Marketing Tabletop Puzzle Games on Kickstarter — A Case Study
Great Scott Escapes: Who Killed Bugsy Marlowe | Review
Who Killed Bugsy Marlowe Review | It is 1937. Late this afternoon Bugsy Marlowe came to the Dunwich Tower Hotel for reasons that are still unclear. He was standing in the lobby chatting with some associates when the elevator door opened. No one got out. A few seconds later as the elevator door began to close, someone fired a gun from inside the elevator car. The bullet hit Bugsy in the head, killing him instantly.
Everyone in the lobby ducked and ran for cover. the elevator, now closed, had begun moving once again. Several witnesses reported seeing the elevator lights stopping on the fifth floor. Hotel staff immediately disabled the elevator, sealed off the staircases and called the police. The killer was now trapped on the fifth floor. The police arrived at the hotel and immediately began their investigation of the crime scene. Several detectives were then directed to the fifth floor where five guests were staying, each in separate rooms. All five guests were taken to the police station for questioning.
One of them is the killer. Can you figure out who done it?
Completion Time: 1 hour 17 minutes
Date Played: 21st October 2021
Party Size: 3
When it’s my turn at work to pick the office social activity, you best believe I’m choosing an escape room every time! But it’s always a little tricky to ensure it’ll be one I haven’t played, not too enthusiast-focused, and still be fantastic. To make sure I had all those boxes ticked, I asked my friends at Review the Room whether they recommended Bugsy Marlowe – a room that came out quite early in the pandemic but still consistently got good reviews – and received a resoundingly positive yes in reply! Fantastic – Bugsy Marlowe was booked!
It then took a few more weeks to get all my colleagues in the same place at the same time for us to actually play the game, but it was well worth the wait when we did!
Detective, I have a case for you
The point and click, non-hosted version of Who Killed Bugsy Marlowe opens with a 1920s style noire video all in sepia colours of your detective filling you in on the case. He gives you a smouldering look and stares into the distance as he ponders the suspects. Thankfully, he has nothing to worry about because we had our very best on the case – our director, our developer, and well, me.
Originally, this is a real life escape room by Great Scott Escapes in Pennsylvania, USA. Thanks to the global pandemic, the team converted it to a digital format. You could either load the game up in a platform called Telescape, or book a Games Master to guide you through it as a live video escape room. We opted for the point-and-click Telescape version because being on this side of the pond makes it hard to organise a time together.
In Telescape, you get a 360 degree view of all of the physical spaces and can click into anything for a closer look. When you hover over items of importance, they flash up with a magnifying glass icon, encouraging you to look closer. There was also audio, video, and plenty of fun multimedia moments that added to the immersion of the game – so we don’t feel like we suffered anything going for the less expensive point-and-click version.
Catch the Culprit, Close the Case
In terms of gameplay, Who Killed Bugsy Marlowe is a really unique escape room. Namely because the goal of the game isn’t to escape – it’s to find the suspect. In a Cluedo-esque logic grid, you’re presented with 5 suspects, 5 drinks, 5 weapons, 5 rooms and 5 countries of origins. As you explore the room you’ll uncover evidence that will connect these pieces of information and eventually be the key to cracking he case.
To help you out, on one of the walls in the first space is a very large logic board with each piece of information on a draggable image. It’s advised that every time you receive a new piece of information, such as Mr. Smith likes to drink orange juice (he doesn’t, it’s just for illustrative purposes), that you rush over and log the information on the board.
When we played, we must have missed something because we got something wrong. I think this comes with a lot of players working together and perhaps moving and changing things on the board, but we reached the final puzzle of the game and thought “oops, that can’t be right”. Thankfully, the game is merciful and doesn’t punish you for taking too long. We were able to clear the board and try again!
Right or wrong, we had a lot of fun cracking the case though. The puzzles, for once, felt truly quite mimetic – meaning they fit so well in their environment it made sense that doors would be locked and you’d need to uncover the maid’s key card first, and so on. Every time one of us found an item it added to everyone’s inventory so we could all play along at the same time. There’s something extra exciting about digging around in people’s private rooms to evidence and I love a good murder mystery. This certainly is a good murder mystery!
For sure, there is a lot to find. Compared to other escape rooms of the same length, I think there is at least double the average number of hot spots to click on. Attention is key, else you’ll lose track of what you’ve found so far.
Whenever I play really good digital/at home games that are adapted from real life rooms, I feel a little sad that I’ll never be able to play in person – but Who Killed Bugsy Marlowe doesn’t make me feel that way because it so beautifully translates to the digital format, I feel as if nothing is lost from the experience at all.
Who Killed Bugsy Marlowe definitely lives up to the ‘hype’ and my only regret is that I didn’t play this sooner! I absolutely love 1920s noir, murder mysteries, and escape rooms, so Bugsy Marlowe is a double thumbs up from me. I hope that at-home games like this one will be around to stay for a lot longer.
Who Killed Bugsy Marlowe can be booked on Great Scott Escape’s website here.