Enigma Quests: The Million Pound Heist | Review

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The Million Pound Heist Review | Your team is breaking into the safehouse of London’s most notorious criminal gang. You will have to analyse highly confidential information, navigate your way through top level security and all this before you can even attempt to enter the vault. Of course there is money involved, but the challenges along the way will be tough and efficient teamwork will be absolutely essential to get you anywhere. Only the top scoring teams will make it to the leaderboard. Do you have what it takes to make the top ten?

Completion Time: 40 minutes
Date Played: 3rd October 2021
Party Size: 3
Difficulty: Medium

If the name The Million Pound Heist evokes images of a similarly named TV show from a decade ago… You’re not alone! But there’s something so exciting about knowing there’s a whole million pounds (that’s $1,362,345 USD for our American readers) up for grabs and you’ve got 1 hour to get out with as much as you possibly can.

Bring on the challenge!

About The Million Pound Heist

The aim of The Million Pound Heist isn’t to escape in the fastest time, it’s to escape with the most money. This is for the best, as we actually missed a vital clue at the end of our game, and walked out of the room thinking we’d finished with a whopping 35 minutes left on the clock. Our Games Master came rushing out to tell us we’d missed something and that we could go back in if we wanted and try to get some more money with our remaining 35 minutes… Oops!

This seems to be a recurring theme with Enigma Quests, as the only other game we’ve played (so far) was Witchcraft and Wizardry, in which the aim of the game wasn’t to escape the fastest, but to pass all your magical tests.

Since a friend I used to escape with frequently was back in down for one day (and one day only), of course we had to book ourselves in for old time’s sake. For this reason, we found ourselves on a bright and sunny Sunday morning locking ourselves in a safehouse and scrambling to get as much cash in a briefcase as possible. Typical Sunday, eh?

We set off ALL the alarms…

One of the things I loved the most about the Million Pound Heist was the decor. For a Heist room, it’s pretty good! When you first open the door you’ll be greeted by a pretty cosy looking safe room. If I were a super thief, I’d want to hang out here too… But no time to sit down! We were immediately on our toes rummaging around trying to open cupboards and look behind plant pots figuring out what to do.

The game gets off to a slow-ish start with some paper-based puzzles, but we found there was just enough to do for our little team of 3 to keep us all busy and occupied in that first space before the exciting part of the game begun: Breaking into the vault!

The second (and third, and fourth) spaces in the escape room are the exciting part. It’s not too much of a giveaway to mention that there’s an exciting laser maze. By this point, I feel like it’s a given in a heist room, but Enigma Quest does theirs pretty well.

Unfortunately, we barrelled straight through the laser maze setting off all the alarms… Oops!

But more than your standard laser maze room, what I enjoyed even more was a very creative pressure plate puzzle that forced us into a hilarious gymnastic-like round of Twister! Good job we’d had our morning coffees.

How fast can you count money?

In terms of puzzles, there’s an interesting mix of puzzles that ranged from the “we loved it” to “ehhh, not a fan”. So really… The puzzles were like marmite! Some we loved and some we didn’t like at all. As mentioned, one of the first puzzles players will encounter takes place over a piece of paper which is a little hard for a bigger group to crowd around. Similarly, the last puzzle which, if you choose not to bypass it, quickly reveals itself to be a repetitive exercise which could (and did) take a team a very long time to complete. There was a lot of maths, and counting, and looking for things which are so cleverly hidden we had to search and re-search spaces several times to find them.

Thankfully we had a maths graduate, an accountant, and someone who is quite short and doesn’t mind crawling around looking for things (me!), so it worked out alright.

By contrast, there was a delightful number of very tactile puzzles that involved moving, stepping, jumping, pushing, pulling, and sliding around the room. Any room that makes me jump around like a headless chicken with a big grin on my face is a double thumbs up.

We didn’t ask for any clues as none of the puzzles were particularly difficult, so I can’t comment on the clue system. However I will mention that every clue you ask for will deduct 10% of your total earnings from your ending. This means that if you ask for 10 clues or more, you’ll walk away with nothing.

Crack the Safe, Bag the Loot!

We scored £620,535 in winnings out of a possible £1,000,000. Apparently, this is above average. Our GM informed us that most teams escape with around £250,000, and because we escaped with no clues we also all took home wristbands to proudly show off our success. It was a really nice touch, and it was enough to get us a spot on the leader board!

Overall, its a really fun room with some nice, unique heist mechanics. It wasn’t always clear what to do and the fact we did walk out of the room accidentally early thinking the game was over, only to be told to go back in was a bit of a hiccup in an otherwise fun experience – but on the other hand I suppose it’s our fault for not noticing some small details which may have hinted that no… The game was far from over!

The Million Pound Heist can be booked at Enigma Quest by heading to their website here.

Ratings

Rogue Immersive: The Perfect Crime | Review

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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.

Rating: Enjoyable
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.

Photo (c) The Perfect Crime

Heavily Guarded

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.

Concept Art (c) The Perfect Crime

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?

The Verdict

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.

Cryptology: The Complete Guide

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Cryptology goes beyond just an escape room, this is an immersive experience. Search for secrets, discover clues and hints, then solve puzzles to reach the unique goal. Every game at Cryptology is different with tailor-made themes and bespoke challenges. With fantastic game flow, handcrafted set design, and unique puzzles – their games are admired by enthusiasts, gamers, families, and friends alike. Their games are immersive and rewarding and they pride themselves on great customer service and banter too.

Why Cryptology?

We at Escaping the Closet are HUGE fans of the Cryptology Rooms, and can proudly say that we have played all of their rooms across both locations as well as previous rooms that are now decommissioned (boo 😭 ). Cryptology rooms combine unique themes, innovative puzzles and exciting use of technology to provide some of our favourite escape experiences we have come across among all of the hundreds that we’ve played!

As we have so much to say about Cryptology, we thought it would be best to bundle it all into one big review to showcase just how amazing Cryptology is and why, if you haven’t already, you should check them out for what we can guarantee to be a brilliantly immersive escape experience!

So…we thought long and hard about how best to do Cryptology justice when writing this (almost felt like a puzzle in itself!! – can we collect dream keys for this?). We decided that we just have to tell you about the highlights from each and every room of theirs to date- we can promise that there is something in there to suit everyone’s preferences!

Overall

In their own words…”Before the boom of escape rooms across the country, Cryptology opened in Nottingham city centre in July of 2015. It was conceived after playing mediocre escape games across the country and recognising a niche in being able to stand out.”

Cryptology currently has two branches open: their flagship in Nottingham, and one very conveniently in our hometown of Sheffield. They previously also had a branch in Barnsley, which is unfortunately now closed (think that’s more to do with Barnsley not exactly being a hub for escape rooms than anything else…), but LUCKILY we managed to pop over to Barnsley and play both the rooms which were on offer before it closed.

Mark and Simon, the owners of Cryptology, are just the kind of people you want to be creating escape rooms- enthusiastic, imaginative, creative and also practical. You can tell from their rooms and all the clever tech that they know what they’re doing! They are also a lot of fun (we have had some very funny moments in all the games they have run for us) and have a team around them that reflect their own values and enthusiasm for good escape rooms, meaning that the calibre of the experience is equally high every visit!

So onto the main attraction- the rooms!!!! We are going to break this down by location, and then the order in which we played the rooms.

Sheffield

Our first experience of Cryptology was in Sheffield when we got super excited to hear that a new escape room brand was just opening right in the middle of West Street! (5 mins walk from uni?! Incredible! Let’s get booked in IMMEDIATELY!!!!).  And boy are we pleased to have such a brilliant brand of escapes right on our doorstep!

First Contact

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The game that introduced us to Cryptology- and what a game it was! We played this with our friends and regular escape companions, Tasha and Rach, and all four of us LOVED it! There was simply so much to do! In this game, you are tasked with boarding the TRSS Caelus to find out what happened to the crew of the spaceship orbiting Mars whose communication has ceased…

What Cryptology does brilliantly is immersion, which you’ll soon see as a common theme from all of the games. In this case you really do leave Earth, truly feeling like you are on board a spaceship. The set, tech and lighting all contribute towards this, offering a vibe that fits somewhere between Dr Who and Red Dwarf! Of course this room is super high tech. It’s amazing how well the space is used, and how all the puzzles make sense with the theme and storyline, which of course is the best way to make a game totally immersive!

Now for our favourite aspect- the timer and clue system is so perfectly integrated into the room (part of the crew, part of the ship…. I know that’s a pirate ship reference rather than a spaceship reference, but it kinda works here…). The timer countdown is completely congruous and the clue system is so interactive, you can fully have a conversation with your game master through the ship’s computer, adding to the fun! When you reach a certain point in the mission, you are faced with a choice- this enables three different final puzzle sequences of varying difficulty. We’d recommend making your choice based on the time you have left on the clock, as this enables a satisfying ending for most teams to be able to complete the game at an appropriate difficulty level. We opted for the most challenging ending and, thankfully, managed to complete the full mission and make first contact (YAY!)

We thought this was such a good game to showcase the fun of an escape room that Ash even replayed it! She chose this as the room to take a group of escape newbie friends to when they came to visit! (Don’t worry, there was no cheating to snatch a new record time- Ash held back on solving anything, leaving that to her pals so they could get the full enjoyment and take the full time!) One of the great things about this room was the sheer volume to get done, as well as the decision making aspect leading to a multi-choice ending, meaning that Ash had a chance to focus on different puzzles than the first time around when she played!

The Mysterious Case of Hugh Dunnitt

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This was a room we were eagerly awaiting the opening of- after playing First Contact and gushing about how much we had enjoyed it, Simon told us about the plans for Sheffield’s second room, Hugh Dunnitt. So it was on our list before it had even been built, and we got in to play it within a few weeks of its opening! Suffice to say that it did not disappoint, and offered more of the brilliance we had become accustomed to from Cryptology’s rooms.

A murder mystery with a fabulous twist, this room offers a great mix of puzzle solving and ‘things to do’. The storyline is a big part of the room and unfolds as you progress through, so you know more at the end than the mystery you start off with.

This is a really fun room with the ‘things to do’ element of the room meaning everyone can get really stuck in and feel properly involved. The clue system, as with Cryptology’s other rooms, is interactive and funny, and perfectly designed to fit in with the room’s story and theme, making it a thoroughly immersive experience. Additionally, as you progress through the room the pressure ramps up to encourage you to get everything solved in time. This is cleverly done and Hugh Dunnitt is a really enjoyable and commendable room!

We managed to escape in time, and set the fastest escape time at the time (we know we played shortly after it’s grand opening so it may well have been beaten several times over by now!) 

Side note- we recommended this room to a couple of different escape newbie friends of ours in Sheffield and both groups managed to escape in time, thoroughly enjoyed their experience and already want to do more escape rooms, so success all round- and let the addiction commence!😉

Welcome to your Afterlife

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Afterlife is a room which was originally run by X-it games, based in Shipley, and we had been meaning to venture up there…then COVID happened of course, scuppering our plans! However, during the lockdowns Cryptology announced the exciting news that they would be opening Afterlife right here on our doorstep in Sheffield! Opportunity knocked, and of course what could we do but get ourselves booked in for as soon as we possibly could upon its opening?! (but you’ve just spent the past however many months being locked in and the first thing you want to post-lockdown is lock yourself in somewhere?! HELL (and purgatory and heaven) YES!) Our lovely friend and regular escaping companion, Tasha, kindly treated us to play Afterlife as a joint birthday present, and boy was it a great way to celebrate our birthdays!

As a mortal, to enter your afterlife, you must first die. How you die is your choice but all must enter through the void of transcendence. Only the brave will follow the light, crawl out of the grave and go to hell and back. Logical thinking and teamwork is what you need to ensure that when your hour is up your name is found in the Book of Life.

In Afterlife, a brilliant journey through purgatory, hell and then heaven has been created, and the set is completely immersive; through the amazing decor you are authentically transported to each setting; each being completely different in style, surroundings and the overall vibes.

Starting as it means to go on is a unique setup to throw you straight into the confusion that is the Afterlife. Led into the Afterlife by the Grim Reaper herself, and greeted by a creepy companion advising you of what has happened once locked into the otherworldly realms that come with death, you have to listen carefully in order to move on and find out what happens next…

Purgatory sets you up with a multi-faceted puzzle, combining elements from all around the room in order to successfully get ourselves out of purgatory. You have to combine riddles, logic, physical and mathematical puzzles in order to find the solutions needed to escape purgatory… just watch out for those red herrings(!)

Unfortunately, escaping purgatory leads you straight into the pits of hell! And the puzzles in this section seemed to almost be tailored to our own personal escape room hell- SEARCHING! However, we managed to overcome the puzzles in spite of our demons and successfully solved the spooky puzzles. We did end up brute forcing one part of a puzzle, through the process of elimination, when our searching skills failed us. But we got there which was a relief, since after hell comes heaven!

YES! But, before you can enter and sign your name in the Book of Life, it turns out you’ve been locked out of heaven and have to prove your worth by showing off your puzzling escape room skills! We did have a moment of hesitation here, unsure whether we were cut out to be angels when we couldn’t manage to unlock the pearly gates, but fortunately we figured it out and managed to get our hands on the coveted Book of Life, and proudly sign Escaping the Closet’s name where it belongs!

Afterlife was brilliantly atmospheric and a triumphant return to Cryptology Sheffield. We managed to successfully make it out with 25 mins to spare (Our lovely host, Robyn, told us that this was the record so far, which we were pretty chuffed with!) We’re pleased that we weren’t left to wander the Afterlife for all eternity…plenty more time for plenty more escapes YAY!!

Nottingham

Nottingham is only about an hour’s journey from where we live in Sheffield, and makes for a great day out as it’s filled with great food places (a big + for us, shout-out to the Pudding Pantry), and loads of escape room opportunities! It’s therefore one of our favourite go-to day trip spots! We’ve done all their rooms here, and had a blast every time.

Dreamscape

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After loving their Sheffield and Barnsley (😢) rooms, we decided to pay a visit to Cryptology Nottingham and were highly looking forward to seeing what they had to offer.

Our host, Sam, met us at the door, dressed suitably for a slumber…we were introduced to the game, told to expect a very fast-paced and frantic experience, especially with only two of us, to manage the mammoth task of collecting up to 20 dream keys across 5 dream rooms!!

The rooms were incredible – Dreamscape plays out like an escape room fan’s actual dream, with a huge volume of puzzles, all focussing on different strengths, and a great flow between each of the dreams! Each dream was so different from the previous and the types of puzzles in each room were SO cleverly tied into the feel of the dream you find yourself in. We spent most of the game working separately to try and tackle the volume of puzzles we were faced with – but we did come together a few times for some particularly tricky bits! We tried to separate according to our strengths (but in hindsight it was probably whoever got to the puzzle first! 😅). 

There are also some more overarching puzzles that come together for the end of the experience to make your final escape – we loved the finale and were really impressed with how Cryptology brought everything together for a cohesive and satisfying finish. Overall, a jam-packed experience, with no quiet moments and the most puzzles we have EVER seen! The theme itself and the gameplay was completely original and unique, we would highly recommend making the journey to play. Sam was also a lovely game master, who did a great job of making the experience immersive from start to finish!

We were also super pleased to get the fastest duo time of 52:20 and 15 dream keys! This was our first ever 5⭐️ rated room and Ash reckons this is her favourite room EVER! 😁

Cypherdyne v1.5

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You and your team have been selected to take part in a legendary Cypherdyne interview. A challenging and disarming hour-long interview that is rumoured to not just separate the wheat from the chaff but discard the chaff entirely. Unsure what to expect, the promise of a great job in this dire economy is enough for you to face whatever escape challenge the CEO has set for you. Your career may be unlocked and explode with opportunity!

A brilliant birthday present from Al to Ash was a Cryptology voucher and when the opportunity finally arose for us to be able to return to escaping, we booked in a mammoth escape-a-thon to play out the remaining Cryptology rooms we had; Cypherdyne, Rameseize and Daylight Robbery. We thought Daylight Robbery would be the showstopper so saved that for last, and dove straight in with Cypherdyne v1.5. After all, what would you rather be doing on a day off from work than a job interview?!

Cypherdyne’s interview felt like what those ‘think outside the box’ questions Oxbridge candidates get challenged with in their interview processes… there was no obvious interview task, that was for us as the candidates to figure out as part of the process. We had to crack security codes, find hidden doorways and mess with the computer hardwiring to stand a chance of being hired by Cypherdyne.Thankfully we had our heads screwed on and managed this all!

Although the room starts off appearing rather innocuous, there are the usual high-tech touches  that Mark and Simon are so great at including in their rooms, which enable their puzzles to stand out from other escape rooms we’ve played. Although this is not our favourite Cryptology room, it is still commendable and well worth playing when you pay Cryptology a visit! Overall we’d give Cypherdyne v1.5 a 3.5/5 rating.

Rameseize

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Next up in our Cryptology-a-thon was Rameseize, which we want to give an award to for the best name for an Egyptian themed room! As you may expect, with this room you are tasked with ransacking Rameses’ tomb to ‘seize’ three ancient relics before your rival treasure hunters catch you up and bury you alive in the tomb to claim the treasure for themselves. As usual, no pressure then hey!

Rameseize has a great variety of puzzles that are all completely in keeping with the Egpytian theme, and the immersion is top notch as always thanks to Cryptology’s high standards of decoration for their games.

There were some very cool and clever elements to this room! We were given a number of items at the start of the game to help us with the challenges ahead and liked how important these were to get us going, and keep coming back to throughout the game. Communication was key in this room, in particular for a puzzle near the end of the tomb heist! Playing as just a pair, we were very grateful of how well we work together in these kinds of situations as we needed to be on our game- Rameseize is the sort of room that can be played by large group sizes due to the size and volume of puzzles to get through in the time.

We enjoyed the challenge and liked how the tech used in this room worked to make the space feel like a booby-trapped tomb this time- even though it was very clever modern-day tech, it made us feel transported to a cursed tomb! A really fun game and although Egypt is a common escape room theme, it feels really fresh in Rameseize, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy it no matter how many other Egyptian escape rooms you’ve previously played (plus you get to carry round a very cool staff!)

Daylight Robbery

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Onto the final Cryptology Nottingham room in existence (we are waiting for the scary room that we hope is to come…!), and our second heist of the day. This time, it wasn’t a cursed pyramid, but a high-security bank.

Cryptology are always great at creating a really immersive, authentic space for their rooms, but Daylight Robbery is SOMETHING ELSE! The Nottingham Cryptology HQ is in an old bank and so the brilliance of Daylight Robbery is that this bank heist takes place in an ACTUAL BANK VAULT.

Similar to Dreamscape, Daylight Robbery is a room which can cater to teams of all sizes and abilities as this is another ‘collect as much as you can’ challenge! Only this time it’s not dream keys we’re after, but as much valuable swag stowed away in the bank as possible! You can keep track of how much you have managed to get your hands on throughout the game by scanning each item before bagging it up for a quick getaway, to keep a running total value.

But before you can start nabbing other people’s valuable possessions, you have to infiltrate the bank to reach the vault. This involves a series of puzzles before negotiating the classic laser trigger alarm system- one of the most fun sections to encounter in any room and make you feel like you’re in your favourite spy film (or St Trinian’s- we won’t judge if this is your fave film using laser alarms!).

Again, as just a pair, in a room that can cater to large group sizes, we had our work cut out for us, and although we feel we made a valiant effort, there were some internal vaults we didn’t even manage to get into- testament to just how vast this game really is! The separate vaults were all thematically grouped so there was an opportunity for everyone to be able to puzzle to their strengths! These included music, logic, maths, spatial awareness, searching, physical puzzles, using technology and much more, and often the swag itself was a clue to help solve a puzzle! There was simply so much to do that even the most experienced, full-sized, team is not likely to manage to take home the FULL jackpot!

We managed to retrieve over ¾ of a million pounds, so we feel that although we aren’t the best robbers in the bank, we could make a reputable name for ourselves… then again ‘Robbing the Closet’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as ‘Escaping the Closet’, so maybe we’ll stick to our day job (we WISH escaping was our full-time day job! We can dream….!)

Mark was our host for Daylight Robbery and once we’d completed the game, he did a brilliant debrief with us, showing us how we could’ve accessed the vaults we didn’t make it into and the puzzles within this, and even showing us a really well-hidden easter egg in the room! If anyone has played Daylight Robbery and successfully found this themselves during their gameplay we would love to hear from you! He also told us about the potential plans for a future room which we are INCREDIBLY excited about and can’t wait for news on this development!

Barnsley (branch now closed)

Although the Barnsley branch is now closed and so it’s no longer possible to play these rooms, we couldn’t leave them out as both were brilliant and deserve the recognition too!

HMS Cypher

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We played this one knowing the Cryptology brand having played a few already and therefore expecting good things! We took a group of friends to join us for this one, and we were all kept really busy on board HMS Cypher!

HMS Cypher, takes you on board a WW2 battleship, and as always, you get fully immersed, feeling as if you are on deck of the ship from both the setting and the puzzles. In terms of the puzzles, think morse code, maps, co-ordinates and walkie talkies, everything makes sense that it is there. You know that you are deciphering messages being sent to the ship, following instructions to set the right course for the ship, all to keep everything ship shape.

We really enjoyed this game and while it isn’t one of their showstopper rooms, it was a lot of fun and really demonstrates the solidly good rooms we have come to expect from their brand. We’d give HMS Cypher a solid 3.5/5 and we were very sad to see it close!

Insanctuary

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Last but by no means least is Insanctuary. Although Insanctuary no longer exists, we hold it very fondly in our memories as it was such a brilliant game. In Insanctuary, you were tasked with exploring an abandoned facility to try to find out what has happened to everyone. This was a creepy theme and it was executed brilliantly; the decor was really creepy and effective, black gunk creeping through the cracks in the walls, giving the room IMMENSE Stranger Things vibes. This set Al and our teammate Rach on edge, leaving Ash to be the brave one- always the first to be pushed into a room in case anything scary jumped out at us (it didn’t!).

You had to piece the various clues together, get into all of the patients’ abandoned rooms and log into the corrupt scientists’ computer system to find out just what was going on! Turns out there was a rift between different worlds and the disappeared people had ended up being sucked into the other world. So, like no big deal… But seriously, this final room was spectacular- the decoration was so effective in creating an otherworldly sci-fi/horror vibe and although this room was not scary, it felt like the kind of room that could easily have been made terrifying if that was the intention!

We had a great time playing Insanctuary, and hope that Simon had fun hosting us; we had a lot of banter with him through the room’s clue system (which certainly gave some comic relief to scaredy cat Rach to help her through the game!). At one point, UV lighting was used and it highlighted some shoe graffiti Alice had lovingly added to Ash’s SHOES in UV security pen without her knowing! In the most escape room-y way possible, the hidden message of ‘I <3 escape rooms’ was written boldly on Ash’s trainers so Simon got to see the extent of our escape room addiction! Definitely lost any remaining street cred at that point…but we saved the world from the otherworldly portal rift, so who are the real winners, hey!

We loved this room and were very sad to hear that the Barnsley branch had closed and with it, Insanctuary! It truly is a shame that no more teams get the opportunity to play it! But it really is a commendable room and one that we will always remember fondly!

So, that’s it- all of the Cryptology rooms on offer (and then some). We have loved all of our experiences playing Cryptology’s games and we hope to see lots more of the same clever, immersive, high-tech, story driven games from them in future! We will be first in line for any and every new game they bring out, because they are one of the most reliably good brands we know! 

So what are you waiting for? Get booking your very own Crypt-athon, you won’t regret it!

You can find out more and book to play Cryptology’s games

Creative Events: The BIG Escape (Virtual) | Review

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Join Dan Rooney and his team of criminal masterminds and help them pull off the Heist of the Century. When you meet Dan’s team of experts, they will help you gain access to the casino. You will meet: Jack Potts, your man on the inside; Wheels, your getaway driver, and plenty of safe crackers and hackers along the way. Once you blow open the safe you will have 15 minutes to escape with the loot.

Ratings

Theming: 3/5

Puzzles: 3/5

Online interface: 5/5

Fun Factor: 5/5

Difficulty: 3/5

Overall: 3.5/5 ⭐⭐⭐

The Review

The UK Escape Room Enthusiasts Facebook page is an excellent source of fan reviews, shout outs to great rooms and often companies will post looking for testers for new experiences. One post caught our eye: a new online ‘Escape Experience’ that was looking for groups to sign up to a test play, taking place via Zoom. Always keen for a new challenge, we signed ourselves up and looked forward to an evening of puzzling! 

Editor’s Note: This means the version of the game we played was not the final, but given how flawless it ran, we’re confident the final experience will be as brilliant as ours.

The set up began with an introduction from Caroline, telling us a bit about The Big Escape (and their parent company Creative Events) and the experience we were about to take part in. We were then sectioned off into breakout groups in Zoom to race against the clock, and each other, to see who could pull off the grand heist, and avoid the wrath of Big Al (an amusing name for us). We were introduced to a range of savvy criminals who wanted in on our heisting, but we soon learnt they wouldn’t help us without putting us through our paces first. 

The Platform

The game platform was really interesting, as users are directed to meet up with a series of characters in a linear format. You have to meet with the characters in a particular order, and once you ‘solve’ one character’s set of puzzles, and receive their ‘item’, you unlock the next character! We enjoyed this, it’s always nice to see how far you have gone and how far you still have to go. The puzzles were solid, and they were always on brand to the character you were currently visiting. Our favourite was named Wheels (the getaway driver!) who wanted you to point out his car parking space… We only experienced one hitch with the platform, and considering this was a testing event, we were really impressed at how smoothly it all ran. 

The Puzzles

The puzzles themselves were a range of things we have all come across before, but they were delivered with fun and in theme. There was one particular puzzle however that really had us stumped (I am still tempted to go back in to try and solve it – it’s hard to accept defeat on these things!). As the events are geared towards corporate team building sessions, Creative Events have done a great top of pitching the difficulty. Non-enthusiasts would be able to gain the satisfaction of puzzle solving and enjoying navigating through the storyline, whilst puzzle fanatics will enjoy seeing how quickly you can solve under the pressure of Big Al and how many points you can tot up! We would recommend this experience for families who have some puzzling pioneers and some newbies alike – it would be a good introductory event.

Overall

One of our fave features was the leader board, which we couldn’t help repeatedly checking of course. This would really add an element of interaction to a virtual company event, if you were playing against colleagues – being able to sneak a glance at where your boss is would be a lot of fun! The variety of puzzles on offer would mean that in bigger groups, people could play to their personal strengths (Note: Speaking from experience ours is NOT anything to do with time or dates…or pyramids).  

Overall, this was a really fun evening! It feels like Creative Events have created a unique and fun experience, catered perfectly for their intended audience. If you want to have a crack at Big Al, we would definitely recommend it, just make sure you’ve got your wheels 😉 

The Big Escape Virtual can be booked by corporate teams only by enquiring on their website here.

Escape London: Casino Heist – Break the Rules | Review

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A new underground casino has recently been discovered. We have successfully disabled the security cameras for one hour. Your mission? Steal as much as you can, use the hidden tools within to assist you but wager your time wisely and escape before security shows. Will money be rolling your way? or will greed consume you first? What’s a challenge without a little risk…?

Rating: Brilliant!
Completion Time: 55 minutes
Date Played: 22nd May 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: People who want to run out of a room with wads of cash in their arms

Here it is, everyone: The long awaited first escape since lockdown!!

*distant fireworks and fanfare sounding*

I have to admit I was super nervous going into Casino Heist in case I’d forgotten how to escape! But the moment you’re inside a room and the door closes behind you it all just comes flooding back and clicks into place. “Right, everyone start pushing buttons and opening drawers! Go go go!

I also played this with a brand new team of amazing people I’d never met before and it was wonderful to just click with a group of people and ace a room together so quickly. We’re already looking at booking another together!

Quick Note

While I was writing this review I realised that the version of Casino Heist I played is “Casino Heist – Break the Rules” which is, I believe, different from both the previous room at the Shepherd’s Bush location of the same name “Casino Heist” and the similarly named rooms across the UK. I did reach out to Escape London to check, but unfortunately they didn’t comment! However messages from a few friends who have played the regular “Casino Heist” confirmed it is ineed a different game. If you’re unsure, I’d definitely recommend phoning them before making a booking!

The Story

Simple setup, simple premise: Break into a secret, underground casino and steal as much cash as you can within an hour! And I’m talking real hard cash… Oh how wonderful it is to be holding so many stacks of £50s you can barely carry them out the room!

With the security cameras disabled, you truly are on the clock with this one. You have exactly one hour before the police are called to the venue so your job is twofold:

  1. Steal as much money as you can from the vault in the casino
  2. Escape from the room before the time limit is up

The unique twist about this room is that you can ‘win’ without solving all the puzzles available to you. In fact, you can more or less skip the entire last portion of the room and escape with £0 if you’re running short on time. But, I’m getting ahead of myself!

The Rooms

The first noteworthy thing about Casino Heist is the fact it’s a 3-room escape room, which I absolutely love. Escape London do this really well with hidden extra spaces and doors. These three rooms take you through a very logical and progressive flow in the casino environment.

First, you arrive at a rather regular looking bar, complete with bottles of alcohol, an adorable jukebox, and pretty much everything you’d expect from a bar. But, like all good speakeasies, it’s hiding a hidden illicit casino behind it… If only you know how to break in! Your first task is to figure out a way into the casino itself. The first room is a little cramped and I’d be surprised if 6 people could fit in – but it took us no time to ‘escape’.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll enter the casino room. This room was brilliantly themed! There are several casino machines, dominoes, even a roulette table. At first I was a little nervous I didn’t know the rules of poker, but it turns out I didn’t need to in order to solve this room. No expense spared when it comes to looking like an actual underground casino parlour – I love it! But there’s not much time to stop and savour the decor as there’s work to be done if you’re going to break into the hidden safe room.

This brings me to the final ‘room’ in the series which is, as expected, the safe room. Here’s where the cash is stored. This room by comparison is quite sparse and everything you’ll find plays an important role. By this point in the game, the time is ticking and you’ve got to quickly find a way to crack the codes on a number of safes in order to get that sweet sweet cash.

ino Heist Escape

The Puzzles

All the puzzles in Casino Heist can be broken down into “Break into a room” puzzles or “Break into a safe” puzzles, and they both had a very distinct vibe to them. In the first half of the game, you’re breaking into places by using what is around you. Players can expect a huge range of puzzles in a more or less non-linear format that would be great for a team of around 4 to keep busy with.

The types of puzzles included plenty of searching around in drawers, underneath things and behind things, some maths puzzles, sliding puzzles, more than one ‘physical’ puzzle requiring a steady hand, and several instances objects needed to be combined! Essentially – everything you’d expect in an escape room (and everything I missed in lockdown!). In particular, one of my favourite puzzles involved the jukebox right at the start – but what can I say, I love music!

*hums rolling stones*

Towards the end of the game, the style of puzzles changes slightly. This time you’re looking for 4 – 6 digit codes to unlock safes! This was where our powers of observation were tested – were we paying attention to a detail in the first room? Noooooo I was not! So there’s a bit of running back and forth! *huff huff huff*

We played as a team of 4 and as I say I think this is the perfect number to play with. We were all busy and there was no crowding around waiting for someone to solve a puzzle. This room encourages pure collaboration!

Overall

We whizzed through room 1 relatively quickly, stalled a bit in room 2, and spend the majority of our time collecting ALL THE MONEY in room 3. Us, leave with less than 100%?! Not a chance!

At one point we asked for a single clue on one tiny puzzle that we couldn’t quite crack at the end. The clues are delivered via a walkie-talkie and the GM was quick to help us out and remind us how long we had left to finish. Overall, we escaped at around the 55th minute – woop woop! Not quite the epic escape this team might have achieved, but I’m glad we spent the extra time collecting as much money as possible.

It was also, on a personal note, really nice to make a new friend. This was my first time playing with a brand new team consisting including Georgiana, who runs Discomlogicated. If you’re looking for a great room to take a first time team, you could do a lot worse than Casino Heist.

Casino Heist- Break the Rules can be booked at Escape London (Shadwell) for £24 – £34 pp on their website here.

Experios: Ben’s Big Heist | Review

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For many years Ben has been working as an underpaid cleaner at a small bank. He needs the help of you and your team to finally take his well-deserved money.

Rating: Enjoyable!
Completion Time: 49:38 (with $6,089,000.00)
Date Played: 5th April 2021
Party Size: 4
Recommended For: Aspiring Bank Robbers (I’m kidding, don’t do that). All audiences.

It’s week three in my Escape Game Olympics journey, and up this week was Ben’s Big Heist!

The Story

Ben’s Big Heist is a fairly classic ‘bank heist’ themed online escape game – I’ve actually got a whole category for ‘heist’ themed games here on The Escape Roomer that’s slowly filling up and if you like the genre, you’ll enjoy this one too! It’s got everything you want: blueprints, remote hacking, vaults.

The story of this heist follows the disgruntled and underpaid employee titular character Ben as he plans an epic heist to kick back at his employers and take what he feels is rightfully his. I mean, I do pause at the phrase “small bank” – you probably shouldn’t be robbing small businesses, but hey a bank is a bank. *shouts something anti-capitalist*

The Experience

From here, you’re acting as the eyes in the sky with Ben as boots on the ground. As each stage, Ben progresses through areas in the building and you must assist him at each step – sometimes with a passcode, sometimes by hacking into a computer, sometimes by scouring the map and figuring out the best way to progress.

There’s two things in this game I found pretty cool:

First, the element of multiple choice! At a few key junctures you can choose to do one thing over another and this changes the outcome of the game. Some choices may lead to harder puzzles but a larger pay-off, and others may give you a faster exit out the bank and thus a better time score.

The second cool thing about this game is it’s scoring system. You’re not just judged on time. In fact, I’d argue that time isn’t even the most important thing here (well, okay I’m doing this as part of the Escape Game Olympics and I care a LOT about time). What you’re really trying to do is steal the most money, and this is where the ‘multiple choice’ becomes important. Do you go for the more valuable vault that’s harder to crack at the risk of remaining too long and being arrested? Choices! Choices!

The Puzzles

The puzzles weren’t wholly tricky but it was hard to get the answer right. What I mean is there’s some subjectivity which felt a little iffy here. I can’t specifically explain without giving away a spoiler for a puzzle, so I’ll give a simpler example. Let’s say the password is “diaper” but here in the UK we say “nappy”. At one juncture, we put the word we knew for an item in and *bzzt* incorrect. So we tried 6 different options (and took penalties for each) before going back to our correct answer and realising they were just looking for us to type “diaper”.

This popped up twice in the game, so it’s a small piece of advice I’d give to prospective players looking to give this one a go. Otherwise, the puzzles were fairly straightforward – a couple of maths puzzles, a couple of sorting, a few search and find, and plenty of looking at the map.

Overall

In the end, we finished with a very respectable time – not enough to crown us champions of anything any time soon, but it was a good fun little game to play on a bank holiday Monday afternoon with team Escaping the Closet!

Ben’s Big Heist can be played for $45 AUD per team by booking it on Virtual Escape’s website here.

Ready Escape Games: Escape the Vault

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Hidden inside Presuming Ed’s Coffee House, is one of Brighton’s oldest bank vaults. Break into the vault of world renowned arms dealer, Charles Fawkley.

Rating: Charming!
Completion Time: 30 minutes
Date Played: 22nd August 2020
Party Size: 4

Tucked away in a wonderful little cafe in the centre of Brighton, you’ll find one of the city’s oldest bank vaults. Breaking into it? Well I don’t mind if I do! Enter: Escape the Vault. Escape the Vault is an absolutely charming , built-with-love 40 minute escape room. Well … Is it an escape room? Your actual goal is to break INTO the vault, and escape with the codes to renown bad man Charles Fawkley’s bank account. Who doesn’t love a good baddy?

This experience is utterly brilliant from start to finish. The very moment you turn the corner and see the cafe that now sits on the spot Presuming Ed, you know you’re in for something exciting. It’s a quirky coffee house decked out from head to toe in paintings, refurbished arcade machines as tables, and serves some of the most delicious coffee I’ve drunk this year. There’s a VR Room upstairs, a bar at night, and food all day long. I think I … Love it? Most of my reviews don’t focus on the venue itself, but this one deserves an extra special mention!

On arrival, you’re off to the vault … A very quick briefing and you’re off! There’s no time to waste – after all this a ROBBERY! To help, you have a ‘man on the outside’: Terrence. He’s waiting outside in a getaway car and he’s going to be your eyes and ears for the operation. In a rather realistic fashion, this is your clue system – stuck, and you text Terrence. The best part? It’s completely automated. Terrence is a (rather clever) automated bot that will interact with you and even send you videos throughout the experience to add to the immersivity.

You, the bank robbers, get to wear very cool bandannas throughout your heist … I mean, you wouldn’t want your face caught on camera, would you? Pre-lockdown, teams would be encouraged to wear balaclavas (there’s a few very cool looking photos on the walls of other teams in those!); post-lockdown, in an effort to be as safe as possible, single use bandannas are given instead. Latex gloves are also required but again – I love it! There’s no chance of leaving a fingerprint behind oh and it makes you, the player, feel very comfortable in the room.

In terms of gameplay, this one is a mix of being linear and non-linear. The biggest difference between this escape room and others is the initial part of needing to ‘break in’. I’ll embarrassingly admit we had a VERY late start due to failing at the first hurdle of even breaking into the vault. But once we finally cracked it, the rest of the game just flew by.

The room itself is heavy on locks – whether number locks or ones with a key, they’ve all got very ingenious ways of finding those numbers. It makes a lot of sense for a bank heist and fits in wonderfully with the setting!

Finally, I wanted to round off this room by talking about the company more. Not only was it honestly just such a fun experience, it’s also vastly the cheapest escape room on the market I’ve experienced. Whats more, £1 from your ticket price goes towards a charity of your choice which is very important. For that reason I’m putting this escape room up there in my favourites list. Yep that’s right, it’s a 5 star from me because some experiences deserve to be shouted about from the highest rooftops!

If you’re a fan of Escape the Vault, there’s also some good news around the corner. The brilliant team behind Escape the Vault have a brand new game coming very soon which we were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of! I won’t spoil the theme, or even the name of it just yet (you’ll have to go subscribe to Escape the Vault’s newsletter!), but just know we CANNOT WAIT!

Escape the Vault is located in Brighton, UK and can be played for £12.50 per person by booking on the Escape the Vault website.