The Other Mother from Coraline is a real piece of work. At first glance, she may seem like the dream mom you never knew you needed, but anyone who’s seen the 2009 stop-motion animated film knows she’s a thing of nightmares. But even as she’s trying to abduct innocent kids and sew buttons on their eye sockets, she’s always down for game night.
Fans of the Henry Selick movie and Neil Gaiman book can enter — and escape — the Other World in Coraline Beware the Other Mother, a co-op card game from Wizkids. The rules of the game are basically a recreation of the last 20 minutes of the movie so if you don’t want any spoilers, turn back now!
In this one- to four-player game, the players assume the role of the ghost kids who were captured by the Other Mother (AKA the Beldam) to guide Coraline through the Other World trying to find the objects that will free them all from the dark and twisty parallel universe. Players follow directions from the story cards to move the characters from room to room and to reveal objects throughout the haunted house. The only way to win the game is to get Coraline in the living room with five specific objects in her satchel: the skeleton key, the eyes of the ghost kids, and the snow globe that holds her imprisoned parents.
However, if the Other Mother is in the living room with Coraline, she’s not going to let that little girl out of her clutches. Coraline cannot escape until the Other Mother is forced from the room, which is where strategy comes in. The story cards contain instructions on them that move the game along. For example, one card says: “If the Beldam and Coraline are not in the same room, move Coraline to the Beldam’s current room.” It’s not so easy to collect all the objects and get Coraline to the living room without the Other Mother/the Beldham in it because the characters are constantly creeping all over the house based on the cards.
Each turn affects the entire group so players must consider their actions, stay one step ahead of the Beldham, and think about how their move can benefit the whole team. If you don’t use teamwork, you may as well be playing blindly and your cards might run out, making the whole team lose. And what happens when you lose? The Other Mother sews your eyes shut and you’ll never see your real family again.
It took me 50 minutes to play with one other person. The more players there are, the more that can go wrong because there are more actions that can potentially conflict with one another. You’ll have the most amount of control if you play by yourself, but it’s probably not as fun that way. Players will likely want to replay the game until they beat it, but it’s not the type of game that I’d want to play over and over every weekend.
All in all, this Coraline game stays true to the fandom with its phantom fantasy vibes. And remember, beware the Other Mother. Like the cat says: “She may not play fair, but she won’t refuse. She’s got a thing for games.”