Case Closed Review | Max Sinclair, private investigator, has been found dead in his own office. Foul play? Tough times? Or just plain old bad luck? The other cops call it an open and shut case… You’re not like other cops.
Completion Time: 75 minutes
Date Played: 12th February 2023
Party Size: 4
Okay, stop the press!
Case Closed is without a doubt my new favourite room in Edinburgh. No- favourite in Scotland. And for that matter, a strong contender for my favourite in the UK. If I don’t see Case Closed listed on the 2023 TERPECA nominations for the UK, I’ll be very surprised indeed.
So what does Case Closed have that makes it so special? It’s a 90 minute room in the heart of Edinburgh. So far, fairly normal. There’s no “escape”, and your currency is information: instead of unlocking doors and running away, you succeed by filling out reports to your superintendent, and if your information is correct you may proceed. It’s about as realistic as it gets to solving a real case – think blood spatter analysis, forensics, and guns. Furthermore, there are no leader boards or ‘escape times’, no, you’re supposed to take your time and enjoy it rather than worry about beating a score. It has a spectacular ending which I’m still buzzing about days later. It’s also designed and crated by an enthusiast, who was also our GM for the day. You can tell the difference between an escape room for profit, and escape room born out of absolute passion and love. Case Closed is the latter.
In all, Case Closed has all the ingredients to being a perfect room. We went in with no expectations and came out very pleasantly surprised.
The Case is Not Closed
On arrival, we headed into the building marked “Black Axe Throwing Co” – an impressive axe throwing venue sporting one of the city’s only “zero alcohol” bars (well, axe throwing and alcohol don’t mix). From there, we waited at the sign marked Case Closed and within a few minutes were greeted enthusiastically by our host Ronan. Ronan took us upstairs into a noir-esque office space with a thematically flickering light in the corner, the whole place marked with “crime scene do not cross” tape.
After a short briefing, we were given roles and asked to choose our detective names. I went for Mairi Two-Guns, and a suitable role of “ballistics expert”. Of the other three players in my team, we had Superintendant Ouagadulu, Detective Moose, and Spins. Between the four of us, we represented very different types of escape room players – one of us with over 300 rooms played, one with around 100, one with under 10, and one with 0. For us, it was the perfect mix. Expectations out the door, just there to have a laugh and see how well we worked together as a team of detectives.
Whilst I could make a case that your room begins outside of the entrance, from that moment on we were in the game.
Now, Case Closed is a room best played without any expectations, so we’re going to keep spoilers here to an absolute minimum. The basic principle of the room is that you have the solve the case. But it’s not quite so simple. In true bureaucratic style, you solve the case by correctly filling out various case files. You collect evidence, you present your findings, and proceed. To present your evidence, at any time you could submit a case report to the superintendent (the real one, not the friend in the room with us). If the superintendent is happy with your findings, you might receive a thumbs up or the next piece in the puzzle and the case progresses.
To find all the information we needed, we well and truly had to think like a detective. We had to analyse every bit of information available to us, in the room and in the crime scene. Think fingerprints, shoe sizes, ballistics analysis, blood spatter, notebooks, recordings. It’s safe to say this room will make you feel well and truly like a detective. And, between you and me (as someone who did an internship with the Metropolitan Police right out of university), it’s actually pretty accurate too.
The puzzles themselves were a perfect mix of logic, deduction, and critical thinking, making us feel like real detectives as we worked together to crack the case. It’s non-linear, so at times we broke off into groups to solve a different thing, and often came back together to work on a trickier puzzle. The flow of the game was flawless. Since we had a whole 90 minutes, it wasn’t a case of racing through everything but taking your time, understanding and logically solving everything. Like a really, really good boxed murder mystery, but played out in a large physical space.
And that ending?! Don’t get me started on the ending. It was brilliant. But that’s all we’ll say about that for now.
Detective Work at it’s Finest
One of the things that made Case Closed so special to me was that attention to detail, love and care. Case Closed is an escape room created by two enthusiasts and veterans of the theatre and escape room industry. They had a brilliant idea for an escape room, saved up, found a location, and brought the whole thing to life themselves. As I mentioned earlier in the review, you can really tell when an escape room is being built by a faceless corporation to spin a profit, versus created by someone who just loves it, and Case Closed was the latter. We were fortunate enough that one of the creators, Ronan, was also our Games Master, and they took the time to take us through all the details of the experience after.
My first question: “Okay but when are you making another room?!”
Because we’ll be first in line to book it, that’s for sure.
In all, I give Case Closed the highest commendation possible. In all the rooms I’ve done, it’s up there as one of my absolute favourites. This was a surprise for a drizzly, rainy Sunday morning in a city not especially known for it’s escape rooms (though I hope that’ll change). I would almost go so far as to say Case Closed is more than an escape room. It’s immersive theatre. It’s murder mystery. It’s “Escape Room Plus”. To me, that’s very cool.
As a result, we’ve decided to award Case Closed with a special badge – the “Badge of Honour”.
In terms of who I’d recommend it for – given it’s more of a mature theme of ‘murder’, the company have a 16+ age rating. In honesty, I think it would be fine for a younger audience since there’s nothing too upsetting or graphic, however this may have more to do with the venue itself (Black Axe Throwing) being a 16+ venue. In terms of “is this for an enthusiast or a newbie?” I’d say both. It’s brilliant when you find a room you can seamlessly take players of all experiences and just know they’re going to have a great time, but Case Closed is one of those places.
After our room, we went round the corner for a drink and a bite to eat at O’Connor’s – which was well priced, delicious and a welcome break from the grey skies. Black Axe Throwing Co also has an excellent bar on premises for that post-game celebratory drink (zero alcohol, of course). And, if you didn’t quite catch the killer, the axe throwing is great to get rid of some pent up anger.
Case Closed can be booked in Edinburgh by heading to their website here.