One of the best escape room in a box puzzle game experiences we’ve had as a family was playing through Blackbrim 1876 from Puzzling Pursuits together.
Today I’m going to be looking at another puzzle game from Puzzling Pursuits, La Famiglia, an escape room in a box with a late 1920s Chicago “Al Capone” theme.
Disclosure: Thank you Puzzling Pursuits for sending along these puzzle games for us to check out. Links in this post may be affiliate links. As an Amazon associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
What kind of game is La Famiglia?
La Famiglia is an escape room in a box style puzzle game published by Puzzling Pursuits in 2020. It is the first of three games in a trilogy but stands alone as a single product as well, telling a complete story. This puzzle game is designed for one to six players though I feel it’s best at five.
The game is split into two chapters, each of which can take upwards of two hours. We split the game over two nights and figure our total time was pretty close to four hours. The suggested age listed is fourteen plus which seems a bit high. While there is talk of mafia hits in the game there are no actual violent acts described nor any gory descriptions or foul language.
You can get La Famiglia on sale right now for $34.95 direct from Puzzling Pursuits where it has a regular retail price of $60.
Welcome to Chicago in 1929, Al Capone was just arrested and you are investigators contacted by the FBI to assist their investigation into a gang called La Famiglia. This new gang looks like it may even be more dangerous than Capone’s Chicago Outfit. The FBI, through an undercover agent, has acquired a number of hidden messages and ciphers being passed between La Famiglia capos and needs your help deciphering them.
For a look at the components you get with this puzzle game check out our La Famiglia unboxing video on YouTube. While I don’t show off the specific clues here you do get a chance to see just how much you get in the box and the overall quality of the components.
I found the quality here to be excellent, even though what you get is really just a series of different paper products. These include multiple sealed envelopes and things like a newspaper segment, an invitation, menus, posters, and more.
One complaint we did have with all of the paper in La Famiglia is that quite a bit of paper was glossy and was not great for writing on. This leads me to another thing to be aware of with this game. You are meant to write on and fold things. While it is theoretically possible to solve the case without destroying anything you are going to go through a lot of scrap and tracing paper.
Plus the game contains a number of sealed envelopes that aren’t really resealable without applying some tape.
We started off trying to save the game so we could pass it on to someone else and gave up part way through and just started folding and writing on things.
How La Famiglia is Played
La Famiglia was a surprisingly immersive Escape Room In A Box experience.
One of our favourite things about Blackbrim 1876 was that it featured multiple individual puzzles that were independent from each other. This made them easy to split between the players. This is also true of La Famiglia with each chapter providing five stand alone puzzles and a meta puzzle to wrap up the end of each chapter.
This was perfect for our group of five players which included my mother in law, both kids, my wife and I.
One difference this time around though is that none of us managed to solve anything on our own. Every single puzzle in La Famiglia got passed around and teamed up on before we managed to solve them. For us at least, the puzzles here were more involved and more difficult than in Blackbrim 1876. This is not a bad thing.
We especially enjoyed that nothing was as easy as it seemed in La Famiglia. Most of the puzzles had multiple steps and while the first part might be easy, and you might look at a puzzle and think, well I know exactly what to do, that solution just ended up leading you to another puzzle. This was mainly true for Part I. The puzzles in Part II had fewer steps but were much more opaque in what you had to do to solve them.
The puzzle balance between both chapters felt just about right. There was an interesting mix of logic puzzles, math puzzles, vocabulary puzzles, physical manipulation puzzles, observation puzzles, and outside of the box thinking, between all of the parts of this game.
The difficulty seemed pretty constant as well. There was nothing that was super easy to solve and yes, we did have to use a few clues here and there to get through everything in a reasonable amount of time. What we never did have to do is look up a final solution, in every case when we were stuck one or two early clues gave us what we needed to figure things out on our own.
The best part about La Famiglia especially when you compare it to Blackbrim 1876 is the immersion you get while playing it. In Blackbrim 1876 you were basically given a bunch of separate puzzles by a Riddler-like character which really had nothing to do with anything in the story. You just had to solve them all to eventually free all of the cops.
In La Famiglia, the clues you are given represent actually physical ciphers that the La Famiglia goons are using to communicate with each other and they feel exactly like that. Added to that the story is based on a real historical period and actual events that happened. The people involved are real people and the overall case is based on events that actually happened.
While I wouldn’t call La Famiglia a historical game and I know it’s not 100% historically accurate, the tie-ins to real history do help you feel more immersed in the case. It feels like you are solving actual clues and not just random puzzles.
My wife did note that one thing that does take you out of this immersion is the modern nature of the physical products used in La Famiglia. While the newsprint feels like it could be legit I don’t think they had thick glossy cardstock in the 1920s. Having period quality paper would have been a next step that would have made the La Famiglia experience even more engaging. Plus there’s the whole fact that you need to check your answers online.
Overall we really enjoyed La Famiglia. This is an excellent puzzle based game that my family had a great time solving together. We loved the way the puzzles were split up into individual, unrelated chunks and the immersion brought in by the puzzles being tied to the 1920’s gangster theme. While we did get stuck a few times and had to team up on every puzzle, as well as use a few hints, we finished off feeling smart and accomplished and that’s always a great feeling.
If you dig puzzle games that include a wide range of puzzle types including logic, word, math, and physical puzzles, you should check out La Famiglia. This is especially true if you dig the Al Capone, late 20s, theme as it’s integrated so well here.
What you won’t find here is a murder mystery to solve. This isn’t that kind of puzzle game. It’s not a crime scene investigation, it’s more of an escape room in a box, though there’s no box to escape. La Famiglia is all about solving puzzles and not deducing answers from clues.
Due to its theme integration and the style of puzzles, I think this would be a good intro to Puzzling Pursuit’s style of games. While we did enjoy Blackbrim 1876, a lot, the added level of immersion here made La Famiglia more engaging and also more memorable.
If you don’t like puzzles this isn’t going to be a game for you. There’s no board game to be seen here and the story isn’t really deep enough to stand as a storytelling experience. You would be better off just grabbing a history book or doing some googling to learn about the period on your own.
We really enjoyed both of the games that we got to try from Puzzling Pursuits. They felt quite different from other escape room in a box style games. They almost feel like a mid-way point between pure puzzle games like the EXIT games and Murder Mystery games like the Hidden Games Crime Scene series.
What’s your favourite style of puzzle game? Do you like using deduction to solve the case, or do you prefer ciphers and puzzles? Let us know in the comments below!