Online, May 2020
Playing an escape game from home requires a little extra suspension of disbelief, when players are sitting in a familiar living room not a simulated bank vault. Some games deal with that by saying the players are ‘remote support’ or some such; The Bank Job takes the opposite approach by providing a series of puzzles based around the different stages of the heist, from planning through to getaway.
The technology platform here is absolutely back to basics, with the game implemented as a series of pages in Google Forms. Input validation prevents you from continuing to the next puzzle until you’ve entered the correct answer.
I’ve recently played a lot of online games that use a similar design, with a linear series of puzzles each presented mainly with images and/or text, where the solution to one unlocks the next. It’s a straightforward but serviceable structure, and although I was initially concerned that The Bank Job would struggle to stand out from some of the free alternative games out there, it did so in quantity and quality of content.
At the start of the game you’re provided with a link for hints should you need them, and we needed to resort to them a couple of times. What I realised only later is that on some puzzles, the validation message that appears when you enter a wrong answer also provides a hint – one early puzzle seemed to me very tricky to get anywhere with until you get a nudge from this.
I find the linear format does less for me than some of the other online games I’ve played, perhaps because it feels (even) less physical and as much like a solo set of puzzles as a team game. But it’s still a substantial and enjoyable series of puzzles which effectively ties together into a bank heist story.