sam & Max hit the road
Another nice point and click game Sam & Max hit the road. This retro game draws from the 1989 comic book characters Sam and Max, two freelance detectives who are a dog and a hyperactive rabbit. Players control Sam and Max as they investigate the disappearance of Bigfoot from the carnival.
The duo travels to various American-themed tourist spots looking for clues to find the elusive Bigfoot. It’s quirky and many of the puzzles have odd solutions, but it all fits the cartoon setting and makes for a more light hearted detective game.
15 Hypnospace Outlaw
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work as an internet content moderator? Well, in Hypnospace Outlaw, you do just that. This game takes you to the world of a a fictional internet from the 90s that people enter through sleep. yes It’s just as trippy as it sounds.
Although the setting is trippy, the gameplay feels familiar. The examples will force you to scour various parts of this snooze network looking for copyright infringements, depictions of illegal acts, unsavory financial transactions, etc. However, you will probably be drawn to the game’s unique art style, which exudes picturesque nostalgia!
14 Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment
Of course, no list of the best detective games would be complete without it A reference to Sherlock Holmes! And one of the best modern Sherlock Holmes games is Crimes and Punishment. Inspired by the original stories, players guide Sherlock through six different cases.
Each case has a thrilling plot, from murders to thefts to missing persons cases. Players can use Sherlock’s fourteen investigative skills to find clues, deduce motives, and interrogate suspects. And each case has multiple solutions and even more endings, with the player’s decisions affecting Sherlock’s reputation and fate.
13 Professor Layton and the Unspoiled Future
The Professor Layton the series shows that not all detective games take place in dark and gritty environments! Although Professor Layton’s character is not a detective, his skill at solving puzzles makes him just as good. In the central plot of the game series, he is tasked with solving mysteries.
Players interact with NPCs, find clues to help them solve puzzles, and learn more about the environment. Solving puzzles is the only way to progress through the game. Each game consists of different puzzle styles such as mazes, puzzles and more.
Our favorite Professor Layton and the pristine future, which is – and you’ll see us say this a few times – simply the strongest at executing what the series is known for.
12 Chinatown Detective Agency
If stopping dystopian crime is more your speed, you’ll love it Chinatown Detective Agency. This heart-pounding crime drama follows PI Amira Darma as her travels the world on the trail of a deep-rooted conspiracy.
A standout feature of CDA is its emphasis on external puzzle-solving research. For example, the game requires you to search the internet for various trivia in order to make informed decisions. Some players may even recognize the influence Carmen Sandiego PC Games a long time ago, from CDA’s gameplay to its pixelated art style.
11 AI: The Dream Files
We’ve covered the internet dreamscape with Hypnospace Outlaw, but what about an adventure in an actual dream!? inside AI: The Dream Filesplayers take on the role of Kaname Date and his AI partner explore the subconscious to find answers to a gruesome murder.
AI: The Somnium Files draws on the talents of the same minds behind the Zero Escape series. On the other hand, the game features branching stories based on the decisions made in the game. In addition, somnium sequences explore bizarre worlds where answers lie in metaphors and every action is time-specific. This gameplay creates a challenging and rewarding experience.
Don’t skip the sequel, AI: The Somnium Files – Nirvana Initiative. It may not be as good overall, but it’s still engrossing and has better protagonists if we’re so brave as to declare it.
Black giving players a complete experience to be in a Hollywood crime drama. Set in Los Angeles in the late 1940s, players control Cole Phelps as he solves cases and rises through the ranks of the LAPD. Players are given locations to search for clues and suspects to interrogate.
When interrogating characters, players can choose a “Truth/Doubt/Lie” option in response to suspects’ answers (Changes to Good Cop/Bad Cop/Accusation in the revamped version). In the game, they receive a musical cue that tells them if they made the right decision.
9 Kathy Rain
Kathy Rain is a newer addition to the classic point-and-click adventure game, proving that the genre is still alive and well. Players control Kathy Rain, a journalism student in the 1990s. After her grandfather’s death, Kathy returns to her hometown and stays to investigate the mysterious nature of his death.
The game has a rich story, enjoyable puzzles and several exciting and attractive characters. Kathy is the most compelling and the player discovers more about her troubled past as they uncover the mysteries surrounding Conwell Springs.
8 The world
If you’re a fan of visual novels or branch-ending games like the TellTale Games catalog, you’ll enjoy it The world. This monumental adventure puts you in the shoes of occultist Louis de Richet as he travels to a private island in search of his mother, Sarah.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll be enthralled by the bizarre, almost fan-fictional story featuring George Washington, Napoléon Bonaparte and Johan Von Wöllner, to name a few. Additionally, the game adds a unique feature to the genre with skills that affect Louis’ conversational dialogue options. Add these features to a rabbit hole of bizarre mysteries, including demons, and this is a must-play game.
7 A wolf among us
A wolf among us mixes fairy tales and fables with the darkness and grit of crime dramas. Based on Fables The Wolf Among Us comic book series takes place in a community called Fabletown, home to many characters depicted in folklore and fairy tales.
Players control the Sheriff of Fabletown, Bigbywhich was before Big Bad Wolf, when he investigates a murder. Players can find critical items for the story and interact with NPCs. Dialogue choices can have positive or negative effects on how Bigby is perceived and affect the flow of the game.
A sequel is in the works. Hell yes.
6 Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
For most, high school was a nightmare, but it is a living nightmare for characters in Danganronpa series. In the first three games, the students are forced to play a cruel game created by the remote-controlled bear Monokuma. To escape their fate, the disciples must take the lives of your classmates without getting caught.
The gameplay is divided into two styles. The first is “School Life”, where the game is like a visual novel. The second is the “Class Test”, where players must find out the truth, unravel the contradictions in the stories and find clues to find the real culprit and stay alive.
What separates the second title, Goodbye Despair, from the rest of the pack is its superb story. There are (arguably) no bad stories in the series, but Goodbye Despair is ironclad.
5 The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
Objection! The Ace Attorney the game series is too good to ignore! This series has been going strong since 2001 and chronicles the adventures of various lawyers, e.g Phoenix Wright and Apollo Justiceas they gather evidence to exonerate innocent parties of heinous crimes.
The latest installment in the series, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles, is a prequel (with two acts) set in Victorian-era Japan and England. Various publications have praised this arc, citing its hilarious writing, memorable characters, brain-teasing gameplay, and brilliant storytelling.
4 Batman: Arkham Asylum
While Batman is a superhero, he is also Gotham City’s greatest detective. inside Arkham Asylumplayers take control Batman as he confronts the Joker in his plan to take over Arkham Asylum and trap Batman as he wreaks havoc across Gotham.
Players use Batman’s stealth, combat skills and gadgets to aid him in his missions. The game even has Detective mode which turns the screen blue and highlights interesting things like interactive items, enemy status and more. Detective mode findings can help solve puzzles and find clues.
For the record, both Arkham City and Arkham Knight, Asylum’s sequels, are worth playing. In fact, critically, Arkham City is the darling of the trilogy. But more and more fans are flocking to the one that started it all, and for good reason.
3 The Disappearance of Ethan Carter
The Disappearance of Ethan Carter is a first-person horror game that puts the player’s deductive reasoning and investigative skills to the test. Players take control Paul Prosperoa detective specializing in the occult.
A letter from a boy named Ethan Carter sends him to Red Creek Valley, Ethan’s home, and a look at more than one murder attracts his attention. Players use Paul’s ability to communicate with the dead and their powers of observation to find clues and discover the dark secret of Red Creek Valley and the fate of Ethan.
2 Her story
Her story is an interesting and unique take on detective games. Players will feel like they are real detectives working on a case, as the game’s visuals look like an old police station desktop.
Players are tasked with solving a fictional missing man case by searching a database of police interviews. The interviews focus on the missing person’s wife. Players must use their deductive reasoning to determine whether she is innocent or responsible for his disappearance.
1 Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations
Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is an amazing spinoff and more than a few of Phoenix Wright’s classic games are fantastic. But none of them compare to the third main entry, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and tribulations. We already covered what makes the franchise great in our Big Ace write-up, but here, turn it all up to the max with stunning examples, wonderful characterization, including a great villain, and more.
But don’t start your journey with this game. Play the first and second titles in advance. This way, you’ll get a lot more out of this classic game and appreciate even more what’s better about it.
Next: The best VR detective games