10. Return of the Obra Dinn (2018)
Return of the Obra Dinn is a 2018 puzzle game by Lucas Pope with a beautiful art style and incredibly engaging narrative and detective story.
The story revolves around the East Indiaman trade shape, named the Obra Dinn, which is declared lost after departing from Falmouth, England, only to reappear 5 years later under mysterious circumstances.
Don’t be fooled by the monochromatic art style, Return of the Obra Dinn is as visually impressive as it is noteworthy for its excellent gameplay. This is not one to be missed.
9. The Painscreek Killings (2017)
The Painscreek Killings is an impressive murder mystery game that was created by indie developer EQ Studios. It is relatively unknown, which will come as a great surprise to anyone who has tried the game.
The first thing you’ll notice when playing The Painscreek Killings is how beautiful the game looks – the semi open world environment is rich with detail and there is plenty to discover in the abandoned city.
The game is so much more than an aesthetically pleasing mystery, though, and it really holds up as one of the best PC detective games available right now. It’s not easy, and you must be on the ball to work things out, but with your trusty notepad in hand The Painscreek Killings is a delight to play through.
8. Jenny LeClue: Detectivú (2019)
Jenny LeClue is a point and click adventure detective game that follows the story of a young detective looking for a way to clear her mother after she is accused of murder.
With a beautiful art-style and quirky and intriguing characters, Jenny LeClue provides an engaging story with some challenging and fun puzzles to overcome on the way solving the mystery.
For many, Jenny LeClue is the best detective PC game in recent years, and one definitely worth checking out.
7. Grim Fandango (1998)
Set in the Land of the Dead, this classic adventure detective game follows Manny as he journeys from the Eight Underworld to the Land of Eternal Rest.
In Grim Fandango, Manny works a mundane travel agent job that he hates in order to pay off debts to higher powers. After a series of peculiar events, Manny steals a client from his colleague, instigating a sequence of events that unveils a corrupt underworld organization run by Hector LeMans.
Grim Fandango has gone down in gaming history as a classic, and for good reason too. With an exceptional soundtrack, stellar graphics (for the time), interesting characters and engaging story to boot, this is a detective game that stands up well in the modern era, and will likely be lauded for many decades to come.
6. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (2014)
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a game that requires the player to really test their detective skills in order to figure out what is going on around them.
In short, you must investigate the death of the Carter family while taking on the role of a paranormal investigator. The game is atmospheric and moody, and this adds to its mystery. Inspired by horror fiction writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, it’s easy to see why this game was so popular when it was first released in 2014.
With an elegant and intellectual style of gameplay, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a PC mystery game that will keep you hooked from start to finish.
5. Unforeseen Incidents (2018)
Another point and click entry into the list is Unforeseen Incidents. Developed by Backwoods Entertainment, this indie mystery game is a stylish adventure that is sure to test your detective abilities.
The gameplay combines elements of puzzle and mystery gameplay as the player is tasked with uncovering who is responsible for the outbreak of a deadly virus in the fictional place of Yelltown. Undoubtedly the strongest feature of the game is its voice acting, which is expertly applied to every NPC that you encounter.
The balance between humor and sincerity will keep you gripped until the end. Unforeseen Incidents is a mystery game that you can easily get lost in while playing.
4. L.A. Noire (2011)
L.A. Noire has become the poster child of the detective game genre, and it’s easy to see why. It has everything you want from an investigative experience – challenging puzzles, interrogations, and intriguing mystery – all while being able to roam 1940s Los Angeles in impressively designed open world gameplay.
Playing as Cole Phelps, you investigate a series of crimes as you advance through the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department. Every mission offers unique challenges, and the game offers a variety of police work that few other detective games have offered.
L.A. Noire is most certainly one of the best ever detective games for the PC.
3. The Wolf Among Us (2013)
If the only Telltale Games titles you have ever played are their episodic Walking Dead games, then you’re missing out. Granted, they’re exceptional, but it could easily be argued that The Wolf Among Us is even better.
Based on the Fables comic book series, The Wolf Among Us follows detective Bigby Wolf as he investigates a mysterious murder in 1986 Fabletown. The journey introduces you to a host of fabled characters – such as the Jersey Devil, Grendel, and Georgie Porgie – allowing you to make dialogue choices that can alter the course of the game.
In total, there are 5 episodes in the stylish The Wolf Among Us, each of them offering some new and combining together to make one of the best detective games for the PC available in 2020.
2. Broken Sword (1996 – 2013))
No detective game list would be complete without the point and click adventure classic Broken Sword. Anyone of the entries into this series could be included on the list – from the original Shadow of the Templars to the most recent The Serpent’s Curse – and for that reason we decided to include the franchise as a whole.
Playing as American lawyer George Stobbard and French journalist Nicole Collard, the game follows a series of mysterious events as the protagonists use their detective prowess to uncover the truth. All the games in the series revolve around a murder mystery plot in which the game gently ushers you towards finding out the truth with tips and hints, and each story is engaging in its own right.
The Broken Sword franchise undoubtedly provides some of the best mystery games for the PC ever made.
1. Disco Elysium (2019)
Our number one selection is a choice that some may not agree with, but we loved playing this game. Disco Elysium is a role-playing detective game that was one of the better releases of 2019. Featuring no combat, the game instead focuses on dialog trees and skill progressions that aid the player’s ability to advance investigations.
Playing as a detective who wakes with amnesia in the first scene, you are tasked with unravelling the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of a hanged man in the nearby area. That’s not the only mystery, though, and the game pieces together the story of the player character bit by bit, before leading to an emotional conclusion that can change depending on the choices made by the player throughout the game.
The graphics are beautiful, the gameplay is smooth, and the story is gripping from start to finish. Disco Elysium is a strong contender for the best detective game of all time and the developer ZA/UM have created a gaming masterpiece within the mystery genre.
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If you liked reading about the best detective games for the PC, you may also want to check out our take on the best mystery games for the PS4. If you’re an iPhone or Android user, check out this great review of mobile detective games by Mystery Tribune.
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