Update 12/27/22: Escape from the Tower has been relocated since our original review to the castle’s other tower. The gameplay still leads you up the tower, and then back down to complete the game. The gameplay consisted of tangible layered puzzles, revolving around large set pieces. The set itself is, of course, the castle.
Where the current version struggles is in the new first act, where we were searching through barracks to solve a puzzle to enter the tower. This was search-hevy gameplay riddled with red herrings. It detracted from the more exciting elements of the game within the tower.
A four-story escape room in the tower of an actual castle.
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Date played: April 30, 2016
Team size: 12; we recommend 8-10
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: 36.00 CAD + HST per Ticket or 42.00 CAD + HST per Prime Time Ticket
Setting & story
Casa Loma is a historical Toronto landmark. This escape game was built into both the physical building and its history.
Escape from the Tower took place in the castle’s tower, up a few flights of stairs from the building’s entrance. The tower itself was a four-level set, ascended by spiral staircase as the game progressed.
This setting was unique and incredible; you can’t build a set like this.
We were characters working for the Allied forces during World War II. Our team needed to find the coordinates of enemy U-boats, transmit these coordinates to allied forces, and escape before the tower was bombed.
The story was derived from the history of Casa Loma and designed around the existing building. Actors facilitated the game and enhanced the immersive experience. We were the heroes in our hour-long story.
Escape from the Tower unfolded in stages. On each floor, we completed multiple puzzles that collectively unlocked the next floor.
While Casa Loma packed a variety of puzzles into this game, each set of simultaneous puzzles required similar skills. This forced all players to tackle different types of thinking instead of gravitating toward their own strengths.
That said, the puzzles were both fair and challenging.
Early in the escape room, the story unfolded through the puzzles. As the game progressed, the relationship between story and puzzles became more abstract.
This room escape used its space magnificently.
It also incorporated local history into a captivating and dramatic story.
Escape from the Tower came to life because we were the characters in a thrilling adventure that had to take place in this tower. And the tower was awesome.
Half of our team showed up drunk. When asked to create a team name, David suggested “Tequila,” because our teammates stumbled into the lobby bragging about how much they had imbibed. They, of course, loved the name.
Our hammered teammates severely diminished our experience.
In Casa Loma’s games, players book individual tickets. If you want to play with your friends, you need to book all 12 tickets in the time slot, and book them far in advance. We don’t always have this luxury when we travel. Unfortunately, our schedule worked out such that we had two tickets for a Saturday evening with whomever else booked the same time slot.
With regard to drunk players, the Casa Loma website says “… you may be grouped with other players, so it’s important that you’re cooperative. Please note if you arrive intoxicated, our staff has the right of refusal, and no refunds will be given.”
The staff has the right to refuse drunk players, but they don’t do it.
Saturday tickets cost $42 each.
Is this escape room worth the steep price tag? Not if your teammates show up drunk.
Should I play Casa Loma’s Escape from the Tower?
Escape from the Tower is a cohesive game, brilliantly staged, and seeped in local history. Toronto is a saturated escape room market. This game stands apart as a must play.
Book out the whole room well in advance, and bring people you trust. We wish we had the opportunity to give Escape from the Tower a play-through with sober people.
Note that due to the nature of castle, this game is not handicapped accessible. Also, players will climb a few flights of stairs and should wear appropriate shoes.
Image via Wikipedia