The Mermaid Mask preview – A spooky Scooby Snack

The Mermaid Mask is shaping up to be a neat little murder mystery.
the mermaid mask preview

I have strong memories of visiting the Cartoon Network website in the early 2000s, and playing a particular game named Scooby-Doo in The Ghosts of Pirate Beach. It was a rudimentary Flash-based game where you investigate a creepy town, seemingly haunted by the ghosts of an abandoned pirate ship. For years, it’s sat at the back of my mind thanks to its neat, eldritch vibes, and a genuine sense of haunting. Consciously or unconsciously, I’ve always wanted to see more games like it.

SFB Games’ The Mermaid Mask is so far the closest experience to the fabled Ghosts of Pirate Beach I’ve come across, and it’s all the more delightful for its spooky, Scooby-Doo-style tone. As part of LudoNarraCon 2024, the game now has a demo available on Steam – and I can’t recommend it enough.

In The Mermaid Mask, you control two investigators, Grimoire and Sally, as they venture to a strange town with a docked submarine, to solve the seeming murder of Captain Magnus Mortuga. In Mortuga’s submarine, they find an eclectic array of clues and puzzles, each revealing more about the murder, and painting a grim picture of Mortuga’s fate.

Read: Wander Stars preview – A smashing homage to Akira Toriyama

>mermaid mask gameplay
Image: SFB Games

The mystery is compounded by the discovery of his circumstances: Mortuga was found in a locked room, with an ancient stone cauldron – one unsealed and opened for the first time, although the deep scratches at its bottom suggest otherwise.

“How did he die? Was it a curse? Perhaps one of his eccentric crew? Or does the bizarre truth run even deeper…” the game’s description reads. It’s this central mystery that defines your journey, as you venture into Mortuga’s submarine, and begin investigating each room.

While only brief, the game’s LudoNarraCon demo contains plenty of compelling weirdness, with clues sprinkled throughout its submarine painting a dark picture of its central mystery. On the deck of the submarine, you’ll find a strange buoy that resembles an eldritch monster. On the lower decks, you’ll uncover diaries and notes that spell out deeper conspiracies.

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All the while, the pair of Grimoire and Sally keep the mysteries light and intriguing, with colourful banter elevating the tone of the game. Sally, in particular, is a delight, with her snide remarks and sarcasm bouncing off Grimoire’s naivety for fun, bouncy dialogue.

There’s pleasure in the game’s puzzles, too. In the demo, gameplay largely revolves around pointing-and-clicking, to find a variety of items that contribute clues to the central mystery of Mortuga’s murder – but there was also a standout puzzle involving dials, and a neat bit of clever thinking.

>the mermaid mask gameplay
Image: SFB Games

After traversing an array of quirky rooms, and unearthing side mysteries to be resolved in the full game, The Mermaid Mask demo concludes with another great puzzle: pulling together all the clues you’ve found to determine the cause of Mortuga’s death.

In this case, you must consider everything you’ve discovered. The strange eldritch buoy, the graffiti on the side of the submarine, and perhaps most importantly, the ancient Cauldron that couldn’t possibly have been scratched from the inside.

The demo ends on your selection, with teasers for what’s to come. With the answer left hanging, I’m all the more intrigued. Are the scratches in the bottom of the Cauldron really so important? Does magic exist in The Mermaid Mask? Does it go the traditional Scooby-Doo route, where everything can be explained by science and persistence?

There’s so many questions on my mind, and so many I’m keen to have answered. If you enjoy a good mystery like me, or you also have memories of Scooby-Doo‘s greatest flash game, then The Mermaid Mask should be on your radar. With such a strong sense of identity coming through in its demo preview, the full game will likely be a real treat.

You can now check out The Mermaid Mask on Steam.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.