ROGUE PRODUCTIONS - The Perfect Crime (The Concert)
What's better than breaking out of a room? Breaking into one! Whilst the pandemic has limited the number of physical rooms we've been able to do, it's given game designers the time to come up with some fantastic ideas. Heist games have always been a favourite of mine, so designing an experience where not only do you need to escape with a painting, but you have to work out how to get into the room in the first place sounded too good to pass up...
Pros: Immersion, Experience, Ingenuity, Excitement
Cons: Quality/quantity of puzzles
You are tasked with breaking into a secure unit which stores valuables, but unfortunately the only way into this secure unit is via the guard's office (ironic, right?). Naturally, there were many treasures and security measures in place as we traversed the rooms to reach our ultimate goal.
Hopefully it isn't giving away too much to say this is a multi-room experience, which each room bringing its own challenges. They were perfectly decorated with set dressings that made sense without being distracting. There was one 'main' obstacle within each room to contend with (themed appropriately), creating an added complication when it came to solving the puzzles. These were the best part of the room, as we were immediately thrown into the guise of art thieves, reliant on our ingenuity and what blueprints we were able to find.
The majority of the gameplay revolves around trying to get into the room itself, whilst remaining undetected. All the standard 'heist' tropes you expect are found in this room, which I loved. It truly is an experience - none of these were as simple as a 10 second thrill, but rather an ongoing aspect to consider and avoid. A large majority of the puzzles relied on observation and creative thinking, which a few offering multiple solution methods.
I haven't yet mentioned the 'live actor' aspect of the experience. Whilst I usually shy away from rooms featuring live actors, for fear of 'cringe' or very linear rooms (reliant on the actor in question seeing you do something), this room would not have been as good without the actor. Sure, you can ransack the guard's office, but make sure you have somewhere to hide when they return! Of course, if you're worried about the time aspect you need to make sure nothing is amiss in the room (such as a rogue door you've left unlocked), else you may arouse suspicion and need to wait for them to further inspect the room before once more leaving. Of course, being caught wouldn't be the end of the world (or the game) as long as you have a strong enough cover story. Helpfully placed props within the room could give you enough of an idea, but having charismatic teammates is vital too! This was especially important for the final stage, which I won't go into too much except to say I probably had more fun as the silent participant! I particularly enjoyed this interaction aspect as it felt realistic (or as realistic as an experience like this could be)! That added human element also gave us that added rush (especially as there wasn't a time element per se). The one small negative critique I would have for this is that it did feel a bit like (time) padding.
The puzzles themselves were pretty sparse. As mentioned, they mainly relied on observation, but ultimately there were only 8 puzzles throughout the experience, which perhaps was a little light on the ground for a team of 6 experienced players. There was nothing frustrating (which was good), but then there also was nothing that particularly sparked joy either.
When it came to clues we had help from an inside agent via walkie talkie. Usually this would be an instant 'no' from me, but it perfectly suited the theme of the room. In fact, whilst writing this I realise just how immersive the room was - no monitors giving away our time, nor obvious cameras or 'do not touch' stickers. Our 'inside man' (who sounded suspiciously similar to the patrolling guard) was clearly very skilled at her job, as she was able to nudge us in the right direction (whilst sticking to the narrative), but also held back on the one occasion we asked for help but didn't need it ('nah I think you're probably doing what you should').
This room isn't accessible for those with mobile needs - the venue is up a couple of steps, and right from the start you need to be able to crawl, hide and even jump. You need to be fine in confined, dark spaces (which were quite warm given the 30º day we were experiencing), although there wasn't anything scary.
There was one puzzle that required some hearing ability (although fortunately not musical), as well as the walkie talkie for hints. There were no requirements for colour vision.
The majority of the rooms were lit well enough to clearly read everything, with no annoying soundtracks. The spaces were large enough to not feel on top of each other (apart from when we were required to hide), but if you are not a fan of enclosed spaces you could find one of the larger hiding places, or become very confident with the cover stories!
Outside the room
Unfortunately we had one of those mornings where everything went wrong - our local tube was closed, our first 'taxi' decided that he didn't fancy taking us to central London, our second cancelled after 10 minutes, so it took us another 20 minutes we finally got a third. This meant we missed the briefing, which I'm sure was great, but fortunately they held off starting until we arrived (15 minutes late), which I was very grateful for. There were lockers to store our valuables in, and a bar attached for refreshments after the game (which we heartily accepted, outside in the sunshine). The staff were fantastic - all very friendly and in character.
Was it worth the money?
We paid £10pp as these were 'preview' tickets, and I can whole-heartedly say it was worth this. Tickets now are £20-£30pp, and I think it's definitely worth it provide you know what to expect - the experience is great, but you will feel short changed if you are expecting escape-room level puzzles (in quality or quantity), particularly for a larger group.