Riga, Jul 2017
The second of four (!) heist games we played in Riga, Jewelry Theft (or Jewelry Thieft, as their website currently calls it) has you breaking into a high-end jewelry shop to swipe the Fabergé egg hidden somewhere inside. Fortunately a friendly cleaning lady is working with you and has prepared the ground by leaving some helpful items for you to find.
When reviewing escape rooms there’s always a fine line to walk between giving enough information to give an accurate impression of the game on one hand, and straying into spoiler territory on the other. With Jewelry Theft that line is even trickier to walk than usual. But it’s safe enough to say that the first task is to break into the shop, and that the game moves through a number of very distinct phases, each with a different style. The variety, and the excellent decor throughout, was a great strength of the game.
An early puzzle actually struck me as illogical – or rather, it used escape room logic in a way that really didn’t stand up to inspection. Still, it was fair enough and it probably only stuck out to me because we took a clue for it. A vote of confidence here for the MyEscape operators here, incidentally – at several of the Riga venues we had issues with hints being given poorly, sometimes due to language issues and sometimes due to gamemaster inattention, but MyEscape were one of the exceptions, with reassuringly competent hosting.
A central section of the game involves a tough skill puzzle, with a nicely novel twist. This became a source of frustration for both our teams due to a non-obvious twist that meant we’d suddenly fail for no apparent reason and have to restart. With my team we eventually realised what was going on and were then able to get through it; our other team found it more frustrating. It’s a really nice section of game that could really do with a little more signposting on how it works.
One other point required knowledge that some teams will not have, and was in any case an escape room trope that was somewhat out of place for the game (though quite satisfying if you know how to solve it). The standard of puzzles was good but not stellar; what was stellar was the staging, with great presentation throughout. It’s a game with a strong visual narrative, where most of the content fits into that narrative and moves it forwards. We finished in not much over half an hour despite losing lots of time on the big skill puzzle, so it could do with more content; but what there is fits together very well, and builds up to a fun dramatic finish.