Can you spill the beans on what’s happening in Jim Robusta’s coffee company? Jim works alongside people with a shady past and has asked you to sniff out evidence of crime amongst the caffeine.
Completion Time: 2-3 hours
Date Played: 9th May 2021
Party Size: 4
Location: Blackfriars, London
Recommended For: Adventure fans! Folks who want a real good challenge in London.
CW: This game contains themes of drugs and murder and may not be suitable for a younger audience.
I normally start these reviews with a bold proclamation of what I love about the theme. Such as “I LOVE MURDER MYSTERY” or “I LOVE THE 80S” but Colombia’s Finest is about a drug ring operating out of a coffee shop so err… umm… I LOVE COFFEE!
No but seriously, this was like nothing else I’ve ever played and I don’t get to say that too often on The Escape Roomer because I’ve played a lot! Everything from the excellent technology, to the plot, to the brilliant writing, to the ‘non-linear’ format was unique. Could it be my new favourite outdoor puzzle trail company? Why yes, it might just be!
A mysterious coffee shop, an infamous drug ring, and a dead body! Shocking!
Actually, I had no idea what to expect in terms of the plot, but it was a little more explicit than I expected… Read As: walking around the centre of London loudly talking about cocaine, and getting to check autopsy reports. We tackled this game as a team of 4 consisting of me, my parents, and my 11 year old brother which, despite the theme, he found the whole experience absolutely hilarious (and I hope didn’t understand everything that was going on… Though he probably did! Kids have internet these days.)
Your first contact is a man named Jim Robusta, who suspects something very shady is happening at the coffee shop he works. Thankfully, you have a network of informants – a kinda modern day “Baker Street Irregulars”, if you’re familiar with Sherlock Holmes. These people have small tidbits of information and it’s up to you to travel around to each one and speak to them to figure out what’s going on and whether there’s a murderer on the loose! As the story unfolds, Jim’s life gets put in danger and you must seriously pick up the pace if you want to save him in time.
The game starts a short distance from Blackfriars Station in an inconspicuous square next to a library, featuring a very cool copper sculpture! Here, I waited a while in the late-pandemic deserted streets one sunny morning for my family to arrive.
The whole route is around 4 miles or so, or at least that’s what my step counter said by the end! But here I’m using the term ‘route’ very loosely because the fact is, you can actually take any route you want to complete this game. Your informers pop up at random intervals and whilst there’s a suggestion of who you need to see when, you might prefer to follow the interwoven story threads in a different way. So long as you solve the mystery and speak to as many people as you like, the choice is entirely yours. Take an unconventional route and you might find yourself cracking the case even quicker!
Our chosen path took us around the new builds of the City of London, through squares and leafy green spaces and even down along the river as we searched for the scene of the crime. The game both starts and ends in more or less the same area and with optional breaks there’s plenty to see and do.
If, like us, you choose not to take any breaks – I’d recommend grabbing a coffee at the end. The final location is a street or two away from St. Pauls and the Paternoster Square area is packed with cafes – even in lockdown and on a Sunday – for coffee.
The technology in this game gets it’s own section because I really enjoyed this part! I’d gone into the game like “yeah, I know the drill, I get puzzles texted to my phone…” BUT NO. Nothing like that at all! Instead you get a link to a fully interactive in-browser map. At first, one or two “points of interest” appear on the map, nudging you in a certain direction. The more you solve and discover, the more yellow dots appear on your map.
However, before you can interact with a yellow dot – which it typically one of your informants with information, you must solve a quick puzzle about the surrounding location. A question you could only know if you were actually there – so no cheating!
Each player has their own link and must also input answers into the game for a unique personal score at the end. However, the game updates at a similar pace. Things will happen at the same time across all your devices and we didn’t encounter any sort of lag by using three separate devices.
Solving the Puzzles
There are two types of puzzles in this game:
- The puzzles you encounter at each geographic location, to prove you’re actually in that space in order to talk to your informant.
- The over-arching mystery, where you must figure out who in the organisation has which role and who the murderer is.
For the first type, it’s quite simple! You’ll receive a small question or riddle about the location and, once arrived, must figure it out. Usually this involves looking around for a clue on a blue plaque, or a piece of wall art. They were riddles, sure, but none were tricky and felt more like a formality.
The second type was the opposite – very tricky indeed and involved all our deductive reasoning skills to figure out how to take down the expansive network of criminals!
After solving your final location based clue, the timer suddenly goes red and starts counting down the time you have left to submit your police report and you’re presented with a simple form to tick who is guilty of what, and why. We needed to go back and re-read everything, as each conversation we had with informants gave us some small piece of information that only made sense in the context of the bigger picture. Tricky!!
We cracked the case! Woohoo! Take that, murderer!
It was touch and go for a bit at the end and yes, I did have to break into a run to reach the last location – making for a really epic and out-of-breath finale. But overall? This experience was AWESOME. I genuinely can’t praise it enough. We had a really sunny day for it, no technology issues, and enjoyed an absolutely lovely coffee at the end as we continued chatting about the case well into the afternoon.
I think what the two creators (London-based couple Annaliza and Tony) have created is totally unique in the market and this would be a huge hit for office teams, groups of friends, and heck even families (though maybe not your 11 year old brother, unless he’s cool with this kinda stuff). I had a wonderful day out and I absolutely recommend this. Five stars!
Colombia’s Finest can be booked for £15 / player on Street Hunt’s website here.
They have also kindly provided me with a promo code for 20% off for The Escape Roomer readers: “THEESCAPEROOMER20”
Mairi is the editor-in-chief of The Escape Roomer and writes about news, and reviews covering London and UK south.