WBG Score: 7.5
Player Count: 1-99
Published by: The Op
This review has very MINOR SPOILERS in the words and some very MINOR SPOILERS in the pictures. I will give fair warning when they are about to come.
The Op have launched a new game system called Coded Chronicles. WBG has reviewed the Scooby Doo game from this series which is excellent. And now we have the Goonies version to delve into. The coded chronicles system is a clever way to incorporate puzzle solving and storytelling into multiple character games. We will get more to the mechanics in a bit. But for now, inside the box of surprises and delights, there will be multiple booklets, one for each character. You can play this solo and just read all the text yourself, or hand one out to each player. But this game, like the Exit and Unlock games, is just about solving puzzles and can be played in any player count. No one player ever controls one character, this is a cooperative experience where all players control all characters.
The booklets introduce a clever way for you as the player to interact with the items and rooms you encounter. Each character has its own unique liabilities. One will be able to USE things, another EXPLORE or EXPLAIN etc. There is a number attributed to each character and ability such as 1 next to the explore function. So, if you want to explore the wrench on the floor which has a code is 101 next to it, place a 1 in front of the 101 to make 1101, then read entry 1101 from the characters booklet that is doing the action. It is all very intuitive, and works seamlessly with all age groups and abilities. This game is highly accessible due to this brilliantly simple and instinctive process.
On opening the box and starting the game, you will be told to read the first entry in Mikey's booklet. This will set the scene and give you access to a map and pirate doubloon. This is the opening scene from the movie where Mikey and his friends are searching their parents attic to try and find something to help them keep their home. Fans of the movie will quickly realise how true to the original story every thing is. You are in for a true Goonies adventure, and you are gonna be hit so hard with board game puzzle fun, that when you wake up your clothes will be out of style!
In the box along with the booklets are sealed envelopes. At certain points in the game you will be instructed to open them. For anyone who has ever opened a secret envelope in a game like this will know the sheer joy this brings. It is hard to explain why? It's just a bag of components! But this bag is sealed. And you cannot see in it. And you are not allowed to open it right away. It is just so tantalising!
I don't want to say too much about the gameplay or rules so not to give away the surprises as you play. But to give you a flavour this next paragraph will explain the basics with only some very MINOR SPOIELRS. Scroll on to the next paragraph if you would rather not know.
In the game, you will re-enact the main plot points of the movie. You will place map tiles and cards down in a series. Creating a path for your adventuring Goonies to travel through. In each room various objects and "things" will be illustrated with clearly labelled numbers next to them. You can then interact with each part of the room or area in any order or way you like. Looking at, picking up, and exploring each item will unlock new dialogue to read, and sometimes, new rooms, items and mysteries to explore. The entire time, the Fratelli family are chasing after you, just like the movie. If you do something obviously incorrect in the game, or get a puzzle wrong, then you may be at times instructed to move the Fratelli's closer to you. If they ever catch you, that is fine, it just affects your final score. But, I will say no more.
There are some tricky puzzles in this game. They are all very much solvable although I would say easier in a group. Nothing should stump you permanently The game has some good tips and hints if you do get stuck, or full answers if you really need them. There are three acts to the game. You can play through the entire thing in around 3-5 hours depending on the size of your group and ability to solve the puzzles. Or you can easily pause or pack up between each act and play this as three part experience.
This is the first map tile. I didn't want to show any more, or show how they connect for fear of spoilers, but this one will be introduced obviously pretty quickly, so I felt it was a very minor spoiler. But I suppose, a spoiler none the less. So... SPOILER ALERT!
The entire experience is full of joy, surprises, satisfaction, some frustration, but always quickly followed by lots of "oh yeah's!" and "of courses!" Playing in a group is a wonderful experience. I played each three acts in a three and each person was able to contribute to certain parts of the game, finding solutions that benefited the team. Creating moments of utter delight, pride, and accomplishment. It's silly, but solving these puzzles does feel great. I suppose it's a bit like crosswords and sudoku puzzles. There is no real point to them, no one is testing you. You get nothing from doing them. But when you complete them, or get through a particularly tricky bit, it feels great. The brain rewards your body with that great feeling we are all hopefully familiar with. Here's the science behind this if you are interested.
A recent study out of Philadelphia’s Drexel University provides some evidence. Thirty students solved anagrams while researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) to record their brain activity. Very soon after activity in the right middle frontal gyrus, located near the forehead, indicated a moment of insight, activity then occurred in the orbitofrontal cortex, above the eye, which is responsible for processing rewards. Co-author Yongtaek Oh, a doctoral candidate in psychology at the university’s Creativity Research Lab, says, “Generally, such activity is associated with ‘wanting’ and ‘liking.’ ”
I think this goes a long way to explain why these games are so popular. People like to feel good. Solving puzzles makes us feel good. And the way The Op are merging clever modern board game techniques with classic nostalgia such as Scooby Do, The Shining and The Goonies is a sure fire way to create happiness. I loved my time with this game. I would recommend it to anyone, fan of the film or not, and now cannot wait to try The Shining version.