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Scooby-Doo Escape from the Haunted Mansion

It’s going to take all the talents of Mystery, Inc. to solve the mystery of Lady Fairmont’s ghost and escape the haunted mansion!

Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion is the first game to use The Op’s new Coded Chronicles game system. It’s a mystery meets escape room, with a nostalgic theme. So how does it live up to all this potential?

Gameplay

There are five character standees and five booklets, one for each member of the Scooby Gang. The game comes with eight sealed envelopes, a stack of map tiles and a stack of clue cards (both of these are kept face-down until you are instructed to draw them).

Gameplay is simple: there will be items on the map tiles and the clue cards that will show three numbers. Each of the five character standees has a unique action (Velma researches, Daphne uses, Scooby smells, etc) and a number. To interact with something, you place the character whose ability you wish to use in front of that item’s number, so that the character’s number is in front. If you now have a four digit number, you look it up in that specific character’s booklet and read aloud the corresponding paragraph. If you only have a two or three digit number, it means you will have to add one or more numbers from items you collect during the game until you have a four digit number. If this then sends you to a paragraph in the booklet, you used the correct items.

If you ever look up a number in a booklet and it does not correlate to a paragraph, you mark off a Scooby Snack on the tracker in the rulebook. If you get stuck, you can also mark off a Scooby Snack in order to look up a hint. At the end of the game, the more Scooby Snacks your team left unmarked, the higher your score.

The paragraphs you read will often tell you which clue cards to reveal or which map tiles to add to the board, and when to open the secret envelopes. Some clue cards are item cards that you will take with you and can use to solve puzzles. Others are simply kept face-up on the table with items you can interact with.

Players do not each control their own character, nor are all the characters always in play. The booklet will often tell you when to add characters to the board or when to remove them. Players make decisions together, discuss ideas, and collectively control the characters.

The game is divided into two chapters, so that players may save their progress after the first chapter and come back another night, or may choose to continue and complete the game in one sitting.

Scooby Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion

Review

Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion does a great job of capturing the spirit of the original show. You can easily imagine the characters speaking the lines as you read them out from the booklets, and you are even given a mystery to solve, in addition to the puzzles you’re working on to escape.

The game encourages you to explore and try different things. While your score goes down if you look up a number in a booklet and there’s no corresponding paragraph, this almost never happens unless you are solidly on the wrong track. It is a bit arbitrary sometimes, which character has to interact with an object in order to actually make progress and draw new cards, but using the wrong character action almost never results in a penalty (we weren’t even penalized when we wanted to see what would happen if we told Scrappy to eat a doorknob!) and often gives you a hint as to who the game does want you to use.

Difficulty is always subjective when it comes to puzzles and riddles but we did find that Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion is on the easier side of escape room games we’ve played. It’s not so easy as to feel unsatisfying when you solve a puzzle, however, and it does feel more accessible. While adults can absolutely play this game alone and have a fun time with it, it did feel more family-friendly then some of the other puzzle games.

There’s a nice variety to the puzzles, and the eight secret envelopes were mysterious and a ton of fun to work our way through. We were always excited when we got to open another! The game also is very clear about telling you when you will no longer need a card or have done all you can with an item and can return it to the box. The components are mostly good quality, though we would have preferred if the character standees had plastic bases. But the rules are clear, and we did not encounter any bugs or mistakes in the number system.

You can really only play Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion once, but it’s easy to return to its start condition and pass it along to a friend. It captures the spirit of the show quite nicely, and is a fun, more casual entry into the puzzle genre. It is the first game in the Coded Chronicles game system, and we’re excited to play future games that use this system, as it’s easy to use but can still present intriguing puzzles.

Pros: Accessible, quite thematic, good range of puzzles, easy to reset

Cons: More experienced puzzle fans may find it on the easy side, the character standees could be upgraded

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.