Scooby Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion – Help Out those Meddling Kids!
Jinkies! Scooby Doo is ready to solve a mystery.
The Mystery Machine breaks down and Mystery Inc, our favorite teenage detectives, have to go for help to the nearest house. Of course it’s a creepy mansion, and of course it’s haunted – this is Scooby Doo!
Scooby Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion is a Coded Chronicles game from The Op. It’s an escape-room-like game for any number of players, ages 12+, and takes around 2 hours to play.
How to Play
Opening the box, you’ll find map tiles, a deck of cards, “secret envelopes”, and a set of matching books & character standees.
The Mystery Manual (“Read Me First”) explains how to play. Map tiles and revealed cards have numbers on them. Line up a character standee to a 3-digit number and look up the resulting 4-digit number in that character’s book.
Each character has a different ability: Velma can research, Fred can investigate, Scooby can smell, Daphne can use… and Shaggy can eat (naturally). Players work together to determine which character to use to accomplish various goals.
The character books tell you what happens whenever you combine the numbers. You may find helpful clues and items (in the deck of cards), open a door (reveal new map tiles), or get more information. But if you try to combine numbers blindly, you may run into a dead-end. Then you have to mark off a “Scooby Snack” as a penalty before you try again.
Explore the house, solve the mystery, and unmask the villian!
Scooby Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion is well-crafted. The books “sound” just like the characters, and each character’s abilities are in keeping with classic Scooby Doo. Try using the right voices too; if you succeed, better immersion! If you fail, it’s still hilarious!
The book text, rooms, and cards reveal just the right amount of information: enough to be engaging without overwhelming us with options. Some did seem a little far-fetched, while others were clues that we’d already figured out; but most were both interesting and helpful.
The “secret envelopes” hide all sorts of items to help you solve the mystery… and the books helpfully tell you how to put away the secret items when you’re all done with them.
The character standees weren’t great. You fold out the bottom, but they didn’t want to sit flat for us, especially when we were moving them around on the room tiles. But in the end, it didn’t really matter, because you don’t need to be accurate with the placement; the standees are mostly just there to remind players which characters are available and which book to read.
A Coded Chronicles Game
Scooby Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion is a Coded Chronicles game, which iterates on the already well-hewn path of narrative mystery games: the Unlock series, EXIT Boxes, the Adventure Games, and more. But Coded Chronicles distributes narrative responsibility for all of the characters to all of the players.
This means players stay positively engaged and avoid the negative ramifications of one character getting singled out. If a player feels left out, give them a different narrative book to read. You’ll immediately bring a jilted player back into the action without impacting the gameplay or the story.
What makes Scooby Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion special?
Since you rarely have all five Mystery Inc. characters available at the same time, you must look for unusual solutions. A puzzle that can only be solved by Shaggy’s eating ability? Zoinks!
It’s satisfying to figure out the mystery, and reveal of the true identity of the “ghost”. The ending feels just right, like an episode of vintage Scooby Doo. Our kids haven’t had much exposure to Scooby Doo, but they still enjoyed the family-friendly mystery and unusual puzzles to solve.
The entire game takes 2 hours or more to finish (at least when playing with kids), but it’s broken into 3 sections. You don’t have to play it all in one sitting! We did a one-hour session and then a second session that went slightly longer. The Op even included an oversized envelope to put all of your pieces in if you want to put the game away after finishing a chapter.
It’s difficult to put a finger on one specific thing this game does differently that helps it rise above its competitors. From Jinkies to Meddling, this is a well-crafted game with an appropriate story and clever challenges. The group control and character investment is probably the element that made our kids so immediately eager to dive back into the world of Scooby Doo. Even though nobody was judging them for making a wrong decision, we achieved true teamwork by sharing responsibility for the characters.
Don’t let Scooby Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion be a secret for you. You can find it on Amazon or at your friendly local game store!
The Family Gamers received a copy of Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion from The Op for this review.
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Scooby Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion
Age Range: 12+ (family friendly, appropriate for 8+ with older help)
Number of Players: 1+
Playtime: about 2 hours