I've been reading through Mutant City Blues, and I really like their approach to mystery, clues, and investigation. The other Gumshoe games as similar, but with a few minor goal differences. It's not enough to simply track down your suspect and dispatch the evildoer. In Mutant City Blues you play the role of a cop also trying to gather evidence that can be used in a court of law. It's not enough to know who the bad guy is. You have to be able to prove it.
Since the focus of the system is on investigation, the mechanics take two different approaches to character actions. Non-investigative skills and powers get rolls, target numbers, and degrees of risk where chance and strategy play a delicate balance that keep the game action suspenseful. It appears that chase scenes are taken to a whole new level that most games merely gloss over.
Investigative abilities use their own mechanic where success is based on being at the right place with the right skill. The skills determine which clues a particular investigator might gain, and conclusions are left up to player speculation. In a way, this part of the system is one that many of us GM's have used in our own games. So, you might find this approach to investigation familiar in odd but refreshing ways. They've merely formalized much of what we've been doing for years and organized it in a meaningful way.
A couple things of note:
- Character generation does an excellent job of tuning a gaming group into an investigative team.
- Powers are rigidly structured and restricted to a genetic map, which means creating your favorite comic book character will most likely not be possible.
I can't wait to try it. Now, if only I had the time to play this game.