The Best Detective Games on PC

Solving these mysteries is far from elementary my dear gamer

By Monica Sanchez

There’s a reason a million and one detective shows are on TV. It’s because we get a kick out of trying to solve the crime before the detective does. We can’t all be detectives in real life, but sometimes it’s fun to imagine what it would be like to don that stylish trench coat, fire a gun, have anticipation slowly drip down our foreheads, and uncover clues that no one else can. Luckily, PC games exist so we actually get to simulate what that feels like. So exactly how sharp are your wits? Go ahead and refine your shrewd skills of observation after we venture through the best detective games to play on PCs.

  1. Detective Hunt – Crownston City PD
Detective Hunt - Crownston PD
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Detective Hunt-Crowston City PD is a PC detective game that was released in 2016 and developed by pixiepob. Since it has a film noir setting, the game is mostly black and white. In the game, you are playing as Damian Hunt, who is a new detective at the Crowston City Police Department. With the aid of your rookie partner, your job is to investigate and solve crimes in a series of three chapters around the city. There are multiple endings to each chapter depending upon which suspects you pursue or leads you follow.

  1. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
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Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a game that revolves around the seemingly perfect and exclusive school, Hope’s Peak Academy. Anyone who graduates from this school is guaranteed to have success. The only thing standing in the way of graduation is a psychotic headmaster, a bear called Monokuma, and his rules are far worse than having your cell phone confiscated now and again.

In the game, you play the role of Makoto Naegi, an average boy who much to his surprise is accepted into Hope’s Peak Academy, but he soon realizes that he is far from lucky. In order to graduate from this high school, Monokuma decrees that one must murder another classmate and get away with it, but Makoto Naegi decides to solve the murders instead of committing any himself. In a group of 15 students, you are trying to solve the true identity of the killer. If you succeed, then the killer is put to death. Should you fail, everyone but the killer will be executed, and the killer gets to graduate. Make sure not to point the wrong finger in the this game, or it will surely end in disaster.

  1. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
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It’s a new year at Hope’s Peak Academy in this sequel to Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. While the students surely want to forget about the murderous events of last year, they won’t have such luck in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. A new teacher, a pink bunny called Usami, tells students they are going on a class trip to foster friendship as the classroom falls apart to reveal Jabberwock Island. Unfortunately, the psychotic bear, Monokuma, can’t help but crash the party and torture the students once again. He says they must kill each other if they want to survive and leave the island.

Playing from the point of view of a new student, Hajime Hinata, you will need to work together with your other classmates to solve the mysteries of the island in order to stop the murders from spiraling out of control.

  1. Contradiction – Spot The Liar!
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Contradiction is an interactive, live-action game where you have to read body language and decipher clues in order to discover what really happened to Kate Vine, a PHD student. Everyone in Edenton thought Kate committed suicide by drowning in a lake, but now some strange circumstances are raising suspicions. You play the game as Detective Jenks, and your purpose is to investigate the mysterious death. Contradiction is named thus because the highlight of the game is interviewing people around town and spotting the contradictions they make as you question them. This game is popular because the interviews actually feel like you’re having a real conversation with the suspect. Other than interviewing people, you have the freedom to venture anywhere in the town, investigate key locations, collect evidence and make notes as you try to determine what exactly happened to Kate Vine.

  1. Resonance
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Resonance starts off with a particle physicist dying unexpectedly leaving his destructive technology up for grabs. Unlike a lot of other detective games out there, this game allows you the option of experiencing the action from four different characters. In the game, they have to work together to prevent a dangerous organization from getting hold of the technology and inciting a catastrophic disaster. There is a long and short-term memory system built within the game that allows for the creation of new mysteries to solve depending on your choices. If you explore the suspicions and memories of each character, then you’re more likely to solve whatever puzzles you encounter and save the world.

  1. Gemini Rue
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Set in the future, Gemini Rue will take you on a journey through the Gemini galaxy, a realm that is ruled by the nefarious Boryokudan. Space and film noir are mashed together in this epic, galactic, point and click adventure. This game gives you the option of playing from two characters, each on a different side of the galaxy. You can choose to either play Azriel Odin, an ex-assassin who has no choice but to seek help from his former employers in order to find his brother, or a man referred to as Delta-Six, who wakes up in a hospital with apparent amnesia.

In the game, characters buy and sell identities, find themselves in the midst of shootouts, and must solve dialogue-based puzzles to determine the ultimate fate of the galaxy.

  1. Detective Grimoire
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Detective Grimoire is a murder mystery set in a swamp with some strange and unique residents. The owner of a tourist attraction within the swamp has been murdered, and everyone believes his death was the direct cause of a creature that hasn’t been spotted for sixty years. As Detective Grimoire, you’ll walk around the swamp searching for clues and interacting with the residents of the swamp in order to catch the culprit. If children in horror movies often unnerve you, then you may not want to play this game. Throughout the game, there is a little girl who follows Detective Grimoire around, but she doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the plot of the story. While a bit cheesy at times, Detective Grimoire has an award-winning soundtrack, and its popularity survives because of its goofy charm.

  1. D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die
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If you love cliches, then this is the game for you. D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die centers around yet another detective whose wife was murdered. What is worse than the cliche is that his wife’s last words were “Look for D.” It’s terrifying to think of how many awful jokes the gaming community can make out of that one line, but that line is probably the reason why the game is so popular. In the game, you’ll play the role of the detective, David Young, who is on a mission to discover the mysterious meaning behind his wife’s last words. When you’re playing the game, be on the lookout for any words or names that start with the letter “D.” (I can hear all the awful jokes you’re thinking right now by the way.)

For a detective game, the player does have one advantage though. David Young has the ability to travel back in time when he places certain objects on his head. Hunt for the “D” in the present or the past to help David, and prevent his wife’s death from ever occurring.

  1. Day of the Tentacle
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Created by LucasArts, Day of the Tentacle is a whimsical sequel to Maniac Mansion. In this cartoon adventure, three friends must solve puzzles in order to stop Dr. Fred’s purple tentacle from achieving world domination. While it is a point and click adventure game, the adult humor mixed with animation is one reason why the game is so beloved that it was brought back and digitally remastered. Solving puzzles isn’t the only entertainment in this game. You also get to mess around with time travel. Goofy characters, fun animation, puzzles, and time travel are the perfect combination for an entertaining evening.

  1. Gone Home
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Imagine your life was the beginning of a horror movie. That’s basically the experience you get when you start playing Gone Home. You play the game from a first-person perspective as Kaitlin Greenbriar, who just returned home after spending time away during a year abroad. Everyone expects their family to be there to greet them after being away for long time, but Kaitlin’s family is nowhere to be seen. Anticipation builds as you explore the house, search for clues about where your family is, and try to uncover what happened while you were away. Gone Home is a game that only moves forward by your own curiosity.

  1. Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure
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While the name Tex Murphy instantly draws up visions of cowboys, that assumption isn’t far off. Tex Murphy is the typical lone-ranger detective archetype. Instead of stirring up trouble on the frontier though, he seeks it in San Francisco during the year 2050 after World War III has created an unfortunate dystopian society. Tex Murphy was a popular franchise in the 90’s, and the Tesla Effect, released in 2014, is the sixth game in a series of Tex Murphy adventures. As a full-motion video game, the new story brings back some characters from previous Tex Murphy adventures. In Tex Murphy’s latest adventure, he wakes up on a fire escape outside of his office and realizes that he doesn’t remember anything from the past seven years. In order to save the future, Tex Murphy has to first solve the mysteries of his past.

  1. Murdered: Soul Suspect
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Murdered: Soul Suspect intertwines the supernatural with the thrill of a murder-mystery detective game. From a third-person perspective, you play the role of Ronan O’Conor, a Salem detective who was brutally killed, and your goal is to solve your own murder. With the aid of a teenage medium, you will explore the town and attempt to bring your killer to justice so that your soul can finally move on and find peace. As a ghost, Ronan has supernatural powers that help him search for clues and leads, such as reading minds and influencing the living to perform certain actions. Interrogate other spirits, walk through walls, and collect evidence in this supernatural mystery-thriller.

  1. Alan Wake
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Steven King vibes radiate around this psychological action thriller game. Set in a small town, Alan Wake is a horror writer who is suffering from writer’s block and hopes some peace and quiet will be the perfect remedy. Unfortunately, the small town isn’t as peaceful as he hoped it would be. With the mysterious disappearance of his wife and strange things that go bump in the night, there’s an obvious light versus dark theme that plays a big role in the game. As you explore the town at night, you may encounter monsters, and the only way to defeat them is with objects of light, such as a flashlight or torch. Do your best to combat the darkness as your nightmares come to life in this creepy mystery game.

  1. Her Story
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Her Story gives you access to a police database with live action footage of multiple interviews of the same woman. This woman was brought in on account of her missing husband. You can search the database of interviews by using keywords, such as “murder.” Based on the keywords you choose, you’ll find different videos that might lead you to vital clues about the murder faster. You can even save clips that you think are important to solving the case. One video might cause you to feel sympathy for the woman, and another might convince you that there’s a reason the police have interviewed her so many times. No matter what, you have to play this game more than once in order to get the whole story and solve the crime.

  1. Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper
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Set in the Victorian era, Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper is a game that combines fiction and history to create a gruesome and thrilling detective story. Can the greatest detective ever defeat the most elusive serial killer? Well, you can try your best as you slip into the shoes of the ultimate sleuth. Hopefully, you have a strong stomach because some of the scenes can get pretty graphic as you examine the the ripper’s work. Boast about how it’s all elementary when you uncover the identity of the notorious ripper.

  1. Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments
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Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments gives you a series of eight cases to solve. Lead your investigations as the one and only Holmes. From murders to theft, you’ll have the chance to analyze them all. Interrogate suspects in the game by freezing time and studying their appearance. When you’ve gathered all your evidence, you can deduct who the culprit is and choose whether or not to convict the guilty party.

  1. Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter
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Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter is intriguing at first glance because it combines the supernatural with everyone’s favorite detective. In the game, there are four cases to solve, and some say it is a prequel to Crimes and Punishment due to the youthful appearance of Holmes. Investigate, find clues, gather evidence, and make deductions. Be sure not to stray off course in this game as there are many mini-games to distract you from your investigation. Explore multiple neighborhoods within Victorian London and hunt evil down across the city.

  1. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
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The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a game in which you must solve the disappearance of a young boy from a first-person perspective. As detective Paul Prospero, you will use your psychic powers to determine the cause of Ethan Carter’s disappearance and other strange occurrences in Red Creek Valley. The game’s challenges are far and few between. It often points out clues to you in the form of a psychic message as words drift across the screen. If you miss some clues, there is a map that tells you which leads to investigate further. If the clues are not challenging enough for you, then the game is still unique and worth playing because of the beautiful, landscape artwork.

  1. Orwell
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Orwell’s literary dystopian warning is brought to life in this game. So beware. Big Brother is watching. In this five-part adventure, Orwell is the name of the program that the government uses to surveil the population. You play as an investigator for the government and analyze any suspicious activity from citizens in order to uncover the culprit responsible for serial bombings. Sort through multiple forms of communication, and decipher which bits of information are reliable facts. If you love conspiracy theories, then this is the game for you.

  1. Blues and Bullets
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Blues and Bullets is another film noir detective story with a twisted historical plot. In the game, you fill the shoes of Eliot Ness, the police detective who busted Al Capone. The game consists of five parts that change history and show us gamers what could have happened if things went differently. After Al Capone, you have a new case to solve. As you venture through gangsterland in the era of prohibition, things are about to get dangerous with unexpected twists, interesting investigations, and a number of shootouts.

  1. L.A. Noire
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L.A Noire is definitely one of the most popular detective games out there. Set in old Hollywood, explore the beautiful city of Los Angeles in its golden era. One of the most fun parts about this game is driving around town and seeing all the famous landmarks and details of the fabulous forties. Some of the cases in the game are based on historical mysteries, such as the Black Dahlia. There are a series of cases to choose from, and you better run fast if you want to chase down those suspects.

  1. The Wolf Among Us
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Welcome to your childhood turned upside down in this game. The Wolf Among Us is based on a comic book series and includes all your favorite fairy tale characters. In a five-part series, you get to play the big bad wolf, who is the sheriff of Fabletown. The first murder in Fabletown has occurred, and it’s up to the big bad wolf to investigate. Wolf out as you identify liars, read facial cues, and collect evidence to build your case.

Detective games are always a thrill. The suspense and action is enough to keep anyone enthralled. No matter what genre you prefer, this list had a little something for everyone from crimes in space to mysteries in fairy tales. If puzzles and brain teasers intrigue you, then explore some of these PC games and exercise your inner detective.

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