The director of a circus has been murdered. Their death remains unsolved, leaving their ghost stuck in purgatory. In order to free them from this terrible, the ghost reaches out to a team of psychics through visions in hopes that they can decipher the visions and nab the perpetrator. Are you and your team able to solve the murder at Mysterium Park?
(NOTE: I have not played the original Mysterium. As such, I won’t be able to provide any commentary on how similar or different Mysterium Park is to its predecessor)
At the start of the game, one player will play as the ghost. All remaining players will act as psychics. Placed in the centre of the table is the game board. A turn track on the right denotes what round it is. In the main area are nine card slots. In round one, suspect cards will be placed on the board. In round two, location cards will be placed instead. In the final round (if your team gets that far), the bottom two rows are used to present three pairings of suspects and locations.
In the first two rounds, the psychics are trying to narrow down the list of suspects and locations. This is where the ghost comes in. They will give each psychic one or more vision cards in hopes that they will correctly eliminate a suspect or location.
Unfortunately, the ghost’s ability to communicate is limited to the visions that appear on the card. Every card features surreal art with combinations of people, locations, and objects. Hopefully, you’re able to communicate connections between your vision cards and the cards on the board so that the psychics can make the right choices. If you’re in a jam, you can cash in a ticket to discard and redraw cards, but you can only do this a total of three times.
Once the vision cards are out, the fun begins. Did the ghost give you a card with cats on it because they want you to pick the suspect that kind of looks like cat? Did they give you card in hopes that you’ll see that the vision has a lot of green and the location is green as well? Even in cases where it’s obvious to the ghost, the psychics might interpret the cards completely differently.
In order to move to the next phase, all psychics must correctly guess their assigned cards on the board. There is some wiggle room for error, but you must get to the final round before the end of the sixth turn. Otherwise, the ghost is forced to suffer eternal damnation! Ouch.
Getting to the final round is going to be hilarious and difficult. But if you do, it all comes down to one of three choices. The ghost can only give two vision cards to the team: one connected to the suspect and one to the location. Guess correctly, and you win!
Though the game bills itself as a murder mystery of sorts, it plays more like Codenames with Dixit cards instead of verbal cues. Though the cards all look fantastic and easy connections can be made from time-to-time, I did get frustrated when I was dealt a bad hand. With so few redraws available, you’re forced to give clues with what you have and hope that your team can decipher the mess you’re giving them. With larger player counts, the potential for giving out bad cards can get pretty high.
Another thematic hiccup for me was the notion of eliminating suspects and locations vs. identifying suspects. In a six-player game, the five psychics weed out all of the innocent suspects, leaving only a witness and three suspects. Anything less than that feels odd that you’ve eliminated some people from the mix, but handwave everyone but the actual three suspects once everyone has correctly chosen. You’ll get over it, but it feels odd to me that the ghost is using their time to communicate who is innocent rather than telling you who is guilty. I understand from a mechanical sense why it’s done this way, but it doesn’t fully connect with the theme.
Mysterium Park is a gorgeous social deduction game that can be pretty quick to play. For those who have played Codenames and/or Dixit, this is an interesting twist on the formula. Communicating through the cards will inevitably lead to lots of laughs and some 5D Chess moves.
That said, I do think the overall experience is a bit clunkier than I’d like. By contrast, Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a similar game that doesn’t require the clue-giver or the rest of the team to jump through additional thematic or mechanical hoops to get to the point. I think it is a decent alternative if you’ve burned out on similar social deduction games. However, it wouldn’t be one I’d rush out to play right away.
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