Insomnia Escape – Cosa Nostra [Review]

“La Cosa Nostra” is the Sicilian Mafia. Who knew?

Location: Washintongton, DC

Date played: January 10, 2016

Team size: 2-7; we recommend 2-4

Price: It’s complicated.

Theme & story

Cosa Nostra was your standard Prohibition escape room setup:

It’s 1933 and we were a team of federal agents entering a speakeasy to find documents linking a politician to the mafia.

The twist in Cosa Nostra was its superb execution.

An old bar with a rotary phone on it. Behind the bar is a mirrored wall lined with liquor bottles.

Design and Production

Insomnia Escape managed to assemble a collection of functional props that are of the era (or at least feel like it), and used them to build a room that felt like another world.

Cosa Nostra was beautiful and it is fully illustrated by their incredibly well-produced intro video (which was not available when we played the game). The video was largely shot within the game and will give you a sense of what is to come.

Irreplaceable experience?

Most of the objects in Cosa Nostra felt like they ought to belong in 1933. There were a few items that felt a little out of place such as key chains, some liquor bottles, modern money, and plastic poker chips, but for the most part, the game was firmly set in the past.

There were two large set pieces that floored our team. These old, heavily mechanical pieces were large, in working condition, and absolutely essential to the game. In a lot of ways, these set pieces made the game.

My long-term concern for Cosa Nostra is: what happens if these objects break? I cannot imagine that finding replacements would be an easy task. This is a hypothetical risk. At this point everything works well, but it could become an issue.

An old bar with a rotary phone, and a mechanical cash register.

Crowded space and bottlenecking

Parts of Cosa Nostra bottlenecked both physically and in gameplay.

There were a few locations within the set that only allowed for one or two players to participate at a time. When these locations became relevant, the game hinged on the two people involved.


Insomnia Escape crafted an experience and they want their players to see it through to the completion.

To that end, the game was not overwhelmingly difficult. It was meant to be solved. That’s not to say that there weren’t challenging puzzles; it would certainly be possible to lose. However Cosa Nostra was a far more player-friendly game than most.

Max support

We played Cosa Nostra with a family of fellow escape room addicts. One of our teammates was a 3rd grader, Max.

We’ve written about playing escape rooms with children before and how to maximize their fun. None of those rules applied with Max. He was incredible and played like he was born to solve puzzles.

Should I play Insomnia Escape’s Cosa Nostra?

Absolutely. Only avoid Cosa Nostra if you are looking for mind-boggling difficulty.

Insomnia has built a vibrant room that captures the 1930’s about as well as I imagine any escape room ever will. It’s attractive, entertaining, and includes some wonderful set pieces.

Insomnia Escape and Escape Room Live DC share a building. Go play with both companies. They have different approaches and both companies do great work.

Book your hour with Insomnia Escape’s Cosa Nostra, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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