Riga, Jul 2017
The Bank Job starts in darkness, and I was pleased to be supplied with not just the usual hand-held torches but also lens-less glasses with mini torches built into the frame, which both make the darkness less annoying and had a nice elite cat burglar feel. First task is to get the power on, which brings up the lights for the rest of the game.
Over a third of the games we played in Riga were heist-themed, and this was actually the one with the least dynamic, story-driven design. That’s comparing it to a high bar though, since we were playing some of the highest rated games in the city, and The Bank Job has a narrative progression with several puzzles designed as part of the story, and good use of audio to create energy and atmosphere.
Other parts of the game have little connection to the story, but were fun and imaginative, so I didn’t mind. One in particular broke escape room convention in a small way, but was well worth it for the satisfyingly neat payoff.
Many games have extra rooms that you unlock or discover during the game. Avoiding spoilers, the Bank Job has a more open plan design where you can see areas but not immediately access them, and I rather liked the resulting effect, with a satisfying payoff when you finally get into something that’s been tantalisingly out of reach.
It’s high quality without being stunning, with some inventive puzzle ideas making up for a few minor weak points (such as an element where the obvious first thing to try then makes the correct approach needlessly difficult, which a minor implementation tweak would resolve). Far and away the best thing about the game is the way it ends, with a large multi-step puzzle that’s spot-on for the theme and gives it a spectacular finish.
It seems there are rather a lot of theft based games in Riga. In this instance, the task is to rob a bank.
With the exception of the first puzzle which I found slightly weak (the speed of solving in large part down to luck), there was a wonderful variety of different mechanisms, one of which was particularly unusual and pleasing to watch the result; however in doing so they let go of a large amount of fidelity to a true robbery, so it felt more like a decorated puzzle room than a bank.
That said, my group really loved the final puzzle and ending to the room, and overall the room is well worth doing. The operators were more attentive (and spoke better English) than some of the other venues in Riga and it made a big difference.