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The best detective games on PC 2024

Grab your thinking cap, ready your sidekick, and bring a fresh note book with you. We’re on the case to bring you all the best detective games on PC.


What are the best detective games on PC? We’ve all seen an episode of CSI or Law and Order, read a John Grisham book, or listened to a true crime podcast and thought, “Yeah, I could do that. I could solve the case.” Now you can live out your best detective dream and solve murders, cold cases, and unresolved mysteries through the best detective games on PC – so grab your deerstalker hat and magnifying glass; you’ll need them.

We’ve investigated the best detective games around, from gritty episodic adventures like The Wolf Among Us to old-school point-and-click puzzlers, all with their own unique case-cracking mechanics to test even the cleverest gumshoe. The keen-eye detectives among you may have spotted a few of these titles on our free PC games list. If you’re looking for a sprinkling of sci-fi on your mystery, a touch of fantasy in your murder, or a raw police procedural, then we’ve got you covered with our picks of the best detective games on PC.

Here are the best detective games:

Best detective games: Nico Collard walking alongside the river in Broken Sword.

Broken Sword

Broken Sword isn’t quite Monkey Island in the point-and-click adventure games rankings, but it more than makes up for its lack of pirates, sword fights, and grog, with fiendishly clever puzzles that you’ll spend just long enough pondering before you figure out the correct solution.

The Broken Sword series follows George Stobbart and Nico Collard as they are drawn into dark conspiracies and ancient plots. The writing is sharp and charming, as George and Nico become tangled in all sorts of villainous escapades over the course of the series, meeting and questioning eccentric characters wherever they go. Broken Sword is a wonderfully testing point-and-click adventure series, taking polite murder and intrigue to the romantic and idyllic cobbled streets of Paris and beyond.

Best detective games: a detective questioning a pig in The Wolf Among Us. Both are smoking.

The Wolf Among Us

In this iridescent noir setting, all our childhood fantasies live together in the grimy, crime-infested Fabletown, located in modern-day Manhattan. You take on the role of the Big Bad Wolf, Detective Bigby. In this episodic mystery from Telltale Games, it’s your job to keep the town in order while investigating the violent murders of fairytale characters, using dialogue choices as your primary path to justice.

Your flatmate is a pig with a bad attitude, Mr Toad isn’t taking his Glamor (an enchantment used to disguise fairytale characters from humans), and a severed head has just shown up on your doorstep. You’ll run into familiar characters, including Snow White, the Huntsman, and Sleeping Beauty, as you slowly unwind the mystery of the Fabletown killer. The premise comes across a twee, but in true Telltale fashion, this is a po-faced and somber narrative – there’s not a lot here in terms of casework, but just like in The Walking Dead, your choices have serious and far-reaching consequences.

Best detective games: the ghostly apparition of a person in The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter

This first-person exploration game tells the story of Detective Paul Prospero and his paranormal hunt for missing boy Ethan Carter in Red Creek Valley, Wisconsin. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter wears the Twin Peaks and Village of the Damned influences on its sleeve as you analyze clues and recreate scenes using paranormal observation skills.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is haunting and unsettling, contrasting the natural beauty of the region with the unnerving quest to find the missing boy before it’s too late. You’re free to explore the isolated valley in its entirety, allowing you to explore every nook and cranny to delve deep into the secrets of Red Creek and what really happened to Ethan Carter.

You’ll find tiny clues hidden in the unlikeliest of places, prompting you to venture off the beaten path for more narrative tidbits regularly. Unlike so many other detective games, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter lets you theorize your own conclusion from all of the evidence you unearth. Give our Vanishing of Ethan Carter review a read to discover what we thought about the game.

Best detective games: Sherlock Holmes standing in Baker Street in Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments.

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments

Managing to make players feel as smart as the world’s greatest detective without granting them too many supernatural abilities is no mean feat. In Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, it’s largely up to you to scour the scene for evidence, piece it all together, and point your finger at the correct culprit.

Holmes’ otherworldly intuition will help you out from time to time, but what makes Crimes and Punishments special is how much freedom you’re allowed to get things wrong. It’s possible to luck out and condemn the right crook, but you’ll often be left wondering if you drew the right conclusions or missed a key piece of evidence as you wrap a case.

While the animations and graphics are a bit wobbly, the performances are solid throughout, and each case is steeped in all the mystery and grandeur you’d expect from the novels. It’s not just one of the best detective games; it’s the best Sherlock Holmes game we’ve played in years.

Best Detective games - the private eye protagonist from Discworld Noir.

Discworld Noir

In the seedy underbelly of Ankh Morpork, private investigator Lewton has been hired to investigate a brutal murder in the city and quickly becomes embroiled in a dark and sinister plot. Fans of the Discworld novels will recognize locations and characters in Ankh Morpork, such as The Palace and the City Watch, but unlike the first two Discworld games, Noir takes on an edge of its own, deviating from the usual tone of the series by swapping wizardry and magic for werewolves and jazz bars.

While Rincewind has his trusty luggage to store items, Lewton has a notebook in which to store all clues and slowly cross off each one, opening up places and discovering new threats. There’s something terrifying about the lonely streets that cut through Ankh Morpork, not to mention the spidery characters you’ll meet in its shadowy alcoves. Tracking down a copy and working out how to get it running might be a challenge, but that should be no problem for a master sleuth like yourself.

Best detective games: Manny is talking to the secretary in Grim Fandango.

Grim Fandango

In the world of Grim Fandango, when you die and embark on your journey to the Land of the Dead, you’re assigned a travel agent who determines the mode of transport you take, which is determined by how many good deeds you have completed in the Land of the Living. Enter Manny Cavelera, an afterlife travel agent with a jerk of a boss, a smarmy rival, and a conspiracy to solve.

Manny’s own journey through this point-and-click detective game is both humorous and dark as he becomes a travel agent turned noir detective upon discovering his boss has been rigging the system and damning countless souls to an arduous trek to the Land of the Dead. The characters you meet are loaded with charm and humor, and every new chapter is a feast for the eyes as you explore new locales in the afterlife.

Best detective games: Cole questions a suspect while his partner looks at him in LA Noire.

L.A. Noire

In 1940s L.A., you play as Cole Phelps, a police patrolman turned detective on a mission to work your way up through the police force without deviating from your morals along the way. You comb through crime scenes, question witnesses, and pursue leads until you’ve got a suspect or two who you can interrogate. How well those interrogations go depends entirely on your investigatory nous, the number and quality of clues you’re able to unearth, and your ability to read and react to micro expressions when questioning witnesses and suspects. This is a completely interactive crime drama, replete with all the detail you’d expect from a Rockstar title.

As with any classic noir, there are plenty of surprises along the way, so expect the odd shootout in a Hollywood film studio or a car chase through the iconic flood-control basin. It’s not long before you uncover a major arson case with ramifications that go far beyond the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. If this isn’t enough, there’s also an L.A. Noire VR adventure; check out our L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files review to see how the game adapts to virtual reality.

Best detective games: a street fight in darkness in Disco Elysium.

Disco Elysium

A narrative-driven RPG where you’ll shape your character by assigning skills, clothes, and items as you attempt to solve a gruesome murder with the mother of all hangovers. Disco Elysium adds its spin on procedural police work by letting you use your own hurriedly reassembled mental state to veer wildly off course at any given moment – you’re unconventional, but you get results. It’s a wickedly clever RPG game with dialogue-heavy interactions that are brought to life by some of the sharpest writing in any game we’ve played.

There are multiple ways of deciphering scenarios and progressing the plot, dictated by your character’s muddled-together personality traits. Will you play the professional detective who rocks up in a suave suit or the belligerent drunk who bulldozes through the crime scene in soiled briefs? It’s not hard to see why Disco Elysium was one of 2019’s best PC games. We highly recommend checking out our Disco Elysium review to understand exactly why we love this game so much.

Best detective games: two men walking past a front door in Gemini Rue.

Gemini Rue

In this cyberpunk detective game, you’ll explore the sodden planet Barracus as detective Azriel Odin, stumbling through a rotten world where identities are bought and sold, and people slowly lose their grip on their lives through debt and drug addiction. Azriel’s story is intertwined with another playable character, Delta-Six, a man without a memory who wakes up in a bizarre training facility on the other side of the galaxy.

This moody point-and-click adventure game has plenty of references for sci-fi fans, with Blade Runner and Phillip K. Dick clearly key inspirations for developer Joshua Neurnberger. If you’re a fan of cyberpunk games, pixel art, and bleak dystopian cities, then this grim noir tale is a must.

Best detective games: part of the hull of the ship in Return of the Obra Dinn.

Return of the Obra Dinn

Not all detective games are about police work. In Return of the Obra Dinn – easily one of the best indie games of the decade – you play as an insurance evaluator investigating the disappearance of crew members and passengers from a merchant ship, the titular Obra Dinn. Armed with a pocket watch, you’ll need to solve each individual death, scribbling down clues in your journal as you go and eventually piecing together the tragedy that befell this mysterious ghost ship.

The simplicity of this mystery is in the real detective work, and the hours you’ll need to put in to tie up every loose thread. Instead of unraveling a live murder or ongoing case, you’re working on a proper cold case, scouring through the eerie interior of the vessel for any and all evidence you can get your hands on. Read all about Return of the Obra Dinn in our Game of the Year 2018 discussions.

Best detective games: the Frog Detective answering a phone call.

Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard

All three games in this series are worth playing for their earnest and charming dialogue, not to mention the fact that each one will only take you an hour or so to romp through. Our favorite is Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard, which dumps the greatest detective in the world – who just so happens to be a frog – on another island with plenty of townsfolk to question and hidden objects to discover with a gigantic magnifying glass.

Frog Detective 2 is about as far away from a hardboiled detective drama as you can get while still nominally being about solving mysteries, so if you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, this is a visual treat packed with twee jokes at every turn.

Best detective games: the prosecutor raising an objection in The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles.

The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles

Take a journey back to 19th-century England and Japan as you step into the shoes of rookie lawyer Ryunosuke Naruhodo, one of Phoenix Wright’s ancestors. This collection brings together two Great Ace Attorney Nintendo 3DS titles that were only released in Japan – detective fans can finally learn about Ryunosuke’s wacky adventures involving the legendary Herlock Sholmes.

If you have struggled with detective games in the past, The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is a great place to start, as it features a convenient storytelling mode. This allows you to watch the game like a TV show if you get stuck. Save yourself the confusion and watch the story play out; as soon as you’re ready to play, you can take over at any point.

Best detective games: a view from on high of a built-up settlement.

Paradise Killer

There’s been a murder on Paradise Island. A murder that only you, Lady Love Dies – a self-professed “investigation freak” – can solve. In Paradise Killer, you’ll traverse the otherworldly, assault-on-all-your-senses island looking for clues and, ultimately, a suspect. You’ll have to back up your accusations in court, though, so don’t point that finger willy-nilly.

Best detective games: three people stand in the dark and the rain while ordering food.


A demon has left a trail of carnage in its wake, soaking the streets of New York in blood. You might think this is your main issue with current events, but it turns out that it was using your body to do the murdering – it’s less a ‘whodunnit’ and more of a ‘whatdunnit’. You must join an ancient society, the Unavowed, and fight with them to stop this particular evil. So, gather your team of supernatural detectives and get on the case.

Depending on which companions you take with you, your approach to this detective work may vary – some characters can see ghosts, whereas others can control fire, etc. You can carve your path through this mystery, and it’s a must-play for anyone even slightly detective-inclined.

And that’s our list of the best detective games on PC. If you want something involving fast-paced shootouts and cop simulations, check out our guide to the best police games. We also have a list of the best stealth games if you want to try your hand at becoming a master thief.