Room: Bank Heist
Location: Social Escape Level 2, 62 Wyndham Street Alexandria
Cost: $40 per person
Escaped: Yes, with ten minutes to spare
Overall rating: 38/40
A fiendishly difficult but incredibly fun room that you’ll probably want to play a second time.
Enter the mind of a criminal, as you prepare to take on the biggest bank heist of your career. The lucrative prize, a diamond of great wealth, sits within the bank vault waiting for you to release it.
Prepare to have your brains, skill and dexterity tested to the limit in this daring bank robbery, before the alarm sounds and the authorities arrive.
As much as I know the best way to build a following is to blog regularly, I haven’t been playing escape rooms for awhile. New rooms don’t seem to be opening up that frequently in Sydney, so it was with great excitement my team and I finally assembled to do Social Escape’s newest room, Bank Heist. We’d taken our time in getting around to playing it despite the lure of a $500 prize to the first team who completed the full game, largely because we didn’t think we were in with a chance anyway. Mark, the owner, informed us that this room is his hardest yet with a 23% success rate. Additionally, if you do manage to finish the game there are also a number of optional puzzles you can solve, which were required to win the cash prize. To date, only two teams have successfully completed this (and neither on their first time playing).
Needless to say, I didn’t have high hopes when we entered the room. To my great surprise, not only did we finish the room with ten minutes spare to start working on the optional puzzles, we even had the third fastest recorded time. I don’t know how far through the optional puzzles we got, but we’re already making plans to go back a second time to see if we can crack it. In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised by our success. There are a number of rooms I’ve played that I really struggled with that just don’t suit the way my brain works. By contrast, playing at Social Escape is always a joy. The puzzles make sense to me and no matter how difficult the room is, that’s what makes the experience fun for me in the end.
As always, hints were unlimited although I’m pleased to report we didn’t need that many. The majority of our hints related to certain high-tech elements not quite working the way they were supposed to, but in at least one of those instances I think it was probably more down to user error. Social Escape uses the voice of god hint system which is my favourite because of its simplicity.
The theming for this room was more or less exactly what you’d expect. A bank vault isn’t visually the most exciting theme, but there were a lot of small touches that really added to the whole thing. It felt authentic and it was very cleverly put together.
Mark told me the design for this room was in part modelled off Ex Libris by Next Level Escape, who also have a basic game with additional optional objectives. That being said, the way in which the extra objectives were incorporated into the game was very different. I do love a good high-tech puzzle and being a bank vault, this game had plenty of them, but there were a good amount of low-tech puzzles as well. I also appreciated that the game was non-linear at many points, which meant our group frequently broke off into pairs to solve separate puzzles keeping everyone busy. There was also a great variety of puzzles, which I suppose was probably easy to do because there were so many of them. The sheer number of puzzles is definitely one of the reasons the room has such a low success rate. You can’t slow down for even a second and as soon as you solve one puzzle there are five others waiting for you.
I loved this room. I must admit got a little too into it and started yelling at my teammates at one point (my bad, sorry everyone), but it was only because I was really invested in finishing. There were a few times I needed a slight nudge in the right direction, but I never found anything to be too frustrating which made the gameplay thoroughly enjoyable. As I said at the beginning, Social Escape’s rooms really just work for my way of thinking – and considering our final time, I can safely say that’s true for the rest of my team as well. One great thing about having so many puzzles is that the experience was full of a lot of “aha!” moments which is always immensely satisfying. Of the three rooms at Social Escape, I have to say Bank Heist was my favourite despite the fact that it’s arguably the most difficult.
Exceptional service and experience, as always. Max, our gamemaster, was wonderful and the whole team at Social Escape are always a lot of fun to talk to. It’s a really welcoming place and it’s obvious everyone really enjoys what they do.
Overall rating: 38/40
A very challenging room with a great mix of puzzles.