Posted in The Escape Room Guys

The Grand Heist – The Escape Room Guys

Game 35

It’s fair to say that our only visit to Derby to date wasn’t particularly great. You can read more about that here. This time, we returned to a far more reliable company by reputation, The Escape Room Guys, to play their newest game The Grand Heist

THE STORY

Your target is a high security bank based in Derby. A large deposit has been tracked so it is time to get the old team back together for one final heist. You have just 60 minutes worth of access to the facility. Use your time wisely.

THE GAMEPLAY

The Grand Heist combines both linear and non linear elements to it’s game. The first part of the game presents itself in a linear way with some very inventive and satisfying puzzles to begin with. We over complicated the first puzzle and it took us a little longer than it should of but once we got our head in the game we found ourselves to make fairy decent progress. One of the pleasant things about the game is that, although linear in style, you can begin to piece together elements of a puzzles before you reach them. While one of our group was busy solving one part, another had already pieced together two elements that meant when we reached that part of the game we knew what we needed to do next. It meant that we had a real sense of achievement as we made our way through the game. One of the things Grand Heist does is give you information before the game begins. Our GM provided us with the backstory behind the room and this gave some hints to useful information before we began. It’s something we’ve not experienced before but certainly helped with the flow of the game as we entered. The game turns from linear to non-linear as you make your way into the vault. Up until this point there has a been a mix of word, observation, sound and logic puzzles. The vault, really begins to test your numerical puzzling skills with many of them either requiring maths and all giving you a numerical answer. This is because Grand Heist isn’t your usual escape room. This is more of a loot game than an escape room but with all the enjoyable escape elements included. The aim, very simply, is to collect as many of the 12 gold bars as you can and escape in 60 minutes for your final total to count. We were told that on average groups left with 4! The vault contains what can be described as similar to a parcel pick up machine with gold bars locked behind some of the doors. You just have to work out the code in which to get to them! Puzzles can be found via the vaults tablets. There is a nice mix of puzzles here but be aware that it’ll be difficult to work on more than 2 puzzles at a time. For a maximum of 6, a third tablet may be useful but as a group of 3 we found two more than enough.

The game play in the room flows beautifully and the signposting was perfect meaning that we really didn’t come unstuck as we played. There was one point we needed a real nudge but that was down to our searching rather than the room. It felt really satisfying to play as aha moments came and the games set up meant for very little frustrations. The games clue system comes on a handy screen in the bank, which fits well with the decor and also provides your countdown.

DECOR

There has always been a lot of debate about how you theme a game set in a bank. After all, a bank is a functional space. They aren’t spaces that can really let a designers creativity flow. What The Escape Room Guys have done here is exactly what it needs, they’ve turned it into a room that looks like a bank. Details on the wall that are in keeping but not overwhelming, props and furniture that fits exactly and potentially one of the most near perfect recreations of a bank we’ve seen in the heist games we’ve played in the past. They’ve kept it pretty simple and it pays off.

OVERALL

The Escape Room Guys have created a really authentic game that uses its space really well. It’s a great take on a heist game that gives it a different feel and doesn’t have a laser maze like so many others. The first half will be an enjoyable experience for enthusiasts although not hard but the second half will certainly test your grey matter. It’s certainly made us want to go back and try their other two games.

Escaped: 59 minutes with 7 gold bars having taken 1 clue

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Overall *****

Posted in Game Over

Winter is Coming – Game Over Derby

Game 8

Having been lucky enough to win a Facebook competition, we went along to the Derby branch of Game Over to play their Game of Thrones themed room, Winter is Coming

THE STORY

The last great barrier keeping the undead hoards at bay has fallen. All seems lost. They do not sleep, eat, feel or die. Yes there may still be hope. My party of Maesters and i have found a hidden weapon of great power & magic. If only we could escape this black fortress to use it…

THE WELCOME

I don’t normally mention the welcome and intro to game but on this occasion I felt I should as it effects my overall review of the experience. We arrived on a very rainy afternoon. As we walked down the street towards the venue, we saw several others entering the building. We arrived and pressed the intercom but no answer. We tried again, but still no answer. We tried to call the number posted on the door but again no answer. We were fairly wet by this point. Luckily, a few members of our team were already in so we rang them and they got the host to open the door. We arrived to find that there were 3 games due to start at the same time as us. Our host (who I never did get the name of sorry!), tried to arrange us into groups, only to find out that none of the other hosts knew the intro to any of the games being played. This led to a first, an intro that resulted in us being told specifics about other rooms we weren’t playing. Sadly, it didn’t give the personal touch we have often come to recognise when visiting escape rooms.

THE GAMEPLAY

The games intro was delivered in the room by our host. They also very kindly provided us with cups of water outside the first room as it was the hottest room in the building. We could then nip in and out if we needed to get a drink. This was certainly welcome. Unusually, we could see the main room from our starting point but obviously had to work out just how to get in. We were given a free hint to begin with, which I guess is due to some difficulties from groups in the past. The game is very linear and although there are a few moments where a couple of things can be done in a slightly different order, it very much follows a pattern. If you aren’t a Game of Thrones fan, don’t worry. The game doesn’t need any specific GoT knowledge but there is one puzzle where GoT knowledge would mean you could complete the puzzle quicker. Most puzzles in the room are logic puzzles with a smattering of Maths thrown in. On the whole, the puzzles were very in keeping with the theme. My biggest complaint is that there weren’t that many of them. The puzzles that did exist used some really great technology and made finding the next step very interesting . Be aware, if you have issues with your knees, there is a good amount of crawling. Knee pads are provided if you so wish!

Hints came over a speaker and the way to ask for hints is fairy simple. We only asked for 3 hints during the game but at times, these were a long time coming from the point we had asked for them. This meant we had a couple of moments where we were stood around waiting for a hint, hindering our progress.

There were some really nice aha moments in the room and a few “what’s that noise?” moments when you knew you’d caused something to move but had to work out what. The game moved at a good pace and kept the 6 of us interested for the whole time. If anything, the finale was very anti climatic and left us with a bit of a “is that it?” kind of ending.

DECOR

This was certainly a strength for the room. The theme was superbly thought through and certainly immersed you in the world of GoT. All of the puzzles, minus one, fit perfectly with the theme. It’s clear that some elements of the game that need to be interacted with have been well loved. So much so that these have disintegrated in places and show the wood holding them up. There are also a few props that should have been attached to the wall but seem to come away with a light tug. It’s nothing a little bit of TLC wouldn’t fix but certainly isn’t the standard you hope for in an escape room. The giant Iron Throne was a great touch, if not underutilised.

OVERALL

At the end of the game, successful escapes are rewarded with a photo on the Iron Throne. We had a group photo together and when we asked if we could have one more, we were met with “you’ll have to be quick, I have to reset for another group”. Understandable, but with an escape time of 50:51, there was enough time to take a couple of pictures. It did taint the experience with customer service that didn’t seem to care too much. In order to understand how well we did, I had to ask our host. Often, when visiting a room, part of the game debrief is to explain how well you’ve done. Sadly, this is lacking here.

The game was a huge amount of fun to play as a Game of Thrones fan and meant that I often found myself smiling at the links to the TV series. The theme was great and, although it did have a story, it seemed a little tagged on as the game didn’t really discover the weapon of power and magic. For enthusiasts it can be done in a smaller group but beginners may need to bring a group of at least four to help cover the space. Overall a reasonable experience which could be improved so easily. If you have a list of games to play, visit those before considering Winter is Coming, unless you are a die hard GoT fan.

Theme *****

Decor *****

Gameplay *****

Difficulty *****

Customer Service*****

Overall *****