In 1990, Rembrandt’s The Storm on the Sea of Galilee and Vermeer’s The Concert were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. They have remained missing to this day. With the FBI offering a reward of $1 million, and an estimated black market value of $100 million they are the most valuable stolen paintings in the world. And we know where they are.
Completion Time: ~60 minutes
Date Played: 18th July 2021
Party Size: 6
Recommended For: Aspiring Art Thieves, fans of the Netflix Show ‘This is a Robbery’
Everybody loves a good heist documentary… Right? OK maybe just me.
*quietly closes Netflix watch history*
During a long lockdown of me sitting at home in my pyjamas watching heist documentaries (such as This is a Robbery – which The Perfect Crime is a loosely based sequel to), Rogue Immersive have been hard at work planning a heist of their own. What they’ve launched this summer is an experience that puts you, the player, at the centre of your very own art heist.
So for each time you’ve watched a thief accidentally leave their fingerprint at the scene of the crime and thought “hah! amateur”, you now have an opportunity to see if you can do any better. It’s a realistic heist simulator in the centre of London and not for the faint of heart.
Stealing Vermeer’s “The Concert”
On the day we arrived bright and early and got chatting with one of the team. Since both rooms were available, despite having booked for The Storm, we got the choice of either:
- The Concert
- The Storm
“Which do you recommend?” we asked. After some careful thought, our host recommended we give The Concert a go instead. This suggests there are some differences between the two experiences. Although the puzzles are the same, the rooms you’ll have to navigate through vary in layout which is worth considering before you book.
In both cases you’ll have around 60 minutes to get in and get out. Unlike a traditional escape room where the goal is to escape, The Perfect Crime is more focused around breaking into the room undetected.
Break In, Steal the Painting, Get Out
Our experience started from the moment we entered the Theatre Deli on Broadgate Circus. What seemed like an unassuming bar from the outside was actually the site of several long lost paintings that would fetch millions on the black market. Who knew?
From here, you get your team briefing inside the bar – plenty of time to grab a drink, go to the bathroom, and use the lockers too. We were given a walkie talkie to communicate with our handler – someone on the inside who could act as the eyes and ears, remotely monitoring CCTV to tell us when guards were on their way. We were also given a blueprint of the first room and gloves to wear. Wouldn’t want to get fingerprints on anything, of course.
Once we were kitted out and clues up, we were led to a very small storage cupboard and from there the adventure began!
Including the storage room, it’s a 4-room experience. 5, if you could the bar outside as well! At the risk of giving any spoilers, I’ll just say that each room had it’s own unique flair and personality and felt well suited in the world Rogue Immersive have created. The whole experience felt very real.
One of the unique selling points of The Perfect Crime were the live actors. By this, I mean the guards. If you’re caught on camera or set off too many alarms, a guard will come running. When this happens you have two choices:
- Hide as fast as you can!
- Come up with a brilliant cover story
I think, despite the fact you’re trying not to get caught, the game is best played when you have to do both of these things.
In the first case, we had to hide from guards several times. Mainly, I hid under a table, which worked fine until the guard came to sit at a chair, her boots just inches from me. Eek! In the second case, we were caught once towards the end of the game and had to quickly make up a cover story of why we were in this room. Our story definitely wasn’t believable, but acting out a part and looking as nonchalant with fistfuls of cocaine in our hands felt thrilling.
So how DO you steal a painting?
By solving puzzles? Kinda. In terms of getting that ‘escape room fix’, The Perfect Crime is quite light on puzzles. But in hindsight I think that’s okay. Rogue Immersive have leaned more heavily on the ‘immersive theatre’ genre and the fewer the puzzles, the broader an audience they’re able to attract.
In each room the ultimate goal is to get to the next one, but before we could do that there was always one or two things to solve. It might be a safe that needs cracking, or a sneaky “what can we place on this pressure plate as not to trigger the alarm” device that felt right out of a Hollywood film. The only unfortunate part was that this made for a fair amount of standing around watching someone else do all the fun stuff. It’s true, on multiple occasions the ‘security measures’ meant only one person at a time could cross, leaving the rest of us watching from the sidelines.
For this reason The Perfect Crime would be best played with a smaller team. I think 2 or 3 players might be the sweet spot. Plus, it’s easier to explain away just two intruders when the guards come crashing in, right? But the six of us?! Haha. No way.
Escape Room with a Bar
My favourite part of the whole experience? The bar. I think the location and the addition of a fully functioning bar with heist themed cocktails really elevates the experience from ‘escape room’ to ‘lets hang out here for half a day’.
The day we booked was a beautiful (and rare) sunny Sunday. Being able to sit down for a celebratory cocktail or two at the end was an wonderful added touch. Why don’t more escape rooms have bars, eh?
I’ll admit I was a little hesitant in the weeks leading up to The Perfect Crime. For us, the booking process was a little rocky (read as: our original booking on opening day was cancelled last minute and getting a response from their customer support team very difficult), but I think an experience can’t be judged on a couple of misplaced emails when the interaction we got from the team on the day was fantastic. Seriously, a huge shout out to our unnamed eyes and ears at the other end of the walkie talkie, the brilliant acting from the guard, and our host!
For the right team of would-be thieves, The Perfect Crime will be a huge hit! For the best experience, bring a smaller team and be sure to leave plenty of time to enjoy a drink or two on the terrace outside after.
I’m just glad that after watching the Netflix documentary I finally know what actually happened to Vermeer’s The Concert!
The Perfect Crime can be booked on their website here.
** Note: Since writing this review, The Perfect Crime has announced that as well as group ticket for up to 6 (what we purchased) players will be able to purchase individual tickets which, depending on availability, will place players in groups with strangers.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief of The Escape Roomer and writes about news, and reviews covering London and UK south.