Full disclosure: WizKids sent me a review copy of Coraline.
What is this game about?
Coraline is a cooperative board game based on the movie version of Neil Gaiman's book. The game takes place at the climax of the film, when Coraline is trying to rescue her parents, escape the Beldam, and leave the Other World for good. You (and the other players, if you want those) represent Ghost Children who are helping Coraline in her quest. To win, Coraline must collect specific items from around the Other World version of her home. Then Coraline has to get back to the living room, and you have to play a card that allows you to win the game.
On each turn, you will play one Coraline card from your hand, and do whatever the text on the card allows you to do. This can include revealing hidden items, moving Coraline, or bringing helpful characters from the film onto the board. (At the beginning, it's just Coraline and the Beldam.) After your turn, the Beldam gets to play a card from the Beldam deck, which means something bad is going to happen. The Beldam will essentially chase Coraline around the board, cause her to drop items, make other types of trouble, and advance the moon deck. The moon deck is one of the game's timers. You can lose the game either by running out of Coraline or Beldam cards, or by failing to find all of the required items before the moon deck fully advances.
How does it play solo?
Coraline is a cooperative game that largely plays the same at any player count. The main difference for you as a solo player is that you'll hold more cards in your hand.
Coraline is an exciting theme, but this board game doesn't live up to the excitement of its source material. It might make a nice introductory cooperative game for younger players, or for players who love the theme. Its turn structure is very straightforward, which ought to make the game fairly accessible. The game also scales nicely, which means you don't have to change much between solo and multiplayer games.
However, Coraline does not particularly capture its exciting theme. The game itself is so simple that there may not be much do it in the long run. You don't really feel like you're in desperate flight from the Beldam, either through the actions you take in the game or through the card art, which is shockingly repetitive and plain. There are very few stills from the movie, which I found disappointing given how great the film's aesthetic is.
I also don't love that the game is so card driven that you can't do much without the right cards. This not only limits your in-game actions in strange ways, but leads to cards that contain a lot of text—a possible barrier to entry for younger people who might otherwise be a perfect audience for Coraline. You can pull off some cool combos and strategies with the cards, but overall I don't feel that they offer fully satisfying gameplay.
Do I recommend it?
Generally no. However, if you absolutely love Coraline, or have a game group for which this would be a great introductory game choice, then you might be its target audience.
Overall Rating: 2.5 stars
5 stars — I love it!
4 stars — I really like it.
3 stars — I like it.
2 stars — It's okay.
1 star — Meh.