The mystery genre is one of my favorites, so I often find myself drawn to detective games. Thankfully, there are many excellent indie mystery games that also happen to be inexpensive. Here are the indie games that I recommend if you, too, enjoy solving mysteries on a budget.
1. The Darkside Detective
The Darkside Detective is already widely lauded, but it still earns a place in this article because its reputation is well-deserved. If you enjoy a classic point-and-click detective adventure, this is the title for you. The Darkside Detective is ludicrous with intentionality, beautifully balancing humor, mystery, and paranormal weirdness. The game never takes itself too seriously and is self-aware from start to finish. It is best described as goofy chaos.
The Darkside Detective costs $12.99 USD and is available for PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Mac, and Linux (http://darksidedetective.com/). Although it is well worth the full price, it often goes on sale (my copy was only $2.99).
2. Kathy Rain
Kathy Rain is a point-and-click title that takes places in the '90s, and its energy feels simultaneously fresh and nostalgic. The game's core reflects upon Kathy's navigation through young adulthood. As she tries to discover the cause of her grandfather's mental decline and eventual death, Kathy is forced to overcome challenges from her past. Puzzles add interest to otherwise simple mechanics, while supporting characters complement Kathy's curiosity and angst.
Kathy Rain costs $14.99 and is available for PC, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS, and Linux. In my opinion, it is worth the full price.
3. Night Call
Night Call's unique point of view and alluring noir style make it ideal for this list. As Hussein, a Paris taxi driver, you must use your people skills to gather information from across the city. The game allows you to interact with a diverse array of passengers as you search for clues to hunt the serial killer that nearly ended your life. You have 5 nights to identify the killer before the crooked cop who propositioned you sends you back to prison. As I mentioned in my review, the highlight of Night Call is the passenger interactions, which are endlessly interesting and thoughtfully crafted.
Night Call is the most expensive game on this list, with a $19.99 USD price tag. The full price is a bit steep in my opinion, but it occasionally goes on sale. It's available for PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.
Virginia's strengths lie in its beautiful environments and compelling style. When I think of this game, I think of gorgeous autumn scenery - colorful tree-lined roads and awesome wildlife. The two main characters (FBI agents Anne Tarver and Maria Halperin) and the evolution of their relationship over time are also praiseworthy. The player experiences the story through Anne's memories, which jump between different times and places. Although the jumps are abrupt and at times disorienting, Virginia is still worth your time.
Virginia is $9.99 USD and is available on PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One. It is often steeply discounted, and I recommend waiting to buy it on sale.
Set in a futuristic world, Lacuna delivers a mix of rewarding investigative achievements and painful moral dilemmas. Lacuna, like other strong games in the genre, forces the player to separate emotions from pragmatism to unlock the best possible outcomes. As Neil Conrad, an agent of the Central Department of Investigation (CDI), you must investigate a high-profile murder that jeopardizes interplanetary stability. Neil's refusal to travel by car allows the player to enjoy their time walking between locations, topped off with pleasant music and sound design.
The mechanics are mostly simple and are suitable for casual gamers. Player decisions strongly influence the game's ending, which bodes well for its replay value. Although Lacuna normally costs $15.99, the price frequently dips below $10 during sales. The game is available on PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 & 5, and Xbox One.
If you love mystery games as well, I hope you enjoy the above recommendations. Feel free to connect with Indie Game Atlas on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook if you want to see more recommendations and game guides.