Bucharest, May 2018
An important warning here: there are two versions of this game, with and without a live actor. We played the version with the actor, which is only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays; book any other day of the week and you’ll get the version without. Personally I would recommend going for the version with the actor if at all possible, though I guess if immersive theatre isn’t your thing and playing a role makes you uncomfortable that might be reason to go on a different day.
Your job is to infiltrate Al Capone’s gang and divert his booze shipments, with the first challenge being to get into the hidden bar. The game’s style is theatrical from the outset, with a clever and amusing start that helped get us into the right mindset straightaway.
But while Prohibition is clearly a lovely, well-designed game in either of its versions, for us the actor was a brilliant addition that lifted it to being something quite special. I’ll avoid any detail of when or how live interactions occur, but you can expect it to be a feature of part of the game, while a greater proportion of the time is played as per a normal escape game. Where the actor is involved, our experience was that he was skilled at adapting his role to the group of players, meaning those who just want to focus on puzzles can do so, and anyone who feels like getting into character with a bad 1920s Chicago accent can go to town.
The presence of an actor of course helps with immersion, if that’s something you prize in escape rooms; but the game design also achieved that in many other ways large and small. Puzzles are cleverly integrated into a clear storyline in a way that meant it always felt like we knew what we were trying to achieve in narrative terms, not just attempting to open locked containers because they were there. I particularly liked the way they managed to incorporate parts of the story that would be impossible to fit inside the physical game area using puzzles that represented those actions in metaphor.
After we finished, the host was good enough to also show us the ending for failed teams, which kept to the same theatrical standards of the rest of the game and was a lot more entertaining than simply having a gamemaster walk into the room to tell players they’ve failed.
If you’re not in Bucharest mid-week then this would still be thoroughly worth playing, but if you can visit on a Tuesday or Thursday for the live performance version, the extra entertainment provided by the actor make this a must-play game.