Adventure detective video games have been around for ages and there is a ton of classic titles well worth enjoying today. However, it can be a bit limiting in how you can enjoy some of those games. As a result, if you have a detective game itch that you’re looking to scratch then check out some of these modern titles. These games have released within the past ten years giving you the ability to play the games on more modern console platforms along with the PC. With that said, these games are not ranked in any particular order for this list but merely a collection of titles we think may be worth checking into if you haven’t already.
#20 Broken Sword 5 – The Serpent’s Curse
The Broken Sword franchise has been around since 1996 and its latest release came out in 2013 with Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse. These are point and click adventure games where players take control of two protagonists, George Stobbart who is a patent lawyer along Nicole Collard, a freelance journalist. Within this game, the duo finds themselves at a grand opening of a new art exhibit which is suddenly robbed leaving our protagonists going on another grand journey to discover who was responsible.
Played as a classic-style adventure game, this may be a bit niche for some players to dabble into likewise since this is the fifth installment, there may be some players who are uncertain if they can jump into Broken Sword 5. Fortunately, you can enjoy this game without having played the past installments and since the gameplay is mainly the same as previous releases, if you find yourself enjoying this new take on an older series then you shouldn’t have any issues picking up the past installments.
#19 Murdered: Soul Suspect
Murdered: Soul Suspect is a third-person supernatural detective game. While relatively short, this title will have a narrative-driven storyline for players to go through where you take the role of a ghost detective named Ronan O’Connor. That’s right our hero protagonist ends up gunned down at the start of this title and you’re left stranded in this town to find out who your murderer is.
Meanwhile, his medium partner will help him in areas that may prove to be a bit more tricky to handle as a ghost. Regardless, now as an undead detective, Ronan will have a few new abilities to make use of such as possessing civilians of the town and reading their minds to potentially learn more about any given situation. However, you’ll find quite a few interesting storyline quests outside of finding your murderer. Ronan can go around the town and speak with other ghosts that also need your help as you learn what happened to cause their untimely death.
#18 Deadly Premonition
Deadly Premonition in a lot of ways was a Twin Peaks video game. It’s been compared to the supernatural drama series since its release and for good reason. Both follow an unusual FBI agent that travels to a secluded small American town in hopes of solving a murder. However, upon arriving at the town, meeting the townsfolk, and exploring the area, our FBI agent discovers that there is something much more dark and otherworldly happening. This is a third-person survival horror type of game where players are seeking out clues and fighting off paranormal hostile enemies along the way.
As mentioned, this title had a cult following and it’s still a game that you’ll see recommended regularly for those that want a bit of the offbeat gameplay experience. This franchise recently received another installment. However, rather than being a sequel that takes place after the events of the first title, players will find that Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing In Disguise is a prequel. Players are stepping into a younger FBI Special Agent Francis York that is sent to another small town in America as they attempt to solve a murder case that may have been tied to a drug ring.
Kona takes players to 1970 where you step into the role of a private investigator who gets called into a hunting manor in Northern Canada. When the hunting manor continues to get vandalized, our protagonist, Carl Faubert, takes on the job to figure out just who is responsible. However, things take a turn for the worse when traveling to the manor Carl finds himself trapped within the area due to a freak blizzard. Also, we find ourselves completely alone with his contact nowhere to be seen. As the case grows to be more bizarre players are now left stranded in an area devoid of life leaving Carl to not only fight to find out what has happened but also fighting for survival.
This game is set up in a first-person perspective and is a bit of a walking simulator. Players are mainly exploring different areas, taking in clues, and solving puzzles. However, the atmosphere helps bring out a somber tone. With that said, if you’re not a fan of walking simulators like Firewatch then chances are you won’t find much fun to be had here.
#16 Contradiction – Spot The Liar!
Fans of FMVs may have already taken notice of Contradiction: Spot The Liar, a video game that came out back in 2015. As a result, there’s not too much here in terms of gameplay outside of selecting choices. Within the game, players are consistently interviewing characters and it’s your job as a detective to catch them in a lie. Between interviews, our protagonist will be collecting key pieces of evidence which can be used to point out any contradictions made in the interview. It’s all about the plot here and we’ll refrain from spoiling anything. With that said, you can complete this game in just about seven hours and best of all, it can be a fun party game with players watching the FMV play out and help pick out any inconsistencies.
#15 Danganronpa Collection
Danganronpa is a wacky video game series that has been around since 2010 and continues to find new installments released into the marketplace. As a result, you can list this point out as a collection title. Overall, this title a dialogue-heavy game that puts characters into a life or death style game.
Without going into great details about each game, the IP mainly follows a group of individuals that are locked into a sinister deal. Here the only way to escape is to kill another individual and get away with it. This sets players up with having to go around and speaking with each character to figure out who is responsible for a gruesome murder. Again this is a very dialogue-heavy video game so you should expect to be talking quite a bit with NPCs which may make or break some players when it comes to this series.
#14 Kathy Rain
Years ago point and click adventure games were mainstream but now they are more of a niche gameplay mechanic for the adventure genre. Kathy Rain comes from Clifftop Games which follows a young woman named Kathy who discovers that her grandfather had passed away. Estranged from the family, Kathy Rain ultimately decides to attend the funeral and rekindles her relationship with her grandmother. It’s here that Kathy discovers that her grandfather had an unusual accident that left him in a comatose state.
In hopes of uncovering the truth and gaining closure, Kathy sets off to discover what has happened to her grandfather. This journey will require Kathy to visit the different townsfolk while solving a slew of puzzles along the way. Slowly, Kathy reveals that there is something a bit more sinister that’s going on within the town while unveiling her family’s past. Being a point-and-click style adventure game, the majority of the title is based on solving puzzles, finding clues, and speaking with the different characters.
#13 Professor Layton Series
Professor Layton is a series of puzzle games from Japanese studio Level-5. Each of the games is based on a series of puzzles and mysteries provided to the two protagonists, Professor Layton and his assistant Luke. The duo will have a series of mysteries to solve so the puzzles can range quite drastically from logical questions to mathematical. This series has become one of the most popular puzzle games on Nintendo’s handheld consoles and even the Nintendo Switch platform as well. So far the latest installment comes from the 2017 launch of Layton’s Mystery Journey which was originally for the smartphone and Nintendo 3DS platforms until it received a Nintendo Switch that following year.
#12 Life is Strange
Dontnod Entertainment brought out an iconic episodic adventure series with Life is Strange. The video game was a massive hit as players went through this episodic adventure filled with twists and turns. Overall, the game follows a young woman named Max who finds herself back in her old hometown of Arcadia Bay. After rekindling an old friendship with another woman named Chloe, the duo discovers that Max can rewind time. With this ability, Max decides to seek out a mystery that has haunted Chloe for years.
Along the way, Max and Chloe learn more about the town of Arcadia Bay and some surprising twists and turns that puts players in some tough decisions. This is played in a third-person perspective where players are using their powers to solve puzzles or finding out useful information in conversations in order to get the upper hand. As mentioned, this is an episodic adventure but the full game is readily available and out of the three installments available for this IP, Life is Strange has been arguably the better title.
#11 Her Story
Sam Barlow made quite the interesting indie title that had players stepping into the role of an old detective. Setup as an FMV type of game, players were put in charge of a collection of police investigation videos that featured a woman named Hannah Smith who was being questioned over the disappearance of her husband. Taking place in 1994, the game puts players in front of an old Windows PC machine where you’ll have to search through the police database and watch the different video clips in hopes of piecing together the whole story of what happened and potentially catching the suspect in a lie.
It’s a puzzle game where players will be using different programs to cross-reference statements and keywords behind a virtual computer screen. This was a breakout hit title as well back in 2015 and it’s even seen a spiritual sequel release as well called Telling Lies. Both games play out very similarly with Telling Lies being set more in the modern-day.
#10 The Sinking City
Developed by Frogwares, who you may know from a series of Sherlock Holmes games, comes a new interesting detective title known as The Sinking City. Inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, The Sinking City is a survival horror detective title. In this open-world game, players take on the role of a detective by the name of Charles Winfield Reed who is asked to help the people of Oakmont, Massachusetts. The town, which has been secluded by most of the world has been practicing Occultism which started to cause some type of supernatural force to flood streets along with infecting people with mass hysteria.
With so much haunting going on a local sought out Charles Winfield Reed to solve the mystery and rid the dark forces from the area. You’ll want to remember that this game features plenty of investigation so you’ll have to keep a keen eye out on what’s going on within the town. Likewise, the game quests will rely on how well players can piece the evidence together.
#9 L.A. Noire
L.A. Noire came out from developers Team Bondi and was published by Rockstar Games. It had the feel of a Grand Theft Auto video game but rather than putting players into the role of a common criminal looking to score big, we’re instead tossed into the shoes of a police officer. Set in the 1940s, players take the role of Cole Phelps, a detective that works up the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department. At the time, this game was rather groundbreaking for its facial motion capture technology that allowed actors and actresses’ likeness to get represented well in the video game. Overall, the game has players going through a series of cases as you check out a crime scene, investigate the body, surrounding area, and ultimately start shaping up the different clues.
Afterward, players would take these clues and narrow down the suspects to bring them into the police department for interrogation. Due to the advanced facial capture, the developers rely on player’s ability to tell if an actor is lying by their facial reactions. It’s from these cues that players could start to dwindle the suspect enough by asking certain questions and bringing up evidence in hopes of getting a confession. While this game came out in 2011 this title has had a strong following with ports being released across several platforms long after its initial release. Unfortunately, this title has yet to receive a sequel installment, but there is a VR addition available to put players a bit more immersive of an experience.
#8 Sherlock Holmes Games
Frogwares has been working on the Sherlock Holmes series of games since 2002 and over the years we’ve seen just under ten of these games release. There’s certainly a market for the Sherlock Holmes franchise and the games bring everything we love of the IP into a video game format. Here players take on the role of Sherlock Holmes and must complete a series of mysteries. The latest available release that came out in 2016 is Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter where again, players can explore the area of each crime, gather clues, and attempt to piece together what happened. While you have a good plethora of these adventure detective games to enjoy right now, it’s worth bringing up what may be the most ambitious Sherlock Holmes game yet that’s slated to launch later this year.
Sherlock Holmes Chapter One is a prequel to the other installments where Sherlock Holmes goes on his first big detective case, his mother’s murder. It’s set in a big open world for players to freely explore as they attempt to gather clues, infiltrate restricted areas and partake in a series of side quests. Because this is a prequel title, you won’t have Sherlock’s friend and partner here, Watson. So far, we only know that the game is slated to launch in 2021.
#7 The Wolf Among Us
The original incarnation of Telltale Games delivered some great video game titles into the marketplace. Most of us would likely refer back to The Walking Dead series that brought the development studio out for mass attention, but there were other iconic adventure games available as well. One of those titles was The Wolf Among Us, which was a game based on the Fables comic book series. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, this game follows a group of fairy tale characters that gets tossed out into the real world. Forced to live with humanity while avoiding attention, this massive group of characters ends up living within a city town.
Fortunately, fairy tale characters are incredibly tough and can’t be easily killed by a mortal. However, after a character winds up murdered, it’s up to Bigby Wolf to figure out what’s going on and keeping unwanted attention from showing up in their town. It’s a thrilling adventure full of mystery as Bigby heads to different fairy tale characters and attempts to get information while also seeking out clues around the city. There is just the first season available and after Telltale Games went under, it was believed that there wouldn’t be a follow-up to The Wolf Among Us. Fortunately, since Telltale Games was revived we know that we’ll see this storyline continue with the upcoming release of The Wolf Among Us 2.
#6 Return of the Obra Dinn
Return of the Obra Dinn has a strong following and it’s a title worth checking into if you enjoy puzzle detective-style video games. Players follow a storyline in which a ship that’s been missing for years, the Obra Dinn, suddenly returns to dock. However, everyone on the ship is dead and now you’ll be taking on the role of an insurance investigator that must go on the ship and assess the damages along with the reasons behind the deaths on the boat.
Armed with a journal that gives you names along with pictures of the crew and a pocket watch, our protagonist will slowly uncover the different deaths. Upon each death, the pocket watch will reverse back time and give players a new picture of how the individual died but it’s up to you to figure out who was involved in the death. Slowly over time you’ll uncover all the deaths and obtain a full story of what happened on the Obra Dinn.
#5 The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a first-person debut adventure title from a newly independent studio called The Astronauts and currently, this is the only game available from the team. Within the game, players take the role of a paranormal investigator by the name of Paul Prosper. Set in 1973, Paul receives a fan letter from a young boy named Ethan Carter which prompts our protagonist to set off to the quiet town of Ethan’s, Red Creek Valley. However, it’s upon arriving at this town that Paul discovers Ethan has gone missing and there seem to be signs of a murder that has taken place. From there it’s up to the players to learn the different gameplay mechanics and discover what had happened before their arrival.
This is one of those types of games that doesn’t hold your hand or offer much direction. Instead, players are having to learn everything on their own and attempt to piece together what has happened along the way. Being a paranormal investigation game, players will have some useful powers such as setting up scenes and having them play out in real-time. The majority of this game is wandering around freely and searching for clues and solving a slew of puzzles.
#4 Batman Arkham Games
Who doesn’t love a good Batman video game? Over the years we’ve seen quite a few of these titles hit the marketplace but one series that holds a special place in our hearts is the Batman Arkham games. This collection of titles has players taking on the role of the Dark Knight where at first he becomes trapped by the Joker in Arkham Asylum, forced into fighting off some of his most nefarious and iconic villains as they are set loose and wrecking having within the facility. From there, the Arkham titles puts players into the heart of Gotham City as Batman watches over its citizens and fighting off those that wish harm to them.
There are a few Arkham games available within the market today and each tends to bring something new or unique. With that said, these games still put players into a detective role as Batman is forced into searching for clues, sneaking into areas undetected, and using an array of gadgets to help get the job done. For instance, you could be using a grapple gun to reach new heights, explosive gel to break away at a wall, or the iconic Batarang to hit an object from a distance or laying down some attacks to an opponent without getting up close and personal.
Judgment was a bit of a surprise IP announcement as it takes place in the world of the Yakuza games but with players not being directly involved as a member of a yakuza family. Instead, this game players take the role of Takayuki Yagami, a detective. Yagami has been involved in a new case in hopes of finding out who is behind a series of deaths where the corpses are showing up without their eyes.
While on the case, Yagami will be exploring for different clues or using something like a drone to track a suspect. However, if you’re familiar with the Yakuza games then you know that the titles focus quite a bit of the gameplay with brawling style combat. Fortunately, that remains true here and in some ways, the combat is a bit more fluid and intuitive with Judgment. Yagami can deliver a powerful beat down when facing enemies as our protagonist can vault off buildings for a more aerial attack against an opponent. Best of all, this game doesn’t really feature past narratives of the Yakuza lineup of games so you don’t need to play the previous games to enjoy this title.
#2 Heavy Rain
Quantic Dream is known for delivering some in-depth narrative-driven adventure titles. One of their breakout hits was Heavy Rain, a title that followed a serial killer kidnapping children and drowning them in rainwater. In the game, this killer has struck again by kidnapping the son of a father named Ethan. Now with a limited time to find the missing child, players will be following four protagonists who are all after the killer and solving this heinous crime. If you’re familiar with Quantic Dream then chances are you know how the gameplay handles in Heavy Rain. The majority of the gameplay is exploring the area, picking up objects, taking in clues, speaking with NPCs, and a whole lot of quick-time events.
This game has a series of endings as well. With players have the option to make several decisions along the way and depending on how well they handle the quick-time events, you’ll find that the game will ultimately reward the player with a select ending, whether it’s a positive or negative one. Ultimately, that means that there is plenty of replay value here as you can see just how the story would adapt to other choices made throughout the game. Being one of the bigger hits from Quantic Dream, players can enjoy it not only on the PlayStation 3 as it originally launched but also the PlayStation 4 and PC platforms.
#1 Disco Elysium
Disco Elysium was a big hit when it launched in 2019 as players took the role of a detective that wakes up with a bad hangover and no memories of the night before. However, as our protagonist starts to come about, he discovers that a murder case needs to be solved and it’s here that our journey begins where we figure out what happened and perhaps a chance of redemption for our down on his luck hero. This is a top-down RPG title where players are wandering about in this world, meeting NPCs, taking on quests, going into conversations, earning experience points, and unlocking more skills to further aid you during the gameplay.
Interestingly enough, being an RPG detective game, there’s a lot of freedom here for how players wish to craft up their protagonist to be. You could play by the rules and go about as a clean cop or throw out the handbook and make your own rules to get the job done. As a result, this is not only a great detective game but a very solid RPG experience as well.