From crime scene investigations and murder mysteries to even black magic, we rounded up our top 7 most liked mobile detective games.
Put your logical reasoning to the test, and hone your deduction skills. Because it’s time to get cracking and solve these mysteries! Start channeling your inner Sherlock Holmes and let’s begin.
1. The Professor Layton Series
Layton: Unwound Future in HD (July 2020)
Layton: Mystery Room (2012) – FREE
Layton’s Mystery Journey (July 2017)
Layton: Diabolical Box in HD (2009)
Layton: Curious Village in HD (Feb 2007)
The Professor Layton games series is developed by Level-5, a Japanese video game developer and publisher based in Fukuoka, Japan. They were founded in October 1998.
All the Professor Layton games are mystery-adventure games, peppered with puzzle solving throughout the storyline. By solving the puzzles that come your way, you move forward in the story.
The puzzles types include brainteasers that require logical thinking, problem solving with math, and visual deduction. Successfully solving a puzzle earns the player ‘Picarats’, which an in-game currency.
Wrongly solving the puzzle reduces the amount of Picarats that the player can earn. These Picarats can be used to unlock new content in the bonuses feature of the game.
As you move through the story, the gameplay takes the mix of a point-and-click adventure, and a traditional puzzle game. Progressing through the story gets you moving across different maps, exposing you to new characters and more beautiful artwork.
A new map brings new opportunities, as you get to tap and interact with every element, in the hopes of finding a hint coin.
These hint coins add up, and can be exchanged for helpful hints in puzzles that are difficult. Your completed puzzles will then be added to the Puzzle Index.
The entire story, from the beginning to the end, should take you around 15 to 25 hours of continuous gameplay to complete. Along the way, there are many bonus content for you to sidetrack and solve too.
Simply head back to areas that you have unlocked to engage with characters there, or tap on unexplored parts of the map to trigger a hidden puzzle.
It’s the strong puzzle designs and wonderful script and storytelling that keeps me going back for more.
1. The heart felt storytelling that keeps you engaged.
From the steller writing that shines in every line of dialogue, to the characters’ personalities, every stage in the game lets you fully take in the rich stories that are unravelled. You’d also appreciate the screenwriting and the cutscenes that are found throughout the game.
2. Amazing voice acting.
With the highly accomplished Lani Minella fronting the voice acting as Luke Triton, and the super talented Christopher Robin Miller playing Professor Layton, you are guaranteed that the game feels fresh and fun!
3. Detailed artwork throughout the game.
Look forward to HD artwork in Unwound Future, Diabolical Box and Curious Village. The vibrant colors and the attention to detail is simply stunning and posh. It is a visual feast for your eyes from start to finish. It makes for a pleasant game play with its bright colors and smiling characters. The overall vibe feels friendly and unthreatening, no matter what danger lurks around the corner.
2. Tiny Room Stories: Town Mystery
Release Date: 2019
The Tiny Room Stories: Town Mystery is an interactive point-and-click (or tap) escape-room style of puzzle game. It’s a successful mobile game designed by an indie game studio (with only 2 founders), Kiary Games. They operate out of Siberia, Krasnoyars.
This game taps on your strong-witted detective skills to solve puzzles that are in every stage of the game. You assume the role of a private detective who is off looking for your father in an abandoned city. The city that your father is supposedly in, is empty as a ghost town. It is your mission to find out what happened to your father, along with the other inhabitants of the city.
Every puzzle in this detective story game feels uniquely crafted, and the mystery of each stage draws you in and keeps you engaged.
The mechanics of the game is also easy to grasp for someone new to mobile gaming. Just rotate the camera to uncover new areas of the scene, and tap to explore the elements to interact.
The graphics and UI is also very polished and poise. Some stages also challenge you to think outside the box in order to complete.
The opening of the game starts you off in the town of Redcliff. You begin your detective puzzle adventure in your car on a single lane road, blocked by a barrier. And as you figure out how to operate and release the barrier, the game introduces you to the controls and how to play the game.
You can enter and exit houses, rotate the camera view angle left and right all while picking up and interacting with objects around you.
You then figure out that a power failure in the house caused the electricity to be cut off. As you attempt to restore power, you will learn how to utilise tools to fix a circuit breaker.
Then, you will realise that the computer, though powered up, does not release the barrier. It is up to you to decipher the password as you input it into the system.
Once you solve the password, the barrier can now be controlled and lifted. You then head back to your car and drive off to the next scene, of an abandoned house beside an empty street. This mysterious vibe can be felt throughout the whole city of Redcliff.
Every scene is similar to what you have went through – interactive objects that you tap around to solve puzzles. The scenes also get more intense and difficult as the game progresses.
1. Controls that start and stay simple.
It is relatively easy to just pick up your phone and jump straight into the game. There are only 2 actions to do in the game, tap to interact with objects, and swipe to change your view. The brief tutorial at the start is also sufficient enough to guide you through the game’s mechanics.
2. An intriguing storyline that keeps you obsessed.
A deserted ghost town that was once filled with life and people – where did everyone go? It’s up to you and your detective eyes to uncover the truth as to what happened, including your dad. Each completed stage brings you one step closer to the truth. If this doesn’t keep you intrigued, I don’t know what will.
3. Get unstuck with helpful hints
We’ve all been there – stuck at a stage, cracking our heads, not knowing how to proceed with the rest of the puzzle. Instead of referring to a walk through, which ruins the fun, the game offers in-game assistance. This takes the form of hints and tips to keep you moving through the rest of the stages.
Here’s a review posted by a player of Tiny Room Stories: Town Mystery
” A well made, well written, fantastically designed puzzle game. The story has depth, the puzzles take a bit of time to crack. But this is one of the few games I thoroughly enjoyed. Eagerly waiting for the next games in the franchise. Take a bow ❤️ ” – Harsha Sunkari, 22 November 2020
Overall, the puzzles take up quite some time to solve, making this a slow burn type of game. But it’s a puzzle adventure game that we feel all budding detectives should not miss out on.
3. Dead Man’s Phone: Interactive Crime Drama
Release date: 2020
Dead Man’s Phone is developed by a London studio, Electric Noir Studios. They were founded in 2017, and currently have 6 full-time members. This game was also nominated by BAFTA for EE Mobile Game of the Year 2020.
The entire UI gameplay for Dead Man’s Phone: Interactive Crime Drama takes the form of a phone interaction. The various functions of a phone, such as voice calls and messages takes the centrestage of the game.
You play the role of a newly minted detective from New Scotland Yard, London leading an investigation into the recent murder of 16-year old Jerome Jacobs.
Jerome Jacobs was thrown off violently from the twelfth floor of a London tower block. And he was found dead on the pavement by nearby witnesses and by your in-game detective partner, Michael Sutherland.
The phone interface that you play on is the entire control centre of your police team. You command your crime-fighting colleagues to do things like a forensic investigation, or even interrogation of suspects through the phone’s Facetime option.
You also get hold of the Jerome’s phone, and you get to comb through his personal messages, photos and apps for clues that could shed light into his demise. Each clue that you successfully find gives you coins, which can then be spent to speed up in-game tasks.
The game adds on a sense of crime fighting realism by having the voice over of Michael Sutherland done by an actual real homicide detective, Sergeant Simeon Cryer.
In essence, you are running an entire murder investigation, from start to finish, on your mobile phone.
1. You dictate the progress and outcome of the story.
Dead Man’s Phone takes storytelling to the next level with you being the lead detective. You control the direction of the storyline with the decisions you get to make. One example would be how you get to decide what your detective partner does during the entire course of the game.
At times, your own ethical and moral compass will be questioned with the tough choices posed to you. And keep in mind that your choice of actions will dictate how the story plays out, and will alter the course of the game.
2. You slowly become drawn into the game.
As you scan through Jerome’s phone for clues, the line between real life and a game slowly becomes very blurred. You become eerily connected him and his lifestyle. This includes becoming emotionally connected with his immediate family and social circles.
3. Crime solving doesn’t get more realistic than this.
Dead Man’s Phone boasts of a full suite of actors, that includes a real life homicide detective, movie actors and actresses. With a game that revolves around its unique collection of voices, having an all-star cast of actors directly involved in the game makes it all cooler. You can view the full cast list here (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10451354/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast).
4. The Ace Attorney series
Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (iOS & Android 2016)
Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies (iOS & Android 2017)
Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice (iOS & Android 2017)
Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth (iOS & Android 2017)
The Ace Attorney mobile game series (which is also available for Nintendo DS), are visual novel adventure games. You get to control defense attorneys who are tasked with defending various clients in different court cases for each episode. The adventure legal game series is develoepd by Capcom, and is one of their more successful game titles to date.
There are two parts of the game in each episode (court case). These parts are the investigations and the courtroom trials.
For the investigation part, you are the detective of the crime scene. You get to search the crime scene for clues by gathering evidence and information. You also get to interact with the characters there, like the witnesses, the police, forensics and also the client.
Then, the game progresses to the court room scene. Your job, is to take everything that is said in court into consideration. Then, work out who was the one who committed the crime.
The ultimate goal here is to get your client declared as ‘not guilty’.
As you interview witnesses who take the stand, you get to uncover important clues that allude more details of the case. You can also study their body language to judge if they are lying or not.
These evidence pieces are then accepted or rejected by the court as evidence by the judge. They will then be added to the Court Record, which you have access to by pressing the corresponding icon.
You can analyze every piece of evidence stored in the Court Record to get further clues.
For example, you are able to do a 3D inspection on a glass bottle accepted as the murder weapon. You can rotate it, zoom in and out, and examine parts of the entire bottle, from its label to contents.
Overall, you get exposed to the various functions and happenings within a courtroom. From witness testimonies, to cross examining witnesses, it’s a game that previews what a law career may eventually look like.
You can even press the witnesses to tell you more about their recount, and if a contradicting statement appears, you then have your AHA! moment there to present to the judge.
That’s how you gradually get to the truth.
You get penalized if you present incorrect evidence to the judge, and this is represented by a health bar of the judge’s patience level in the later series. Once the health bar hits 0, the judge will declare your client as guilty.
This causes you to lose the game.
1. An interactive novel that draws you into the game.
The Ace Attorney series keeps you hooked up with the plot by getting you to keep thinking about how the ending would unfold. And as you pay attention to what is going on in the court room, it draws you into the court case at hand. The whole vibe of the game is also very fun and engaging, not in a serious court room way too.
2. The visuals of the game are great.
The HD graphics deployed are beautifully drawn and well thought out. The colors are also vivid and attractive, it keeps you constantly drawn to the game.
3. Some semblance to real life.
The game depicts strong similarity to real Japanese prosecutors who directly oversee crime investigations, and issue orders to police. The Japanese attitudes to the police is also reflective in the game, where the police is represented by incompetent characters.
5. Dark Things – Detective Quest
Release date: 2019
You become Mr Doe in this 2D tap-and-drag detective game. You would be going around solving mysteries about, well, dark things.
From occult summonings to vampires, each of the 4 episodes in the game take you through a very different investigative adventure.
Interact with your surroundings and think out of the box as you use objects around you to solve puzzles that come your way.
The entire scene of the mobile game feels like it was set in the 90’s era, with its beautiful pixel art. Though simple in nature, they are pretty and charming.
The accompanying music throughout the game feels very cyberpunk. And that sets the mood very nicely for a thrilling adventure solving dark mysteries.
And if you ever feel stuck, you can unlock hints with cookies – an in game currency of sorts that you get when you watch advertisements and checking-in daily.
The first episode, ‘Fathers and Sons’ is free to play, while the rest of the episodes require a certain number of cookies or real money to unlock. Episode 2 requires 30, episodes 3 & 4 require 40.
Each episode also gives an indicator of how long it will roughly take to solve.
For episode 1, it would roughly take 15 minutes from start to finish.
As you dive into the first episode, the first few scenes are about walking you through the controls of the game.
Then, you are off to start on your first mystery adventure – helping the son, Mr Letham, summon and talk to his dead father to find out what his unfinished business is.
You will then be going to the medium’s house to check things out.
As you go through the storyline, let your curiosity take over as you explore how using objects with one another produce an outcome.
For example, figuring out how to retrieve a newspaper from the newspaper stand.
1. Hilarious, memorable conversations as part of the storyline.
The conversations between the characters are quirky and filled with dark humour. It does well in keeping you entertained and wanting you to read the conversations that take place.
2. A game made with passion.
Each episode, with its own unique storyline and characters keep you on your toes every time.
With challenging and fun puzzles along the way, you can tell that the Russian developer, Miroslav Berezovsky, has put in a lot of attention to detail in the game.
3. Continued character development throughout all episodes.
Mr Doe’s identity is kept mysterious, and you get to explore and unravel his true identity eventually. Each of the episodes in the game give a hint that leads up to the final reveal.
You also get to explore the relationship between Ms Cole and Mr Doe. Ms Cole is the sidekick who follows Mr Doe in each of his adventures.
6. Murder Mystery – Detective Investigation Story
Release date: 2019
What do you get when you have a puzzle, a story and a case to solve? Murder Mystery – Detective Investigation Story is exactly that.
Tap into the world of murder mysteries, this app is a genuine detective game that helps you improve your deduction and analytical skills.
The murder cases start off easy, and increase in difficulty along the way. Every case in the game adds up to form a big story that you must solve at the end.
If you want to feel like Sherlock Holmes, this game is for you. Because, every bit of detail matters, and you need to learn to think deeply and connect the dots. It’s so much more than just a typical search and find game.
Upon loading the app, you are presented with a map, along with cases along the way.
Choose a case location, and you are immediately presented with the facts of the incident that took place.
Then, the game challenges you to think like a detective with probing questions that slowly reveal the truth.
Pen down notes in your detective hand book as you uncover the timeline of events.
You can also choose to lie, just to see if your suspects react or uncover any truths.
And once you think you have enough clues, report your findings to finalize the case investigation.
And if your findings are correct, it’s case solved!
It’s a thrilling murder mystery game in the palm of your hands. It sets you thinking, and sometimes takes a while to figure. But in the end, it’s definitely worth it.
1. Frighteningly realistic case files.
You are almost guaranteed to feel the thrill, the suspense, the fear, the sadness that resonates from the characters in each case. The emotional rollercoaster journey you go through as you solve each case is full on. In addition, the accompanying soundtracks set the scene really well.
2. Challenging cases, but in a good way.
It’s up to you to investigate, make notes and then deduce the correct outcome of the case. Every case is well thought out, providing the much needed originality that is lacking in the app store these days.
3. A fresh break from your typical detective game.
Granted, it’s not a flashy game with crazy visuals and graphics, but its thick plotted storyline is what makes this game really impactful. Solve the cases, and you will leave the app feeling accomplished.
The cluedo game board is rendered very nicely in this mobile version, and it looks as pretty as the actual board game.
Each player starts with 3 cards – a character, a weapon and a room.
Roll your dice to get started, then select a room in the mansion that you would like to visit.
In each room, you can accuse a character and a weapon.
Then, let the process of elimination take place, as players will have to show you 1 card out of the 3 that you accused.
If they show you any of the cards, your accusation combination is false. Don’t worry if you can’t remember all the cards that are shown. The app comes with a virtual clue sheet that helps you log and take down notes.
Your goal, is to eventually uncover which of the 3-card combination is the correct murder accusation.
8. Mystery Match – Puzzle Adventure Match 3
A different take on a detective game, Mystery Match combines the storyline of secret societies trying to take over the world, with a jewel match-3 game. Your mission is to search for clues while completing puzzles, to stop the evil cults.
Developed and published in 2014 by Outplay Entertainment Limited, Mystery Match is the puzzle solving, plot twisting, jewel matching family mystery game that budding detectives should try out.
The game starts off with a cut scene of a masked individual firing a gun at Emma’s father, Charles.
He then flees the scene, dropping an ornate box filled with gems.
It is then up to you and your puzzle solving skills to unlock the ornate box by matching the gems.
Solving the puzzles unlock the later parts of the storyline, along with new clues.
Besides the main storyline, the game regularly has timed events where you can solve puzzles at. These events grant extra rewards that will help you towards solving your main storyline quest.
As you progress further into the story, it starts to take you across the globe. Go exploring other cities from the charming city of London to the bustling streets of Hong Kong, and even the remote jungles.
You will also find that the puzzles get more challenging as you progress, providing you with the much needed test of your skills.
Continuously solve as many puzzles as you can until your life runs out (each loss removes a life). Unlock new stages of the storyline while revealing the truth behind the mysterious secret societies.
1. Enough variety to keep interest in the game going.
The game comes with beautiful graphics and well-designed tasks. There are also limited-timed events and frequent side quests that you can complete to bring up extra storylines about the characters.
2. Challenging puzzles that keep you on your toes.
Besides the enchanting art and the intriguing story line, the puzzles are also a great pull factor for the game. The puzzles get more challenging as you progress, and this hones your puzzle solving skills.
3. Each level is different from the next.
Variety is king, and every puzzle that you embark on is a different experience from the rest. So strategize well and keep matching those gem pieces!