#28: ARoom (Budapest) – Bank Robbery

A well-themed game with good production values and a fun physical puzzle in the middle for one person, tapering out a little afterwards.

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Location:Budapest
Team:Rhubarb Rhubarb
Date:23 March 2019
Hints taken:2 out of a maximum of 5
Time:56m46s
URL:ARoom

Front & Briefing

ARoom, an offshoot of Locked Room (also based in Budapest), is in a more central location than its parent, in a lovely enclosed residential courtyard. After being buzzed in, the reception area features a TV monitor and a lot of bench seating; this is where multiple teams can be shown the general-purpose instructional video. The only thing of note apart from the usual in the video is that Locked Room/ARoom only allow five hints per game!

A short walk back outside (within the courtyard) to a front door containing our first escape room of the holiday. Inside, the GM showed us the button on the wall to use to request a hint and pointed out any parts of the room that aren’t part of the game. After that the GM leaves and, as with most of ARoom/Locked Room’s offerings, a TV screen reels off a mission briefing before showing the countdown clock.

Theme

Your team is aiming to rob a bank, starting from inside the pub next door. Both areas were well themed and authentic-feeling, and didn’t disappoint on what the website was selling for this experience. One section in particular felt like you were acting out part of a film, though it was a pity that only one member of the team got to properly experience this.

Puzzles

Some quite inventive low-tech puzzles as well as one particularly high tech physical puzzle (the one above). At one point we had to ask for a hint to check that failing one puzzle wasn’t going to fail the room, as it wasn’t entirely clear what would happen if we got it wrong (another puzzle would have kicked in). The game was quite linear though with three people this didn’t cause us much trouble as there was usually something to do or find; however one thing to bear in mind is that a certain competence in mental arithmetic is assumed for parts of this room and, with no paper supplied, I had to rely on other members of the team who were more up to it.

Hint system

Hints on request via a buzzer near the entrance, and communicated via the loudspeaker in the room. The limit of 5 hints added an interesting extra dimension to asking for hints – we usually use hints frugally anyway but this really made us consider what we wanted a hand with. I wasn’t keen on this, and I suspect it was established so that a shared GM wasn’t overwhelmed by a talkative team.

Finale

The highlight of the game for me was actually mid-way through; if it weren’t for the single-person nature of that bit I might have suggested moving it to the end of the game. The more aggravating puzzles actually seemed to be nearer the end in general, but there’s always a thrill in finishing the game and reaching the “prize”.

Debriefing

The GM arrived to collect us as we finished. They were happy to talk through things, and showed us the puzzles we’d “missed” by not failing the puzzle mentioned above.

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