Updated: Jan 5, 2022
WBG Score: 7.5
Player Count: 1 or more
Published by: The Op
“Scooby dooby doo, where are you we’ve got a game to review now” (to the lawyers at Hannah-Barbara I think this technically counts as parody so please don’t sue me) Now with that lawsuit evaded let’s get onto the review!
Before I start running through the game just to let you know I won’t be spoiling anything about the game in this review.
To set up first read the rule book! It sounds obvious I know but since most of the components are a secret until revealed it really is the best way to go. I will give you an idea of how the game works though. Players will be given one of the five character books to read throughout the game. Who gets what book and how many doesn’t really matter as no one really controls an individual character, it’s just there to keep players involved. If you're playing with others who can’t read or aren’t good readers yet then one player can take over reading duties. Place down Map tile one and read from where the game instructs you to and then you’re off!
Each character has their own special ability. Either research, eat, smell, use and investigate and each has a number on their standee. These numbers are then combined with the three digit numbers on different items found in the rooms to create a four digit number. You then look that number up in the corresponding book. For example Velma’s book is all numbered 1000 to 1999 so it’s easy to find which book you need based on the character you’ve used. Players then read out the passage, these usually give you some story, clues, instruct you to reveal cards, new map tiles or even more excitingly tell you to open one of the game's secret envelopes. Beware though because although you don’t get penalised for say, trying to use Shaggy to eat a bookcase, you may do if you put a wrong combination in when solving a puzzle. It’s nothing too drastic, you will just need to mark off a Scooby snack on the back of the book which will then affect your end score.
One thing you’ll notice fairly quickly is that this isn’t your typical escape room game. Technically you are trying to escape the mansion but this is your proper classic Scooby Doo type mystery. The gang find themselves in a location, there’s a ghost/monster and they have to try and solve the mystery. If you loved the old cartoons and love Scooby Doo and always wanted to be a part of solving one of the mysteries,. then I suggest you stop reading and go and grab a copy now! Regardless of whatever I say from here on, this may be a game for you.
And I would have gotten away with it! This game gives me all of those nostalgic feels, yes because of the theme but there’s also something else there. The flipping back and forth through the books reminds me of the old 'Choose your own adventure' books and whilst I didn’t exactly feel the need to put my fingers in the pages (don’t deny it, you used to do it too!) it did give me those vibes. The other type of games it evoked for me was the old Monkey Island point and click adventure games. This is largely because you can use any character's ability on any object and there will be a passage in the book as a response. This includes the previously mentioned Shaggy eating a bookcase. There are other point and click elements but I won’t say why for fear of spoilers, but if you know those types of games then you’ll know what I mean when you get to it.
If it wasn’t for those meddling kids! I’ve played a few different types of escape room style games with my kids and they have hit on different levels, but for the most part I’ve tended to play them with my eldest (13). I think the puzzles on some of the others have been just a tad too thinky for the youngest (11). This one was a huge hit for her though, we played this over three sessions, one quick one to get acquainted with it and then played out the chapters properly. After every one the response was “ I can’t wait to play some more of it” Now for me that’s a kids seal of approval right there. The puzzles were just at the right level that she was able to solve the majority of them without help, some with just a little nudge from me and a fair few where she noticed things way before I’d even cottoned on. There were even one or two that had the pair of us thinking. So for her it was a resounding success. She wanted to give it a rating of 10,000 but as you can see I kinda averaged out our scores.
Looks like we’ve got another mystery on our hands. So the kids love it, but what about us grumpy old adults? I’ve got to admit I had a really fun time with it. I will preface this though and say that the box says that this is a medium difficulty in the Coded Chronicles line. At the time of writing this there are only three that are out and that this is the only one I’ve played so I can’t judge this line against the difficulty of other escape style games. (although Jim will be reviewing another one soon!)
If you are planning on playing this either on your own or with only adults then I will say that you may well find yourself burning through it fairly quickly, you’ll probably even be able to get through it in the one sitting so keep that in mind. However there is some fun stuff in here and as I said it’s your classic Scooby Doo story and it’s fun going through it. This for me is more geared towards the kids puzzle wise and watching them go through it and solving the puzzles and having fun, reading out from the books and cracking the mystery was where I got the most joy from it but I also had fun with the game in general myself. Oh and doing the voices when it was my turn to read, you HAVE to do the voices, it’s not in the rules but it should be.
All in all this is a winner from all of us. The age on the box says 12+, I played with my eleven year old and I think you could easily go lower than that but any parents know their children's levels when it comes to games. When you do think they’re ready though then I would definitely suggest picking this up. One last thing to mention is that this does follow the “one and done” aspect of the usual escape room games. Nothing gets destroyed so you could potentially play it through again but the ultimate end result won’t change. But you may see some passages in the books that you maybe didn’t see previously. At the end of the day this is a great way to spend time with the kids, watching them have fun and having a good time yourself and ultimately that’s what these types of experiences are all about.
Jim - I have now played this game through myself with my children (8 and 6) and absolutely loved it! I echo everything Steve has said here and would simply add my agreement. It is such a fun game to experience. It felt unique to me. Other games have a similar idea, but this new Coded Chronicles systems opens up an exciting new way to bring old Film and TV IP to the table in a way that we get to control the story. We determine the events and actions our heroes of the screen take, and I am so down for this it is not true. I am going to try the Goonies one next and I cannot wait!