*Who Killed Bugsy Marlowe? – Great Scott Escapes – Home Play Game*

Present-ish, March 2021, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant, Lioness

The good thing about online Escaping is that you know you can never actually get locked in the room. Even if it takes you all day, you know at some point you’ll solve the final door code and get all the celebration gifs and hooters as your reward. Or so we thought…

Who Killed Bugsy Marlowe? is the only game from Great Scott Escapes, in Pennsylvania (the game itself was originally created by Escape Works), and is currently available in three formats – as a ‘real’room; as a live virtual game with an avatar to guide you; or as a digital only version. We played as the latter and it did make me super-curious to play as a physical room, as the set-up looks fab. There’s been a murder in the Dunwich Tower Hotel and the action takes place not only in the hotel lobby but also its hallways and guest rooms. We have 360o views of the real venue with zoom-ins to the various puzzles, fairly straightforward controls and plenty of interesting exploration, quite successfully replicating the search element of RL game play.

As the name suggests, it is a 1930s whodunnit and all the styling – props, decor and puzzles – are era-specific and great fun. It really feels like a lot of love has gone into the theme; mobsters, champagne, shoeshine and stolen artefacts – Agatha Christie does American noir. The central premise itself is a Cluedo-esque logic puzzle – match the five suspects to their job, origin, favourite drink and potential murder weapon. A fun concept and nicely enabled with a logic grid and evidence bag to help you out.

Plot-wise, it is not exactly clear why you then need a numeric code to escape the hotel, but we’ll let that go. Our problem actually came with the execution of said code. We’d solved the mystery, identified our killer, calculated the code, but then the required keypad had very small, quite sensitive buttons and I caught the wrong one initially. Zoomed out of the pad, then zoomed back in to try again and, no dice, wouldn’t accept any input at all. Everyone else had a go, we exited and re-entered the game several times to no avail. Locked in, trapped in the virtual hotel lobby for all eternity with just a corpse and a cocktail menu for company.

Fortunately, we were rescued by the charming Daniel, from the appropriately named Help Us Escape (the digitalization company), who responded quickly to our cries for mercy. There is an unmarked reset button on the keypad, but if you are playing on a tablet (ie no mouse cursor) the name doesn’t show up to identify it as such. We never fully established if that was the sole cause or a wider glitch, but it was a shame that such an entertaining game finished in such a surreal fashion. Daniel did agree that labelling the reset button might help, so if you spot that improvement whilst playing you have our imprisonment to thank.

Overall, we found this an engaging and inventive adventure, full of cute period touches and clever interactions. Mostly non-linear, it is a good game for a team to go off and work separately or to pair up on a puzzle (particularly the upstairs/downstairs ones). Despite our Hotel California moment, we thoroughly recommend the Dunwich Tower for a pleasant virtual stay.

  • Storyline: A murder mystery requiring a dose of Escape Room logic to explain away puzzles, but with great back stories.
  • Theming and Virtual Set: Fabulous, detailed, expansive playing area, all totally in the mood.
  • Googling: Not needed.
  • Puzzles: Central logic puzzle core, quite a lot of searching and some innovative elements. A colour puzzle caused some disagreement.
  • Physicality: None.  
  • Scare factor: Poor old Bugsy Marlowe himself isn’t the most attractive sight.
  • Age suitability: No ages specified by the company. It plays as a relatively sophisticated game, but tweens should be fine (advisory for references to murder and alcohol).
  • Timed?: Slightly shamefully, can’t remember how this was timed, only that we had to knock about half an hour off for while we were kicking our heels over the damn door.
  • Requires: PC/laptops or decent tablet, plus additional comms. Pen and paper useful, printer not needed.

Great Scott Escapes website