Mysterium is a firm family favourite and it has also seen a few outings as a Game Night game with the boys and I’ve had some great success with this one even with non-gamer relations. Mysterium is an easy teach (as long as I’m the Ghost) because you can compare it to Cluedo. The new player instantly knows they are looking to solve a murder by finding a person, a location and a weapon. All that remains to teach is how that information will be transmitted.
Mysterium uses beautifully decorated cards which the ghost player, who is essentially the game's moderator or game master, hands out to the players as dreams, hopefully guiding them to select the correct suspects, locations and weapons. Each dream card will feature multiple elements that the players can interpret to point them to the correct suspects. For example a collection of flowers might point to the gardener, while tools might point to the groundskeeper.
However the ghost is limited to what cards they have in their hand, so they might not have a card with flowers on so instead they might resort to shapes or colours and so the clues can be vague and difficult to interpret. Even clues that are seemingly obvious to the Ghost Player may actually cause more confusion when they hand them to the players.
Mysterium follows the standard Cluedo formula, the murder takes place in an old mansion with the usual suspects you might expect. Mysterium Park shakes that up switching the location to a Funfair/Circus. Here your suspects are colourful characters from Jugglers and Knife Throwers to the Human Cannonball and the Strong Woman. Mysterium Park slims down the experience, distilling it into a twenty minute game across fewer rounds.
Players need only discover the perpetrator and the locale. Mysterium Park also flips the original script so that players are actually removing innocent suspects during the initial rounds, leaving three potentially guilty suspects and locations for the final round. This change means clues you gave in earlier rounds won't help in the final investigation. It also does away with the “Clairvoyance” system present in its big brother.
Overall Mysterium Park offers a small box experience that plays quicker than its big brother. It has gorgeous art, if maybe a little more Tim Burton-esque than the original. Its main flaw is that all the players must correctly identify their suspect in order to move on to the locations round, meaning players could be idle, waiting for another player to take their turns. However, as the game is co-op the players should all be working to help make the right choices.
If you also own Mysterium it is possible to use the People and Locations cards from the original with this format to offer more choices or play a shorter game. It’s a missed trick however they didn’t include cards to allow for the suspects and locations from Park to be used in Mysterium, but you can use the vision cards interchangeably.
Do you need to own both? No, but which would I keep? I don’t actually know. While I prefer the more in depth gameplay of the original, Mysterium Park offers a shorter experience which can be a nice closer or opener to a game night.
On the Seventh Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me, Seven Innocent Suspects and a Murderer in a Circus Tent.