#26: Red House Mysteries – The Heist

★★★☆☆

LocationExeter
TeamRhubarb Rhubarb
Date3 March 2019
Hints taken1
Time42 minutes
URLRed House Mysteries

Front & Briefing

We were greeted at Red House Mysteries’ reception by the only staff member there, our GM, who was enthusiastic and who introduced us to the game.

We could hear people playing Red House Mysteries’ other game (the Shadow Darkens) through the wall. They seemed to be having fun, but I tried to tune out the noise to avoid spoilers should we play it later.As we were told during the briefing, The Heist is a game of two halves. Teams have half an hour in the room to “plan” their heist of a museum artifact, then between 20 and 30 minutes to execute the robbery, depending on how well they’d done in the planning phase.

Theme

While the idea of planning a heist sounded quite daunting, the room guided us through the objectives in quite a smart way, and without breaking immersion. The planning room and the museum area both felt fairly authentic, and while one piece of furniture was on its last legs, the theme rather saved it in that regard. Some of the props were assembled in ways that made it a little difficult to tell if attempting to open/disassemble them was part of the game or not.

The room made good use of the fairly limited space available to the point where it felt pretty inventive, and played into the theme well.

Puzzles

I liked the variety of puzzles in the room. There was a nice mix of low tech padlocks and higher tech puzzles using some nice bits of off-the-shelf hardware used in creative ways. The first half was notably stronger, though with several red herrings. The second half of the game was a little too linear for my taste.

Hint system

A walkie-talkie is provided to talk to the GM. Hints are provided on request and only on request, which I personally appreciate. When we asked for a clue the GM seemed a little unaware of what point we were at. The GM was shared between the venue’s two escape rooms which, while not being a problem for us in this run-through, I’ve found can be problematic in other rooms, and indeed would have been a problem if we’d radioed for a clue wile the GM was occupied with the other room’s team. The CCTV for both rooms was simply at the reception desk, and there was no sound coming from the monitors while we were being briefed, which might explain why the GM needed to have our situation explained to her when we radioed in.

Finale

It’s fairly clear what you’re heading towards throughout the second half of the room, but the room found a way to keep it exciting even when we were comfortable for time.

Debriefing

We finished in 42 minutes (the first half in about 25) and despite the staggered start, found the team we’d heard playing earlier being debriefed in the lobby. As such, we had to hang around in the escape room itself until that team had left (lest we be spoiled) and the GM became available again. I get the impression most teams take a little longer in the second half of the game, though our team of three people seemed adequate for it and I would worry that the maximum team size of 6 would have a lot of people tripping over each other or being unable to participate as the room was not that parallelised.

Once we were back in the foyer, it was time for the group photo, which ends up on Facebook and Instagram, and there’s some costumes available for this if that takes your fancy…

Final thoughts

A well thought-out room with some clever puzzles and a nicely structured theme, leading to a fun finish. If you find yourself needing to calm down afterwards, there’s even a yoga studio on the floor below!

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