The Mystery of Mystery: Playing a New Superhero Recruit
Suit up as a superhero recruit in the cartoon streets of Chicago as a strange plot unfolds from villains unknown in Mystery.
Let’s just say that I’m exploring a few different kinds of solo games and experiences in preparation for a themed October. More details forthcoming! Much as that announcement is shrouded in suspense, I opened up Mystery for the first time. The superhero theme is very prevalent at the moment. Why not embrace it and set out for adventure?!
That’s right: It’s another gamebook from the series of Graphic Novel Adventures! The unique themes and mechanics can lead to some hits and misses. In this journey, you play a superhero recruit trying to make your way up the ranks. On the surface, there are plenty of choices about how to build up your character. Whoosh!
All the Special Powers
A character’s abilities come in the form of 4 powers. Most are self-explanatory, although “Super Rich” is explained as a way to bribe others or access innovative gadgets.
I may need to go double-check the rules, but I thought powers couldn’t exceed 4 points. Hmm… Interesting.
To begin with, 2 power points may be split up between any of these powers. Awesome! I could see plenty of unique ways to get started and build a memorable superhero.
This might have been better if there were little details for each power level. Am I just floating, or can I ZOOM?! Ha!
Meanwhile at HQ…
The introductory scene introduced hilarious characters and some comedic elements. I was so excited about this world! That’s a rarity, because I have a dark secret…
Superhero themes don’t appeal to me. What?! It’s true, and not the easiest thing to admit with them everywhere!
Maybe I just need to go back to the old days. I actually liked playing with action figures and turning them into heroes way back in the day. Can I recapture that fun?
I hoped to try to with this unique sort of adventure. My recruit was just about ready to fly around Chicago!
Before heading to the streets, rooftops, and skies, though, I had an important choice. What did my character look like? I had a trio of options, though anything was possible.
I always like to call out games that try to be more inclusive and diverse. Maybe it’s not perfect, yet it was refreshing to see this selection of options. Nice superhero suits, too!
Superheroes can be very diverse in their powers and abilities, yet appearances sometimes seem uniform.
I couldn’t quite decide on who looked right… I just assumed I could mold my appearance as needed!
From Fun and Excitement to Disappointment
As I progressed through the story to explore every place on the map, it looked like there were specific ability scores that acted as gates. So rather than develop a character, I actually had to follow a specific path towards advancement. I got it to a certain degree but was still a little frustrated. Why leave customization open when it didn’t really matter?
At the same time, maybe I’m simply outside of the target audience. As a child, I think I would have truly enjoyed reading through the adventure and laughing at the scenes. A few were a little questionable, like discovering a superhero putting his underwear on the outside of his suit. Ha ha! So take my experience with a grain of salt. Adults are not kids.
Yet I still like to think I’m a kid at heart! There were some funny and dramatic moments tucked into the storyline. Rather than worry about too much, though, it was still enjoyable to sit there quietly and see the mystery unfold.
A Daring Rescue
Hero Points, oddly labeled HP like hit points, may be earned or even lost based on a character’s actions.
It’s important to collect these because they determine hero ranks. Lower ranks can’t access certain areas of the city, so it’s vital to act like a true superhero. I… Didn’t.
No spoilers, but there was an incident with an ice cream cone. I saved it with a flourish to face the amazed crowd!
Only I went overboard. This was a funny moment when I made the wrong decision. Or was it? Who decided the ice cream didn’t need saving?! So many rules for a hero!
Play Number: 1 and 2
Solo Mode: Designed for Solo (Included in the Base Game)
Required Play Space: 14″ x 18″
Setup Time: Almost None
Play Time: 1 Hour per Play
Outcome: 208 and 579 (1 Win and 1 Loss)
At first, I was a cafeteria worker when I failed to make it to the second rank. Oh, dear! Then I had the ideal path pretty much memorized and made it through my next play at the very top. It was fun, though short-lived and stilted. I really didn’t have a chance to make decisions, unfortunately.
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- There are a handful of comedic moments sprinkled throughout the adventure that poke fun at superheroes.
- Despite the reusability being low, there are some interesting scenes to uncover for the first time.
- The illustrations capture the superhero genre very well and often feature the character’s gloved hand.
- All of the sample characters are diverse and make it seem like anyone can be a superhero or even a regular hero.
- It may be a small point, yet the way the panels are randomly divided makes accidental cheating very difficult.
- Finding a few hidden or disguised elements can be very fun, particularly when a discovery leads to something big.
– Cons (Negatives)
- There is only a single main path forward in terms of abilities and how to allocate points, which is very limiting.
- Although the map is presented in an open-world fashion, there aren’t branching storylines nor many side quests.
- It’s very easy to miss a couple of vital ways to advance early on, which can lead to getting stuck at a low rank.
- The optimal path is simple to learn and utilize in just a couple of plays so that there is little reason to play more.
Continue the Conversation
Have you played through Mystery? Perhaps there are a lot of fun times to be had for the right player! Are there other gamebooks you like to play? I’ll return to this genre at some point, although as I hinted at earlier, October is going to have an interesting slew of games… A theme month, if you will. Prepare for plenty of solo game goodness ahead!