Berlin, Nov 2017
Kowloon is an 18-rated escape game, and although the website description of the story doesn’t entirely spell it out, the plot is that you’re Triad gang members, breaking into a rival gang’s premises to swipe their loot. The premises in question happen to be a sex club, hence the game’s rating.
Perhaps the adult theme means that this is a game popular with the hen and stag do crowd – in the briefing the host seemed prepped for innuendo and banter, in a way that left us a little nonplussed. The host also acted throughout the game as our contact on the outside, communicating via smartphone. That was of course the hint mechanism, but, uniquely in my experience, the host went much further to not just provide game help but also to chat in-character as we played. I’m not sure if that was again intended to encourage banter to match the sleazy decor, or as a way of increasing immersion, but I found it an entertaining distraction that added to the game.
The content isn’t really any more risqué than the basement of a branch of Ann Summers, and the naughty bits are concentrated in the earlier sections of the game. Quite rapidly it settles down with the serious business of solving the game, which is sensible – even the rowdiest group will only be amused by rubber phalluses for a while.
As a set of puzzles, Kowloon is not so strong. A couple of points struck me as a bit arbitrary, and others as filler – generic brain teasers with little relation to the theme. But as an experience the game was a lot of fun. It’s very well decorated (obviously, your mileage will vary depending on whether you find the 18-rated bits amusing or off-putting), and the multi-level space works well. More importantly, although the puzzles weren’t anything special, some of the more physical parts of the game were a lot of fun. It doesn’t aim for a fully immersive or naturalistic style of play, but the impressive set, the clear progress through different physical areas and the extra immersion provided by the operator added up to a quality game.