20 votes

Openish-world, Mystery, Walking Simulator recommendations?

My wife and I enjoy playing mystery walking simulators together and have been looking for more-- Steam's recommendation engine is pretty terrible in finding others or lesser-known titles, so I thought I'd ask around for what others play! They don't have to be full-on walking simulators, just games where dying is rare/not a big component of the experience (looking at you, Visage!), and the rest of the game is all about solving a mystery/thriller of some sort. Preferably first-person games with realistic-enough graphics.

Ones we've played so far and have loved are:

  • Dead Secret
  • Gone Home (loose fit)
  • The Painscreek Killings (really loved this one)
  • The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

Ones I've got in my queue:

  • Anna
  • Bohemian Killing
  • Dead Secret 2
  • Return of Obra Dinn

I've also played What Remains of Edith Finch, Dear Esther, Firewatch, and some others-- but those didn't really have a big enough mystery component to them (to be clear I liked them, they just didn’t have a dark/thriller vibe to em).

Any other suggestions?

33 comments

  1. [7]
    cfabbro
    (edited )
    Link
    I love these sorts of games too, and actually have an entire category in my Steam library for "Narrative/Exploration/Walking-sim" games. But other than ones you have mentioned already, the only...
    • Exemplary

    I love these sorts of games too, and actually have an entire category in my Steam library for "Narrative/Exploration/Walking-sim" games. But other than ones you have mentioned already, the only other game I can think of that fits your particular criteria (first person, realistic environment, no death) is The Stanley Parable.

    But if you were to expand that criteria, I would also add ABZÛ, GRIS, Murdered: Sole Suspect, Life is Strange, Little Nightmares, LIMBO, Silence of the Sleep, INSIDE, and maybe The Void to the list as well. And if you are willing to go down the P&C adventure game route there are also a ton of really good atmospheric, slower paced, walking-sim-ish, mystery games in that genre, e.g. Syberia, The Longest Journey + Dreamfall, The Wolf Among Us, etc.

    Edit: There are also quite a few puzzle games with a similar feel to them as well, e.g. The Witness, The Room, The Talos Principle, The Turing Test, etc.

    9 votes
    1. [3]
      Douglas
      Link Parent
      Thank you for this list! You have good taste/I've played a lot of those games myself! She's more about the mystery/thriller angle more than just straight-up puzzles -- but I will absolutely look...

      Thank you for this list! You have good taste/I've played a lot of those games myself! She's more about the mystery/thriller angle more than just straight-up puzzles -- but I will absolutely look into the more puzzle-heavy titles you'd listed that I haven't played. Nothing has compared to The Witness, imo-- I really enjoyed that experience.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        cfabbro
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        NP and thanks for the compliment! You clearly have pretty good taste too. :P And I would wholeheartedly recommend checking out The Talos Principle, at the very least, since it has a very similar...

        NP and thanks for the compliment! You clearly have pretty good taste too. :P And I would wholeheartedly recommend checking out The Talos Principle, at the very least, since it has a very similar feel to The Witness, IMO.

        3 votes
        1. joplin
          Link Parent
          Have to agree. The Witness and Talos Principle were excellent! I also really liked LIMBO and INSIDE.

          Have to agree. The Witness and Talos Principle were excellent! I also really liked LIMBO and INSIDE.

          3 votes
    2. [3]
      KapteinB
      Link Parent
      Have you played Draugen? It's by the same studio that made Dreamfall, but might be more what OP is looking for.

      Have you played Draugen? It's by the same studio that made Dreamfall, but might be more what OP is looking for.

      2 votes
      1. cfabbro
        Link Parent
        Draugen has been on my wishlist for a while now, but no, I unfortunately haven't had a chance to play it yet. And the only reason I didn't recommend it is that I only wanted to mention games I...

        Draugen has been on my wishlist for a while now, but no, I unfortunately haven't had a chance to play it yet. And the only reason I didn't recommend it is that I only wanted to mention games I have actually played and can personally vouch for. But I agree it's probably going to be something very close to what @Douglas is looking for.

        1 vote
      2. Douglas
        Link Parent
        Oooh, this looks nice, and I DID love Dreamfall. I’ll check it out!

        Oooh, this looks nice, and I DID love Dreamfall. I’ll check it out!

        1 vote
  2. [4]
    balooga
    Link
    This might be an offbeat suggestion, but have you played Myst? It's very much a non-violent mystery exploration game. If you've never played it before, avoid spoilers. Myst's original incarnation...

    This might be an offbeat suggestion, but have you played Myst?

    It's very much a non-violent mystery exploration game. If you've never played it before, avoid spoilers. Myst's original incarnation is 26 years old hasn't aged well in a lot of ways. It has been recently remastered (again, lol) and is available as "realMyst: Masterpiece Edition." Might be worth a look if you missed it before. It was called an "adventure game" in its day but in hindsight it could be called the inventor of the walking sim genre.

    6 votes
    1. [3]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      I played the original and just noticed they have it for the iPhone, so I downloaded it. I remembered far less of it than I thought, and I have far less patience than I did when it first came out....

      I played the original and just noticed they have it for the iPhone, so I downloaded it. I remembered far less of it than I thought, and I have far less patience than I did when it first came out. I solved the game something like 25 years ago, but playing through it again, I keep thinking, "WTF is the clue I'm missing on how to solve this puzzle? I mean, I can see that I have to put in a certain number, or find a certain constellation, or whatever, but there are very few places in the game that look anything like clues related to that..." I actually brute-forced a couple of the puzzles because it was much easier to do than figuring out how it worked. I should probably look up whatever it was I was supposed to uncover to solve those puzzles.

      I also downloaded Riven which I remember being blown away by, but haven't gotten to it yet. I hope I'm not let down by my positive memories of it.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        balooga
        Link Parent
        I too have a lot less patience for games like Myst now than I did then. I'm not entirely comfortable with the implication of that, but it's where we are. I like that Myst's puzzles require actual...

        I too have a lot less patience for games like Myst now than I did then. I'm not entirely comfortable with the implication of that, but it's where we are.

        I like that Myst's puzzles require actual note-taking and deduction. There are no arrows pointing you to your next goal, and the mystery is obtuse and all-encompassing. Unfortunately time has proven that the game is a lot easier to play after you've completed it once, even if that was decades ago. Its diabolical puzzles are a lot simpler once you know the trick; discovering that trick when the game doesn't spoon-feed it to you is often the real puzzle. I do wish I could experience it fresh again as I did in the '90s.

        I haven't actually played it in a while. I still have the original Mac version, which I can play even better on modern hardware than I could on my old Mac, through the miracle of emulation. It's a good nostalgia trip. I never played any of the sequels, but I think without a proper realMyst-style remaster I wouldn't want to approach them now.

        3 votes
        1. joplin
          Link Parent
          I ended up looking up what I was missing. It turns out there's a bug in the iOS version where a certain item on a certain map is supposed to blink, but doesn't. Once I had that information, much...

          I ended up looking up what I was missing. It turns out there's a bug in the iOS version where a certain item on a certain map is supposed to blink, but doesn't. Once I had that information, much of what I was missing fell into place.

          I too have a lot less patience for games like Myst now than I did then. I'm not entirely comfortable with the implication of that, but it's where we are.

          Well, to be fair, both the hardware and games in general have come a long way in 25 years. When we first got a TiVo in the 90s, I started recording anything that looked remotely interesting on TV, and ended up watching a bunch of older movies I always wanted to see but never got around to. It turns out that older movies feel glacially slow and boring in a lot of ways. Modern movies have so much action and music, even when they're not blockbusters. But stuff from the 40s to the 70s tend to have minimal music because it was really expensive to produce. I think games are in a similar boat. We now have games that contain gigabytes of geometry, music, and video, and Myst was really of the first generation where that was even possible.

          2 votes
  3. [7]
    EditingAndLayout
    Link
    Check out: Quern Obduction Her Story

    Check out:

    • Quern
    • Obduction
    • Her Story
    5 votes
    1. [4]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      I enjoyed Obduction, but was let down by the ending. Apparently there's one place towards the end of the game where you make a choice that changes the ending. I ended up getting the "bummer"...

      I enjoyed Obduction, but was let down by the ending. Apparently there's one place towards the end of the game where you make a choice that changes the ending. I ended up getting the "bummer" ending, so went online and looked it up. There was one thing I was supposed to do, and at the time tried to do, but the game made it seem like it wasn't possible, and I was able to move on without doing it. It really ticked me off!

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        asoftbird
        Link Parent
        Honestly didn't like any of the endings. That one alien world felt super rushed as well, being basically an empty space with one interactable item. l hope Firmament will be a better game.

        Honestly didn't like any of the endings. That one alien world felt super rushed as well, being basically an empty space with one interactable item. l hope Firmament will be a better game.

        1 vote
        1. [2]
          joplin
          Link Parent
          Thank you! I thought the exact same thing about that world. I was like, aliens supposedly live here, but there are no structures at all in this world. There are no plants or animals. Everything is...

          Thank you! I thought the exact same thing about that world. I was like, aliens supposedly live here, but there are no structures at all in this world. There are no plants or animals. Everything is made out of the same volcanic rock. Who thought this up?

          2 votes
          1. asoftbird
            Link Parent
            l think they actually ran out of time or funding there, l've heard that before. Shame, but oh well. It was nice to see Cyan actually make a game again. First time l played it, l used my old pc;...

            l think they actually ran out of time or funding there, l've heard that before. Shame, but oh well. It was nice to see Cyan actually make a game again.

            First time l played it, l used my old pc; slow 5400rpm hard drives and i7 920 from ~2009.
            Loading some worlds took up to 15 minutes, which sucked since there's levels where you teleport back and forth dozens of times.

            2 votes
    2. [2]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Never heard of Quern or Obduction before, but they both look really interesting. I will have to check them out. Thanks for the recommendations. p.s. If people liked Her Story, the follow up game...

      Never heard of Quern or Obduction before, but they both look really interesting. I will have to check them out. Thanks for the recommendations.

      p.s. If people liked Her Story, the follow up game by the same dev, Telling Lies, is supposed to be decent, and another game that is supposedly similar to them is Orwell: Keeping an Eye On You... though I haven't had a chance to play either myself yet.

      2 votes
      1. kfwyre
        Link Parent
        I can second Quern. It's excellent. I put it as a close third behind The Witness and The Talos Principle for first-person puzzle games I've loved.

        I can second Quern. It's excellent. I put it as a close third behind The Witness and The Talos Principle for first-person puzzle games I've loved.

        2 votes
  4. grahamiam
    (edited )
    Link
    /u/cfabbro has a great list. The missing one that stands out is Firewatch, which I loved. Kentucky Route Zero is also great with similar storytelling, but point- and- click with minimalistic...

    /u/cfabbro has a great list. The missing one that stands out is Firewatch, which I loved. Kentucky Route Zero is also great with similar storytelling, but point- and- click with minimalistic graphics.

    Edit: Sorry, didn't see you list Firewatch as one you didn't like.

    5 votes
  5. [3]
    Deimos
    (edited )
    Link
    It definitely doesn't fit with your "preferably first-person games with realistic-enough graphics" request, but if you're not opposed to anime-style and some of the tropes (and baggage) that tend...

    It definitely doesn't fit with your "preferably first-person games with realistic-enough graphics" request, but if you're not opposed to anime-style and some of the tropes (and baggage) that tend to come along with that, there are some excellent options for mystery games.

    The Danganronpa games are really good overall, with some great mysteries and twists (as with all mystery games, be really careful about reading reviews or looking up much about them, there are so many spoilers).

    The Phoenix Wright series is all pretty great too, and not nearly as dark as Danganronpa and the other series I'm going to recommend.

    The Zero Escape games are somewhat similar in style to Danganronpa, and also highly regarded (I haven't played them yet myself, I keep meaning to).

    The creator of Zero Escape also put out AI: The Somnium Files this year.

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      trobertson
      Link Parent
      I want to second the Danganronpa recommendation. I've moved very far away from anime in the past decade or so, but the 3 main Danganronpa games (1, 2, V3) really shine in spite of the anime-ness....

      I want to second the Danganronpa recommendation. I've moved very far away from anime in the past decade or so, but the 3 main Danganronpa games (1, 2, V3) really shine in spite of the anime-ness. And if you like anime, well, you just found a near-perfect set of games.

      3 votes
      1. Douglas
        Link Parent
        I DID like Pheonix Wright back in the day, I may check out those others on my own— thanks!

        I DID like Pheonix Wright back in the day, I may check out those others on my own— thanks!

        1 vote
  6. [3]
    moocow1452
    (edited )
    Link
    Fast track Obra Dinn if you're really into the mystery element. I really was into Edith Finch, but of that didn't scratch your itch, you may want to try Outer Wilds. It's a little more involved...

    Fast track Obra Dinn if you're really into the mystery element. I really was into Edith Finch, but of that didn't scratch your itch, you may want to try Outer Wilds. It's a little more involved than your average walking sim game, but it's kind of similar to the Myst Adventure Game genre, but first person. It's on Gamepass for PC and console, and also for sale on consoles and Epic for PC if you wish to own it.

    4 votes
    1. Douglas
      Link Parent
      To be clear I really liked Edith Finch (my kingdom for that house!), it just didn’t feel like a thriller/mystery by the end. More like a cozy, sad story. I’ll check out Outer Wilds!

      To be clear I really liked Edith Finch (my kingdom for that house!), it just didn’t feel like a thriller/mystery by the end. More like a cozy, sad story. I’ll check out Outer Wilds!

      2 votes
    2. Deimos
      Link Parent
      It's not on Game Pass for PC, only available through Epic Store for PC still at this point.

      It's not on Game Pass for PC, only available through Epic Store for PC still at this point.

      1 vote
  7. mrbig
    Link
    Journey

    Journey

    3 votes
  8. kfwyre
    Link
    INFRA might be up your alley.

    INFRA might be up your alley.

    3 votes
  9. SkewedSideburn
    Link
    I'd suggest Pathologic 2 -- there's a mystery (not in the same vein as "murder mystery", more like the whole world around you is mysterious) and there's a lot of walking and it is absolutely my...

    I'd suggest Pathologic 2 -- there's a mystery (not in the same vein as "murder mystery", more like the whole world around you is mysterious) and there's a lot of walking and it is absolutely my second favourite game of 2019 (Disco Elysium came in later and stolen top 1)-- but it's also a very hard and very punishing survival game.

    3 votes
  10. Eylrid
    Link
    Tangentially related: Polygon just released a video ranking walking simulators by how good the walking is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQst_UtBj6c

    Tangentially related: Polygon just released a video ranking walking simulators by how good the walking is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQst_UtBj6c

    2 votes
  11. Pistos
    Link
    This isn't a genre I'm drawn to, but I did enjoy Heavy Rain. Be careful when reading reviews on this, because if you read a spoiler about the ending, it'll really dampen your experience of the...

    This isn't a genre I'm drawn to, but I did enjoy Heavy Rain. Be careful when reading reviews on this, because if you read a spoiler about the ending, it'll really dampen your experience of the game and story as a whole.

  12. [2]
    wundumguy
    Link
    No one said Fire Watch yet? What the f

    No one said Fire Watch yet? What the f

    1. cfabbro
      Link Parent
      From OP:

      From OP:

      I've also played What Remains of Edith Finch, Dear Esther, Firewatch, and some others-- but those didn't really have a big enough mystery component to them.

      5 votes