It's a surprisingly hard thing to write a review for an escape room experience. So much of the value you take is from your performance in the puzzle scenario. The dilemma is that it's difficult at times to ascribe deficiencies to the room's design – in which case criticism is valid – or merely one's own overwhelming stupidity – in which case your critique isn't worth anything, because you're a moron.
Escape Room Treasure Hunt's The Bootlegger's Dilemma frustratingly doesn't fall neatly into either category. Richard Maritzer of Fringe favourites Sound & Fury brings this pop-up escape room/shipping container to Gluttony, with plans in motion to erect a permanent location in Adelaide. By Maritzer's own account before the show, the experience did not have a smooth inception at this year's Fringe: cancelled flights, damaged components, electrical problems and venue disappointments have made this a rough launch for the emerging new branch of an established franchise of escape room experiences. To a noticeable degree the aesthetic impact of the room suffered as a result; it's hard to feel like a bootlegger in a dingy speakeasy with glaringly bright fluorescent lights overhead. Maritzer did however clearly go to some impressive lengths with the room's construction, with ingeniously handmade electric art deco gizmos, authentic-looking film noir playbills on the walls, and puzzles fluidly incorporated into the overall aesthetic.
It should be said the general puzzle-solving process is executed very well, and Maritzer is a confident and kind Puzzle Master. You always have the information you need to solve the puzzles, it just requires serious observation and communication. (You couldn't have told us you found a torch?!) There is perhaps one example of an electronic puzzle with an ambiguous yet correct solution that could use some honing, but overall it was an inventive and challenging creation that we attempted with enthusiasm but failed to complete in the slightly odd forty-five minute time limit.
So all of my criticism is irrelevant because I am a moron.
Escape Room Treasure Hunt's The Bootlegger's Dilemma is a great experience that had an unlucky opening. With the impending access to a permanent space where Maritzer can commit to the aesthetic, and maybe some light fettling of the puzzle architecture, I very much look forward to playing the next fiendish scenario he dreams up. Because I can't do this one again.
So my shame will stand for all eternity.