Game Review: “Scooby Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion”

scooby doo - escape from the haunted mansion game - boxRuh-Ro! The gang was heading along the road en route to their next mission when the Mystery Machine began to overheat! By the time they realized what was going on, the van had shuddered to a stop. Was it a beautiful, sunny afternoon? Of course not. It was a dark, stormy night and the only building near them was a mysterious mansion just off the road. They made their way there by the illumination of the sporadic lightning bolts and were darn happy to be allowed entry to Lord Fairmont’s residence by his creepy butler, Horatio. Suddenly there’s a tremendous clap of thunder, the lights go out, and they see what looks like a ghostly figure! When the lights come back on, Velma is standing alone in the foyer.

“Jinkies! Where is everybody??”

Welcome to Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion, a Coded Chronicles game designed by Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim, with illustrations from Rob Lundy, published by The Op Games under license from Warner-Bros. Coded Chronicles is a popular series of puzzle games that seem to be inspired by the old choose your own adventure books; everything has an associated numeric value and there are books, one for each of the gang, with entries associated with each numeric value.


Reviewing a game of this nature is challenging because it’s all about exploration and puzzle solving so, like a legacy title, I’m only going to show just the tiniest portion of the very beginning of the game to ensure that you’re surprised and delighted when you get this to your own table. The components all look good and the artwork is spot-on when compared to the original TV series:

scooby doo - escape from the haunted mansion game - components

There are components, cards, clues, and more stashed in the stack of Secret Envelopes on the left: Do not open them until instructed! The game is split into two “chapters” and you can’t open the Chapter Two envelope until you’ve solved its mysteries. Earlier versions of this game had miniatures, but the version I reviewed has paper standees, which works out really well, as you’ll see momentarily. The Haunted Mansion is represented by numbered map tiles that you’ll deploy in specific locations as you solve various puzzles. The cards are items or objects that help you throughout the game. Some are discarded once used and others stick with your gang for much of the game.

Finally, there are the clue books, one each for Velma, Fred, Scooby, Daphne, and Shaggy. While you can play the game solo, it’s much more fun with a group and if you want to play with more than five, you can decide on actions through consensus and pass the clues book around so everyone gets a turn.

Looking more closely at the character standees you’ll see something important:

scooby doo - escape from the haunted mansion game - character standees

Each character has a number. Every clue in this Coded Chronicles game is four digits. An item in a room might have three digits, offering the chance for each character to interact with it differently. Velma might research item 234 by prefacing that with her unique digit: 1234. Shaggy wants to eat it, Daphne uses things, Scooby smells things, and Fred investigates. With this ingenious mechanism, five different clues can be associated with a single item in the game!

Setup is lightning fast: You read the introduction, clue 5000, and then place Map Tile 1 face up and add Velma to the room. Remember, she starts out all alone with the rest of the gang mysteriously vanished!

scooby doo - escape from the haunted mansion game - velma in the foyer

This starting room is the only map tile I’m going to share, but it’s representative of the rest of the mansion; rooms contain items that have three-digit numbers. If you want Velma to research what’s on the coffee table, for example, you would look up clue 1 + 201 in the appropriate character book. If Scooby were with Velma, he might smell what’s on the table, corresponding to clue 4 + 201.


When you do look up Velma’s clue 1201, the book lists some narrative prose that the reader should share with everyone. Some clues, though not all, have additional instructions or actions you’ll need to perform:

scooby doo - escape from the haunted mansion game - clue 1201

Admit it, aren’t you just a little bit curious about what Velma finds when she closely examines the contents of the coffee table? In the game, you’d reveal the indicated item card and learn that it’s a… ah, wait! no spoilers!

That’s the rhythm of the game; move, combine a character’s number with the clue that’s of interest, read out the resultant information, take any actions specified, and continue. Since it’s a completely cooperative game, there are no turns and no one player should be limited to a specific character. Why? Because most of the characters come and go as the game proceeds, so if you’re dead set on only playing Daphne, for example, you might feel pretty left out for a portion of the adventure.

There are two levels of puzzles in the game, ones that involve having the right player investigate (eat, smell, use, research, etc) and what I consider the “level boss” puzzles that are considerably more difficult. I found some of those tougher puzzles well, puzzling, because it wasn’t clear to me how to proceed and assemble the correct clue number. Fortunately, if you get stumped, there are clues available for the ten major puzzles. Some clues are free, but others cost you a Scooby Snack: how many you end up consuming to complete the adventure will be reflected in the overall game score.

If you’re adamant about not using any clues, be prepared to really wrack your brains; there are a few where I was very thankful to get some tips on how to proceed when I was drawing a complete blank. Just remember that whatever you do, the solution must produce a four-digit number that takes you to a corresponding clue in one of the character clue books.


It took me about 2 1/2 hours to play through Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion solo, but I surmise it would have gone faster with more players. You know, “two heads are better than one” and all that. This is a nicely produced game, but after playing titles like Frosthaven, it seemed like the clue lookup could have been better accomplished with a dedicated mobile app. Punch in a code and it reads out the clue and any associated actions. This would also minimize a player noticing a different clue in the book while looking for the specific one revealed.

This is a fun and engaging mystery puzzle adventure that’s perfectly designed for a family. It would be great while on a trip, easily fitting on a table in a hotel room or an RV. There is no randomness in the Coded Chronicles design at all, though, so once you’re done you’ll need to reset all the envelopes [*] and donate it to a friend or your local game library. It’s worth keeping the one-and-done nature of the game in mind when you consider the price, given that so many games have lots of replayability to offset their high price. Price aside, I enjoyed Scooby Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion quite a bit as a big fan of the show and characters, though I found a few of the puzzles rather confounding and frustrating to solve. One of them also had an error in the clues, but… that’s another story entirely.

Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion. 1-5 players, 120-200 minutes (for both chapters). Designed by Jay Cormier and Sen-Foon Lim, and published by The Op Games. $29.99 at

Disclosure: The Op Games sent me a copy of this title for free in return for this candid review. Thanks, gang!

[*] The publisher thoughtfully includes instructions on how to reset the game once played through, but please don’t read them until you’ve finished the game because they will spoil the puzzles. [link]


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

dave taylor vertigo film swirl backgroundPlanet Dave is run by Dave Taylor, who has been writing about film, cars, games, and his lifestyle for many years. He's based in Boulder, Colorado and assures readers he's only occasionally falling into a gravity well or temporal distortion field.

Planet Dave via Email!

Read my latest missive in your mailbox, it's what all the cool kids are doing!