5 Minute Mystery

5-Minute Mystery

Designer: Connor Reid

Artist: Cam Kendell

Publisher: Wiggles 3D

Year Published: 2020

No. of Players: 1-4

Ages: 8+

Playing Time: 5-30 Minutes

Main Mechanic / Theme: Murder-Mystery/Cooperative

5-Minute Mystery does an excellent job of creating a tense and engaging cooperative experience with a perfect blend of deduction, pattern matching, and real-time symbol searching challenges. 

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com / Kickstarter


5-Minute Mystery is a fun and fast cooperative game of finding clues and solving mysteries for 1 to 4 players.

Gameplay and Mechanics:

Setup: 5-Minute Mystery includes an introductory mission that helps players quickly familiarize themselves with the primary mechanisms at play in the game. To get started, players draw the first mission card, shuffle and draw a single culprit tile, and shuffle/deal all culprit cards evenly among players. One player will assume the role of the codex operator before the round begins.5 Minute Mystery Components 2

Gameplay: One player will start the timer and reveal the top art card. Players then race to find all 5 symbols hidden in the artwork. These symbols are often presented as shadows or more cleverly integrated into the artwork (e.g. engravings in statues, writing on walls, etc.). Once all symbols are identified and positioned on top of the codex, the art card is flipped so that the symbol sequence can be compared to the codex. If correct, players gain 1 of 4 clue types which represent attributes of the culprits (e.g. skin/fur/feathers, clothing, accessories, etc.). If incorrect, players simply discard the card and start again on the next art card. Clues tokens include a barcode pattern that is compared to the pattern printed on the back of the culprit token. If they match, players can eliminate all culprits that do NOT depict the attribute of that clue. Players continue this process until they feel that they've correctly identified the culprit or time has run out. 

5 Minute Mystery Components

Theme, Artwork and Illustration, Graphic Design

5-Minute Mystery does an incredible job of integrating theme and mechanics. The process of eliminating culprits via identifying clues is very clever and I would love to see the pattern-matching mechanism in more games. The artwork and graphic design for this game are excellent. Those familiar with Wiggles 3D's productions of 5-Minute Dungeon and 5-Minute Marvel will notice the similar quality of this game's illustrations and components. This game's codex is its most impressive component. With each turn of its wheels, the codex creates a satisfying clicking sound that I really appreciated from a sensory standpoint.


What Worked & What Didn't:

The design of this game has something special in that you could essentially draw a random culprit tile and dive into play without even bothering with the mission deck. However, including these mission cards allows players to craft a unique experience with variable difficulty settings each time. From the few games we've played of this, the mission cards add a ton of variety to the feel of the game. Some missions require you to simple find the culprit while others also require you to discover specific clue tokens (which are typically drawn at random). My only criticism of this game is the size the of art cards. Because players are meant to look at the same card together, its smaller size forces players to get up close and personal with each other. I suppose players could take turns examining cards while other players handle the codex and selection of clue tokens; however, I would have appreciated these art cards being 2x larger so that everyone could clearly view the artwork from across a small gaming table.


Final thoughts:

5-Minute Mystery does an excellent job of creating a tense and engaging cooperative experience with a perfect blend of deduction, pattern matching, and real-time symbol searching challenges. There is a ton of replay value in this box and I could see 5-Minute Mystery sticking around in our collection indefinitely.