|Game experience: EXCELLENT
Fantastic actor play
Casa Loma is a Gothic-revival style castle in Toronto that was built in the early 20th century. If you’ve watched ‘X-men’, ‘Johnny Mnemonic’ or ‘The skulls’, then you’ve seen it on screen. Sounds like a perfect setting for an escape game, right? Well, I have a good news for you: ‘Secret City company’ has brought to you no less than three different escape games there, which open in the evenings, when the castle is closed for visit. On my first visit to Toronto for a long time, I was lucky enough to find a spot for the ‘King of the Bootleggers’ scenario – most of their events tend to be fully booked many days ahead. It was a good choice: although their two other scenarios ‘Escape the tower’ and ‘Station M’ are also very good, as I would find out later (reviews to come!), ‘King of the bootleggers’ remains my favorite one, and one of my very best escape room experience ever.
“In 1920s Toronto prohibition is at its peak and at the top of the bootlegging empire sits notorious gangster Rocco Perri, but in the sordid world of swingin’ speakeasies, everyone’s out for a piece of the pie. You receive an invitation to a secret meeting at Rocco’s infamous bar hidden inside Casa Loma. Bessi Perri has set her sights on her husband’s moonshine throne and is assembling a gang to take him down and needs your help. This is your chance to join the big leagues, but it won’t be easy. Someone’s squealed to the cops and within the hour they’ll be on their way to raid the joint. Will you and your team be pinched or become the new Kings and Queens of the Bootleggers?”
You can help the four protagonists by finding various objects such as Rocco’s moonshine recipe, his cash… and whether there is a rat among them! At the start, your group (which can be as big as 16 players!) will be divided in three subgroups, each of them sent to a different room, with its own atmosphere.
Simply put, this escape game is a model of immersion, thanks to three ingredients: great actors, sophisticated scenario, and atmospheric decoration.
As for the puzzles, they were more classical but relatively solid (although I cannot judge all of them, but only the ones in the room where I was – it was the upper room with stuffed animals). A great strength of the ‘Casa Loma’ games (and more generally, of the ‘Secret city’ ones) is the care they put to ensure a non-sequential structure, so that everyone can work on some puzzles at any time, and nobody would feel left out.
Finally, the four actors were all excellent. The dedicated gamemaster of our room gave us hints at the right time, and seeing the actors later arguing with each other was a delightful show.
The difficulty during the game is very adaptive, as the gamemasters can help you whenever they feel it necessary. The real challenge will be to solve the final riddle – and on this, unfortunately, we failed by a few seconds. But never has a failure felt so stimulating!
For someone who values mostly immersion as I do, this was a wonderful experience. My hunch is that it could also appeal to people who are a bit less interested in problem-solving and more in appreciating a drama in a historical setting; after all, there will be a live-show unravelling before your eyes, and guess what: you will be part of it. Moreover, and quite uniquely, this is a game that has some replayability value, as you might play it again just to enjoy the two rooms that you did not visit on your first try (just make sure not to spoil the second part of the game for the other players, as it will remain the same!) Toronto if one of the richest city I know in terms of escape rooms, but in my opinion, ‘King of the bootleggers’ is a must-play if you pass by the city.
Game played in September 2016