Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion is a Coded Chronicles game by Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim, published by The Op. It is for 1 or more players. In this game, players will be taking on the role of the characters from Mystery Inc.; Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby. They will need to work together to figure out the many different puzzles as they search for a way out of the haunted mansion. They’ll have to be careful though as Lady Fairmont’s ghost is looking to scare them silly. In the end, the players that can solve the mystery and escape the Haunted Mansion will be declared the winners and will have a fitting end to their adventure.
Before I start, let me state that I will do my best in this review to make sure and keep the spoilers of the game to a very bare minimum. That means that I will only reveal things on a need to know basis and only those things that will be discovered in the first few moments of playing. Everything else will be left to discover on your own.
To begin, all of the character narrative books are equally distributed between all the different players. If playing with younger children, it’s advised for parents to do the majority of the reading. The stack of Map tiles should be placed face down near the middle of the play area in numerical order. The deck of Clue cards should also be placed face down next to the Map tiles in numerical order. The character standees and Secret Envelopes should be placed where all players may easily access them. Players may look at the outside of the Secret Envelopes but should not open them until instructed to do so while playing the game. When players are ready, Fred’s narrative book may be opened and Entry 5000 may be read aloud. Play now begins.
Once the entry for the story has been read, the actual game begins. The game starts you out by placing the first map tile which has you trapped in a room with only a few things around you and one character to use. From there, other cards and map tiles will be introduced into the game, along with the other characters, as you find them. As you play, you’ll be instructed where to place these in relation to other tiles and such. It should be noted that whenever a decision must be made, players should agree on the course of action before preceding.
As you play you’ll need to use the special abilities of each of the characters to better explore the mansion and each of the rooms and items inside. Velma can research, meaning she can dig deeper or figure out more of what’s going on. Shaggy can eat, meaning he can choose to eat something that he finds. Daphne can use, which allows her to manipulate certain objects or activate them to be able to make them work. Scooby-Doo can smell, so that he can get the scent of something to follow or even determine what something has in it. Fred can investigate, which means he can take a closer look at something or possibly even build a trap from it. For any of the characters to use their abilities, the players simply take that character’s standee and places it next to the beginning of the number on the map tile or clue card that they want to use the ability on. Each character has a number on their standee which is added to the 3 digit number to create a 4 digit code that the player can then look up in that character’s corresponding book. That particular Narrative book’s entry is then read aloud by the player with that character’s book. Sometimes there will only be a 1 or 2 digit number on the map tile or clue card. In these cases, players will need to find more digits to be added to these smaller numbers to create a 3 digit number. Any character that has access to that location can then add their character number to the beginning of these 3 digits to create the required 4 digit code. The character’s number must always be first, however the 1 and 2 digit numbers may be arranged either way. The 1 digit can precede the 2 digit or vice versa.
As the game is played players will find clue cards with a blue border on them. These cards are item cards that may be carried with the characters throughout the adventure, until they’re told to discard them. When reading through the narrative books, they may also be instructed to eat a Scooby Snack. This will affect the player’s score at the end of the game. Usually this will only happen if a player tries to solve a puzzle incorrectly. When this happens, the player simply marks a Scooby Snack off on the back of the rulebook, or marks it down on a blank sheet of paper if they choose not to write on the rulebook.
The game continues until the end of chapter 1 or until players have completed the game. The game provides instructions on how to pack up the game for completing the game later. Once the game is completed, players will check the Scooby Snack tracker on the back of the rulebook. Depending on how many Scooby Snacks they had to eat, marking them off on the tracker, will determine the player’s end game score. Players must also escape the Haunted Mansion to get a better score, although there are short lines of text to complete the adventure for both based on the player’s score.
One last thing should be noted, the last page of the rulebook has a list of hints that may be used during the game. The hints are based on the character’s location. The first two hints are free to use but should only be used if player’s are stuck. Any further hints will spoil future puzzles and will cause the players to eat a Scooby Snack. All of these hints are read from their corresponding narrative book.
While I won’t be covering every component of the game, due to spoilers, I will do my best to give you some idea of what you can expect. First off what I’ll tell you is all that you’ll uncover once you open the box. The game comes with 5 Narrative Books. Each one of these is bright and colorful and has the character’s name and picture on the cover, along with their character number and the range of entries in their book. The character’s number is also found on the character’s standee. The books are easy to look through and find the specific entry that you’re looking for to read. There are 13 map tiles for the game which are large square cards. These should not be looked at or flipped over until told to do so, to save on spoiling the mystery. The game also has a deck of tarot sized Clue cards. These also should not be looked at or flipped over until told to reveal a specific card. These map and clue cards have numbers on them. The narrative books will instruct you on when to flip one of these over. The tiles and cards have thematic artwork that fits in well with the cartoon look and feel of the game. Sometimes there will be puzzles that will need to be solved from these tiles or cards and the artwork does a great job of giving you that mystery type feel. Further into the box, players will discover the 8 Secret Envelopes. These are large square envelopes with instructions on the front that players are not to open until instructed to do so. Each one has a specific number on it and is sealed with a sticker. Each envelope has some various items inside including cards or other puzzle related items. Needless to say, there’s a lot to discover on your own so I’ll leave it at that. Finally there are the character standees. These have the iconic characters on them along with their character number and name of their ability. These are made of thick paper and are made to be folded at the bottom so that they can stand up. I kind of wish that these had been done like the character tokens from the Goonies Coded Chronicles game. Those were made of thick cardboard, more like a token. These just felt flimsy and hopefully they won’t get messed up from moving around on the table. I get that this game came out prior to the Goonies one so I’m assuming that those tokens were made as an improvement on these. To be honest, if I’d played this one first I’d probably not have thought a whole lot about it. Since I played Goonies first, it sort of stands out to me. In any event, the pieces and parts of this game work really well together. Everything really feels like it’s part of this whole elaborate mystery adventure. Overall I am very pleased with the look and feel of everything. Each piece makes you feel like you stepped into a Scooby-Doo mystery, which is something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was a kid. Needless to say, I’m pretty doggone happy.
8 out of 10
Like my review, the rulebook gives only the bare minimum of instructions needed to understand how to play the game. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t even call itself a rulebook, instead it is the Mystery Manual. The manual doesn’t go into a lot of detail about the game, which is completely fine since a lot of the rules you’ll be learning as you play. What the manual does do is give you the basic framework of how players will be using the tiles, cards, characters and narrative books. It also tells you how to use items to make other things work, like keys with doors. The book has plenty of pictures and examples to help players understand how this all works. One thing that I liked was that these examples were done in such a way that there were no spoilers given. As noted above, the back cover of the manual contains a list of hints for when players get stuck in a location. I think it’s a great thing to have for those players that need it. A few times I thought about using one but looked back at what was available and figured out what to do. On the back of the book there’s also the Scooby Snack Tracker which is a row of Scooby Snacks that can be marked to show how many times the players may have done something wrong or solved a puzzle incorrectly. What this does is it affects the End Game Score, which is a box on the last page of the book that has numbers for the amount of Scooby Snacks remaining. It also has two columns, one for if you escaped the Mansion and for for if you didn’t. Needless to say, if you didn’t escape, you’re not going to get as good of an ending. The same is true if you ended up eating too many Scooby Snacks. In other words, you’ll want to escape and eat as few snacks as possible. Overall I think that everything is laid out in a quick and concise way. It’s easy to read through and understand. In fact, it only takes a few minutes to read through making it that much quicker to be able to start playing. I like that there aren’t any spoilers in the manual so that everything is uncovered as you play. I have to say that I’m quite pleased.
9 out of 10
My family and I love Scooby-Doo. We’ve watched the shows, the movies and we even have Scooby-Doo related merch in our home. Needless to say, this game fit our family perfectly. The combination of the theme and the mystery solving all worked it’s magic on my whole family. We all love puzzle solving and have played several different escape room style games, which weren’t as much fun as this one was. This one just hit a sweet spot for us. While there are lots of puzzles to solve, nothing felt so difficult that my daughter couldn’t figure it out, with a little help. I found the game to have a bit of a Choose Your Own Adventure feel to it as well, from the entries in the narrative books. Every time you read something, it instructed you on something new to be revealed. You’d then take that and find something there to check out and then read another entry in one of the books. This kept the whole adventure constantly changing. In certain areas of the game, characters will be popping in and others popping out. I thought this was a neat way to keep things fresh and to not overwhelm players with too many characters to keep up with. As you make your way through the mansion, you’ll start to find other rooms with new puzzles to solve and new items to use. Using the right character’s ability on the right item or location seems to be key to solving the mystery. I like that this game can be played solo or with others. Just to familiarize myself with how this one worked, I played through a few rooms. This helped me later to be able to point my family in the right direction when they started to struggle in certain locations. Honestly this was one game that my family really enjoyed playing. We liked that it wasn’t super long and that we could easily work through the game all at one time, or break it up into 2 separate acts. It’s family friendly and one that even younger players could play with a little bit of help from Mom or Dad. Fans of Mystery Inc. will really enjoy jumping into a Scooby-Doo mystery and solving it themselves. Escape room gamers should also enjoy the puzzle aspects of the game. I’m a little bit afraid that due to having played the game, that it won’t be replayable. I guess we’ll have to try it again in a couple of months to see if we still remember the solutions to all of the puzzles or if it still feels like a challenge. I think that’s one thing to be aware of when purchasing this one. In any event, my family enjoyed this one a great deal as did I. This is one that I would highly recommend.
9 out of 10
Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion is an escape room style game that can be played in the comfort of your own home. It is one of the Coded Chronicles styles games available from The Op. The game doesn’t take a huge amount of time unless you’re looking to completely finish the whole thing. Most play sessions last around an hour or so for each Act. The components are really well done and very thematic. Each one makes you feel like you stepped into a Scooby-Doo cartoon. The rulebook is really well done and gives you the instructions you need to play the game without including anything to spoil the game. The game itself is a lot of fun and will really draw you into the mystery. My family and I really enjoyed this one, as we love everything Scooby-Doo related. The puzzles could be a bit challenging but weren’t so difficult that you couldn’t figure them out if you really took your time and thought about them. For Scooby-Doo fans like us, this one is sure to entertain you. Even escape room players should enjoy the unique puzzles inside this one. The game is family friendly and can even be played with younger players, if you give them a bit of a helping hand here and there. Overall we really enjoyed this one and hope to see many more adventures in the Coded Chronicles world. This is one that I highly recommend and hope that it will be as much fun to replay a couple of months down the road. Jinkies!
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out The Op at their site.