King of the Bootleggers
King of the Bootleggers
- Played December 7, 2015
- 60 minutes
- 15 players
- $36 / $42 prime time
- Guided play (unlimited hints)
- What People Say
Note: this room has been redesigned since we posted this review, and the overhaul has fixed many of our original issues with the room. Check out our review of the new and improved version here.
King of the Bootleggers is the second escape room from Company & Co. to take place within the beautiful and atmospheric confines of Casa Loma. Unfortunately, finding the entrance once you’ve arrived is a little tricky due to a lack of clear signage, but the staff assured us they are working to fix that. The staff are friendly and did a good job of welcoming us and going over the rules, although we felt more could have been done to introduce the team members to each other. The room accommodates teams of 15 people, so almost certainly you will be playing with a number of people you don’t know. Having team members get well acquainted at the beginning can go a long way to fostering communication and collaboration when playing the game and this is something we’ve seen done better elsewhere.
The story is set in 1920s Canada during the age of temperance when prohibition was in full effect and involves a plot to take down Rocco Perri, a prominent bootlegger, by his backstabbing wife and her band of goons. While playing the game you’ll meet four different characters, starting with Charlie the bartender who does an excellent job of setting the scene and introducing the story. As the game begins, Charlie leads you through a spooky and atmospheric tunnel deep under Casa Loma which again does an excellent job of establishing the ambiance of a secret underground speakeasy.
The immersion throughout the whole experience is top-notch. We felt involved in the story from start to finish, and there was an air of suspense throughout as we worked to uncover the plot’s twists and turns. As would be expected, the Casa Loma setting results in a set of rooms that are rich in ambiance and feel very authentic. You’ll visit four different locations throughout the evening and they all felt very convincing. Similarly, the actors playing the four characters did a great job and were very good at keeping people engaged.
Unfortunately, the puzzles are where the whole experience falls flat. Since there are so many participants, players get split up into three different groups, each of which have their own puzzles to solve. The majority of the puzzles we encountered were obscure, convoluted, and just downright unintuitive, and in talking to some of the other players it seems they had a similar experience with their puzzles. The good news is that the story characters are always on hand to give you a hint when you get stuck, which they managed to do very well while still keeping in character. However, there were just far too many instances of “Ok, I think I’ve got this figured out… maybe? But what about this part? Oh good, here comes one of the actors to help me out.” Several of the puzzles required significant amounts of hand-holding to solve. Perhaps hard-core puzzle enthusiasts might be able to solve the puzzles unassisted, but for the average player the overall feeling is one of frustration. Which is a pity, since the rest of the experience is so well done. On the plus side, the puzzles did a good job of integrating thematically into the story and setting.
Overall, the experience is one we might very cautiously recommend. The atmosphere and immersion are excellent, and the interactive theatre parts of it are done very well; it’s just a pity that the escape room portion proved to be so frustrating and unfulfilling.