The latest in our growing collection of games originally for older players that have been geared down for kids is this Scooby-Doo-ized version of Betrayal at House on the Hill.
The original game has the players as a group of adventurers searching in and around an old mansion, revealing randomized, modular tiles and aspects to create the layout of the map where creepy rooms, items and events are discovered. Eventually “the haunt” is triggered, resulting in one of the players now playing a villain–a booklet explains what character is suddenly possessed or having planned all of this the whole time, etc., depending on the circumstances of the haunt occurring–and the endgame becomes one player working against the remaining players.
As the child-themed versions of more mature games do, the Scooby-Doo version of Betrayal removes aspects of the difficulty, scare factor and length of play. Here, Scooby and the gang have shown up to investigate bizarre goings on centred around this creepy old house, where they find suitably cartoony clues and items. When the haunt happens, one of the pals is removed from play (disappearing through a weird revolving door, for instance), allowing that player to instead switch to playing the bad guy. In usual Scooby-Doo fashion, things aren’t as scary or supernatural as they appear, and it’s up to the remaining friends to get to the bottom of things.
Of the several kid versions of games we have, this is my favourite. The original version of Betrayal offers an engaging blend of aspects that combine and change for games that feel unique with every play. While the Scooby version of it has been simplified in some ways to make it more suitable to players as young as eight, it seems to have retained those key aspects that kept the game fun and fresh.
I’m really looking forward to playing it again.