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Paranormal Detectives

[Paranormal Detectives]

Marcin Laczynski, Szymon Malinski, Adrian Orzechowski

Lucky Duck Games

No. of Players:

G@mebox Star



G@mebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

Deduction games get more and more popular. I personally avoided this type of games for a long time. The reason is that I have suffered long from my vain attempts to solve the riddles in the old Sherlock Holmes games back in the 80s of the last century. Modern deduction games are often much easier to access. And sometimes they even turn out to be cool party games. Such a game is Paranormal Detectives.

In the game the players must solve a murder case. Well not all of them: One of the players takes the roll of the ghost of the victim who helps the investigators to shed light on the crime. Yes, the ghost wants to see his murderer in prison. But as he is now a ghost he naturally cannot simply go to another person and tell him or her the name of the murderer. As we all know, ghosts can only give interact with living persons in a paranormal way. What does that mean? Well, you will see...

[Paranormal Detectives]

Click on image to enlarge!

First of all, we must learn what had happened. Or better: the Ghost player has to learn it. As this is still a boardgame, we do not commit a real crime on the Ghost player. I also query wether this player would really become a ghost and remember what has happened, not to mention the paranormal ability to interact. It’s much better to draw one of those mission cards for that purpose. That is also much easier to bring into practice, and it is probably much more bloodless too. So the Ghost player comfortably reads about the circumstances of the crime. And this is precisely who, where, why, how and with which weapon the crime has been carried out.

All other players are investigators who try to solve the mystery. However, those investigators are rivals, so everyone wants to solve the case on his own. Unfortunately they are all assigned to the same investigation team, so not every detail can be kept secret from the other players. But the notes a player takes are kept hidden from the other players behind a player screen.

To solve the case we must be able to answer all questions about how, where and why the person of the Ghost player has been murdered (all answers to the questions above). What's easier than asking the ghost those questions? In your turn you may ask whatever you want, but unlike most other deduction games you may never ask a yes/no question. The ghost must answer truthfully, but not in a normal way by just telling the other players. Remember that he is now a paranormal being and must use paranormal ways to say something.

[Paranormal Detectives]

Click on image to enlarge!

How does that work? Well, for that the interaction cards come into play. Those cards are held by the investigators and can be used once in a game. Those interaction cards determine how the Ghost player must answer the question. Drawing the answer on the back of the player, drawing with the arm of the player who asked, using mime or pointing at letters are some of the 9 interaction disciplines of the game. Some of these actions use the board and other game material like two small ropes to form shapes and symbols, other actions like the whisper of shadows simply use the natural abilities of the Ghost player (with the whisper of shadow the Ghost answers the question by silently moving their mouth and lips). But all actions have in common that the Ghost player don’t directly answers the question.

All player can take their notes as most of the disciplines give information to all detectives. However some disciplines like the Ghost Touch in which the Ghost draws the answer on only the back of the enquirer can only be experienced by the active player . And this hidden information can be used by the players to ask in a way that the answer will only give detailed information to those players with the hidden information.

[Paranormal Detectives]

Click on image to enlarge!

So, gradually the details of the crime will become clear to the detectives. At that time an investigator can try to guess the story instead of asking another question. If the mystery is solved the game ends with the guessing detective and the Ghost player as winners. If however there is only a partial progress, the Ghost player tells the guessing investigator how many of his or her guesses were right, and the game continues.

In my opinion, Paranormal Detectives is one of the best deduction party games. There are a lot of interesting and varying crime cases in the box, but of course you can only play a scenario once with the same people (obviously, because otherwise someone already would know the answers). But there is a companion app available with many more cases. The game is also very good to play with non-gamers, because the rules are very simple and there is a lot of talking and guessing and only little boardgame action. If you like Mysterium you should try this one too. I also like the art a lot. That definitely animates the Ghost player to tell the story (or better communicate about it) in a pictorial language. A G@mebox Star from me for that!

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Copyright © 2020 Ralf Togler & Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany