Sniffing Out the Trail of Scooby-Doo: Escape from The Haunted Mansion – Designer Diary
Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion, the first Coded Chronicles® game by Usaopoly (The Op), lets players take on the roles of Fred™, Velma™, Daphne™, Shaggy™, and of course Scooby-Doo™ to solve a mystery! Coded Chronicles is an at-home escape room style game where players are guided to unlock clues and solve puzzles by a unique code-revealing mechanic. Over 50 complex clues await game night detectives (or a solo ghost hunter) to figure out the numeric codes located among five narrative booklets that will piece together what happened to the ghost of Lady Fairmont. Around the Table is happy to throw you a bone on how to navigate the fun-filled, brain-wracking activity in this exclusive Q&A with the masterminds behind the game!
Designers Jay Cormier and Sen-Joong Lim (Junk Art, D&D: Rock Paper Wizard and MIND MGMT: The Psychic Espionage Game) had a fun challenge of their own as they made Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion a way to bring the nail-biting, real-time excitement of an escape room into the homes of tabletop gamers without the constraint of time limits! By working in the same critical thinking and social deduction practiced by dedicated mystery solvers, Jay and Sen found a way to keep players on the edge of their seats guessing happens next. Lucky for us, we had the chance to get some answers ourselves about their creative process!
What makes this Coded Chronicles mechanic stand out in the tabletop escape room genre?
Jay: I have yet to find an ‘escape-room-in-a-box’ game that has been this immersive. These games tell stories that you, as the player, get to interact with and discover. There are five narration guides, one for each of the members of Mystery Inc. As you interact with the game, you look things up in the narration guides and read out what that character says about it. You’ll find that Fred, Velma, Shaggy, Daphne, and Scooby-Doo each have a unique action they can do to investigate what they find throughout the Haunted Mansion, and this ensures that all the characters get their chance to shine!
Sen: The narrative is engaging and written to pay homage to a classic cartoon. You get to put yourselves in the shoes of your favorite teen sleuths and their faithful pal Scooby-Doo to solve an actual mystery…. Jinkies!
Scooby-Doo: Escape from the Haunted Mansion maintains its theme throughout the game play. What measures did you take to enrich the high-tension escape room feel?
Jay: In escape room games you have to scaffold your players into the experience. This means you need to slowly teach them about what they can do in small increments instead of throwing everything at them at once. This was one of our key focuses for developing the game. As you play you gain more and more abilities that will allow you to solve more puzzles.
Sen: Being Scooby fans, we relied on some of the old callbacks to the original series so that the mechanisms make thematic sense. Each of the characters has unique abilities that can be used to solve the various puzzles. We use this to drive the story in terms of party composition and puzzle type. Let’s just say that we had a great time writing dialog for when Shaggy tries to eat everything in sight.
What mechanics were you excited to integrate into this game, and what kind of players do you think will enjoy it?
Jay: If you’re a fan of 1990’s point-and-click adventures, then you’re going to love this game! Since each character has a specialty, you can use their action on items in the mansion. I used to love those gimmicky kinds of games growing up and now I feel like we’ve created one that friends or family members can play together at the table. We’ve found that it’s hard for people to resist imitating the voices of their characters as they read out the scripted dialogue!
Sen: Role-players who enjoy solving puzzles while getting into character will love this game. There is a realistic and rewarding feeling that comes from cooperating to solve a puzzle, so not only is it about being clever enough but living out the same dynamics as Mystery, Inc.! I’m really excited to see people have that “A-ha!” moment when a possible solution just clicks for them.
What is something different that you’ve never tried before this game, and how did it work?
Sen: In this game, we really tried to make puzzles that weren’t just run-of-the-mill number or word puzzles; we wanted some physicality to them, so we put a lot of thought into both complexity and practicality—some that a whole table full of players could be involved with at the same time, so no one would be sitting there twiddling their thumbs.
Jay: We also wanted things to be used multiple times but in different ways. Everything is useful in one way or another, whether you play it in one sitting or put it away and play again later.
Scooby-Doo: Escape From the Haunted Mansion is available now from your favorite local game store or online retailer for $29.99. For where to buy this and other engaging board games and puzzles, visit TheOp.games. To learn more about Jay Courmier and Sen-Foong Lim’s catalog of games, visit their website at www.bamboozlebrothers.com.