Murdoch Mystery Escape Room Coming Soon to Toronto

Feel like you need to escape 2016? There’s some good news for you.

Coming in early 2017 from Secret City Adventures, Toronto will boast another unique Escape Room experience built around our own unique culture and history. After the success of the Casa Loma escape series, Secret City has teamed up with production company Shaftesbury to create a brand-new, Murdoch Mysteries-inspired Escape Game.

Set in turn-of-the-century Toronto, detective William Murdoch pioneers forensic techniques in order to solve brutal crime cases. As one of Canada’s most popular television shows both locally and abroad, the game designers at Secret City had a healthy challenge before them for designing the game. But according to Producer Leonardo Dell’Anno, it’s a rewarding challenge nonetheless.

“With social media and the way we communicate now, we are in the driver’s seat.” muses Leo during our interview, “In our entertainment, we just don’t want to sit down and consume, we want to be a part of it. It’s theatre, but more immersive.”

During the three and a half years of Secret City’s operations, their games have exploded in popularity amongst residents and tourists alike. And being part of the first company to operate Escape Rooms in the downtown area helps them stay in demand.

“The demand for what we do is diverse,” says Leo. “We will have a 74-year-old having their birthday on the same day that a 10-year-old also has theirs. There are people who have never done an escape game before and people who have done maybe sixty or seventy.” Such anecdotes represent a snapshot of the people and stories that Leo sees at work every day: “People come in, and they learn about each other. Earlier this year we had a family come in at each other’s throats, and after their hour they thanked the actors. It was the most effective communication they’d had in years.”

Official poster for the Murdoch Escape Game, launching February 2017

For the uninitiated, Escape rooms typically involve a 15-minute intro and outro, and in between players get a one-hour session where they are tasked with working together to solve a puzzle. This means an hour where attendees are locked in a room together, without a phone in hand or distractions from the outside world. Terrifying and therapeutic all at once, with the local flavor providing some Canadian quirks.

“All of our original games use elements from Toronto and Ontario. We’ve got a great history, you might as well use it,” says game designer Kevin Parnell. “It’s not the same game you’d see in other places.”

Meeting with Leo and Kevin in Toronto’s west end, it’s easy to see how the character of the city has inspired their games. With the successes of their Casa Loma and Chinatown-based games, they’re looking forward to employing historical buildings at George Brown College for the upcoming Murdoch game.

“We were approached by Shaftesbury [the production company currently owning the rights to Murdoch Mysteries] about creating the game, and to us it just made sense.” explains Leo. Kevin is quick to add how “The episodic format and the detective genre make the show a lot like an Escape game already. Why not jump into that world?”

Game Designer Kevin Parnell (Left) and Producer Leo Dell’Anno (Right) of Secret City Adventures take much inspiration from Toronto itself for their signature games.

Although the game is based on an established part of Canadian pop culture, the creators have put forward an accessible experience even if you’re not a Murdoch super fan: “Maybe this is your first exposure to Murdoch Mysteries, but it’s got a lot of history, wonder and invention. It’ll be fun for people who follow the show as well as people who’ve never seen it before.” Leo promises. “Fans can expect a lot of Easter Eggs and references to the show, and you will feel like you are part of its world.”

What also makes the upcoming Murdoch game unique presents a shift in genre for Escape rooms – “You see a lot of horror and military-themed games.” points out Kevin. “This is more historical, and steampunk. But I’d love to see something like a 50’s soda shop setting! Something where people won’t just think it’s scary.”

The debut game in the Murdoch Escape Series begins in early February, with tickets already sold out for the first few weeks of sessions. But what’s next for Secret City? Leo is tight-lipped, for now: “We have some very cool properties coming up that we’re not allowed to talk about yet – but stay tuned!”

Tickets are available at Secret City’s Website.

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