Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion [Review]

“… And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling kids!”

Location:  at home

Date Played: July 6, 2020

Team size: 1-5; we recommend 2-5

Duration: 120+ minutes

Price: about $30

REA Reaction

Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion was fun and playful. While the puzzles were adequate – some a bit better, some a bit worse -and generally unremarkable, it was written and illustrated perfectly. You play Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion for the overall experience.

Scooby-Doo Escape from the Haunted Mansion box art depicts th Mystery Inc gang in front of an ominous mansion.

This game plays like it was born out of a lab that dissected all of the other store-bought tabletop escape games and mixed what they found with top-notch Scooby writing. The result was unique, even if almost every component in the box could have come from any other tabletop escape game. The magic was in the brilliance of letting the narrative material shine.

Scooby-Doo is smart escape room material. Scooby is multi-generational and mystery-focused. Its tropes are entirely achievable through escape room gameplay, tabletop or otherwise.

Play Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion because you enjoy Scooby-Doo or because you have a family or group of friends seeking carefree amusement… because that’s what this was: light-hearted fun.

Who is this for?

  • Scooby-Doo fans
  • Story seekers
  • Cartoon art fans
  • Families
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Fantastic Scooby character writing
  • Easygoing, exploration-based play
  • You’re a fan of the Scooby gang

Story

The Mystery Inc. gang of Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, Fred, and of course Scooby, had been summoned to a haunted mansion to investigate the ghost of Lady Fairmont. Hijinks ensued.

Map tiles with the various charactr pieces on or surrounding them.

Setup

On a structural level, Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion pulled elements from most of the store-purchasable tabletop escape games. It included:

13 Map Tiles – Tiles were slowly revealed to build the game map. The map tiles were covered in numbered markers that indicated items and people.

5 Character Pieces – Pieces representing the 5 Mystery Inc. characters were found (or disappeared) over the course of the game. We moved these pieces about the revealed map tiles as we investigated the mansion.

5 Narrative Books – Each character had a booklet filled with responses to the reference numbers found throughout the game. Each booklet was written specifically to represent that character. Reading these responses was at the heart of the experience.

Character booklets for the Mystery Inc characters. Scooby is on top, his ability is, "Smell."

60 Clue Cards – These felt similar to any card-based escape room and contained information, narrative elements, and puzzle components. They were numbered and revealed as we explored the game.

The clue deck with a closet card revealed.

8 Secret Envelopes – These sealed envelopes contained special components that tended to be significant.

Secret Envelopes.

Mechanically, Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion did something unusual: While there were 5 different characters to play, no one played as a particular character. Each player could choose any available character and have them interact with something. The catch was that each character interacted in a hyper-specific way:

  • Velma researched things
  • Daphne used items
  • Fred investigated stuff
  • Scooby smelled
  • Shaggy… ate

As I said, hijinks ensued.

There wasn’t really a necessary turn order, or any real stakes. Characters appeared and disappeared in typical Scooby fashion. Share well and enjoy the mystery and characters.

For a thorough rules and mechanics description, check out this video:

Gameplay

Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion was a narrative-focused play-at-home escape game with a low level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, making connections, puzzling, and enjoying the writing.

Analysis

➕ The narrative and characters were 100% pure Scooby. Everything about the plot and characters was dead on… right down to Fred being both essential and boring.

➕ Similarly, the art was on point. Everything looked Scooby.

➕/➖ The puzzle content was a mixed bag. A few were interesting; most weren’t remarkable. One or two felt a bit clumsy. Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion wasn’t about the puzzles, and that was honestly fine.

➕ The onboarding and rulebook were lean and on point. This game was easy to set up and start in a few minutes. We began with only one active character, keeping the options limited and manageable at the start.

➕/➖ The character powers were clever, but intensely uneven (how many things can Shaggy realistically eat?) and a little too unpredictable. (Some items that should have had a scent didn’t.) This ultimately led to some haphazard, “just check everything with everyone” moments that didn’t really serve the plot or gameplay.

❓ The “anyone can play any character at any time” structure was interesting, but also a bit clunky. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t great because ultimately a character booklet finds its way into someone’s hands, and that becomes their character. It isn’t a problem, but it isn’t a success either.

➖ When you get something wrong, you get a “Scooby Snack,” and I can’t understand why. Why are Scooby Snacks bad? Did this game benefit from having a toothless and ignorable penalty system? This was the only component that you were supposed to write on or otherwise destroy. It was silly.

➕/➖ We loved the final puzzle, but also accidentally got ahead of it and broke sequence… which got a bit weird.

➕ The reset instructions were simple and clear. It was not a replayable game, but it was very easy to reset for a friend.

Tips For Players

  • Space Requirements: a small table

Buy your copy of Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Support Room Escape Artist’s Mission

There are lots of ways to support Room Escape Artist, like buying from Amazon after clicking into the links included in this post or backing us on Patreon.

The money that we make from these helps us to grow the site and continue to add more value to the community that we love so much.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.