The Heist: Remote Avatar Experience • Trapped Puzzle Rooms • Avatar-Led Remote Escape Room Review
Game Website | Company Website | Based In: Saint Paul, MN, USA
💪 Difficulty: Not specified.
⏲️ Time duration: 70 minutes limit.
🔢 Capacity: Minimum of 3 players, and maximum of 8 players. Private booking.
📝 Careful--note potential time difference between your location and the host's when booking.
🛒 If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
TL;DR... THE QUICK VERSION
➲ Premise: Infiltrate an art gallery to steal a stolen artwork back.
➲ This company's known for audio-led games, this new avatar-led option also rocks!
➲ Online version very close to their original, in-person experience.
➲ The many pieces of art in the gallery are original, amusing, and beautiful to the eyes.
➲ The puzzles made clever use of art props, are well-themed, and a mix of gen 1 and 2 challenges.
➲ Avatar is affable, Telescape web interface offers online "mini puzzle" and complements nicely.
➲ 𝙀𝙎𝘾𝘼𝙋𝙀 𝙈𝘼𝙏𝙏𝙎𝙏𝙀𝙍 😍 subjective rating: 💪 3 to 4/10 difficulty (team of 3), 🔢 ideal team size of 3 to 4.
➲ Special note: game may lightly involve outside knowledge.
The Heist takes you inside Stephen J. Pillager’s art gallery as you attempt to retrieve a precious piece of stolen artwork. Our infiltration specialist isn’t the brightest, so you will need to lead them through this tricky heist. (This experience is identical to our physical experience at our St. Paul location, except you and your team will play it online!)
THE UNABRIDGED EDITION
I have thoroughly enjoyed what Trapped Puzzle Rooms has done to adapt to the new landscape of escape room business. Early on this year, when physical visits to venues are discouraged in the face of the pandemic, the creators quickly rose to the occasion by providing their customers and fans a new option: audio-led virtual adventures, which turned out to be some of their best-received works in the industry. (In fact, I will be booking my next one fairly soon.)
Now the same folks are venturing into a new territory of remote gaming: avatar-led, livestream escapes. While this is a new endeavor for this company, avatar-hosted remote games have been a buzzing trend for months now, and compared to when it first began, game play has been constantly refined, supporting technology has gradually improved, and competitions have become fierce. To enter the market now, relatively late in the game, a new player better be ready...
And Trapped Puzzles Rooms is READY. In fact, way beyond ready.
"The Heist: Remote Avatar Experience" is a direct online port of one of Trapped's physical rooms. For those who have already played this well-loved classic, you may want to skip this online version. (Don't worry; no one's offended.)
But for those who have yet to visit the St. Paul branch, this faithfully translated virtualization is an excellent and affordable opportunity to experience something very darn close--with over 90% of the original puzzles retained, presented smoothly via the web. And because "The Heist" (the irl rendition) is such a well-run title to begin with, it came as no surprise that my team (featuring the folks from Review The Room) loved every second of its online counterpart.
As mentioned, it was evident that a lot of work was done before the game's final public release. Every single component of the room was ready for action. The set, the avatar, the inventory system, everything went off without a hitch--wait no, more than that--everything lived up to the equivalent high quality that is signature of their audio-led adventures.
First, the set. "The Heist" tasks you to steal a painting from a gallery, so look forward to seeing quite a collection of artworks. And even though the room setup may look a little sparse from the trailer, I did not feel this way when I was actually playing. In fact, when given the chance to examine the art pieces up close via Zoom, each individual item bore impressive details. The 5 lobby paintings, cute. The antique plates, remarkable. The social commentary piece, relatable. There's so much personality permeating throughout, I found myself zoning out from time to time to fully absorb the quirkiness from more than a dozen art displays--all exclusive and original works by Trapped's resident artist, no less.
Moreover, these art stations were just as clever as they were aesthetically pleasing. Let's not forget, these were puzzles in disguise. Very early on, from the same 5 lobby paintings mentioned, my team learned that there are often layers of ingenuity embedded to discover. For instance, the lobby puzzle itself was not super obvious, but once you figured it out, you screamed in excitement at its "sorta obviousness". A "duh" moment, if you will. The solution, once revealed, related back to the painting style, completing a full circle. It was this exact intelligent approach of blending the art theme with puzzles that actually made sense that kept the game fun, unpredictable, and such a joy from beginning to end.
I guess one could say, this is beauty and brains combined.
There is a healthy mix of gen-1 challenges (locks) and gen-2 tasks (gadgets and tech) to keep the journey variable and interesting. Overall, game play leans linear, which suits the avatar-led format, and is fairly beginners friendly.
Our avatar was Anna, who actually hosted my Super Squad audio-led game. She was charming then, and she was also charming as my Zoom surrogate. Because the "heist a painting" premise is fairly common, it puts a considerable amount of weight on the avatar to make the story engaging--Anna did exactly that. Though she wasn't exactly playing in character per se, her innate personality came through as naturally bubbly and amusing. She was responsive to playful banters, great with camera angles, and quick on her feet in prop manipulations. She's a delightful ingredient to a successful recipe.
Finally, the Telescape-powered inventory system was easy to use, and the company employed its features to the fullest to supplement the full-package experience. The 360° panoramic views were diligently labeled, with every solvable lock clearly indicated for easy housekeeping. The one physical puzzle that did not fit online play well was replaced by an interactive mini game on the Telescape interface, so in a way, whether you play in-person or online, you get the full money's worth.
Having previously witnessed first-hand what Trapped is capable of basing on their audio-led games, I've always had a certain level of confidence they will do a good job with their project expansion. And thankfully, my instinct was proven correct with "The Heist". The folks from Trapped are hardworking, passionate, and evidently, very good at their craft. If more avatar-led options are in the pipeline, the escape room community is in for quite the treat.
★ In some situations, lending a small hand to a normal sized one is all the help one needs.
★ If given a large amount of text, you already know you don't need all that! Single out only the most important parts.
★ This isn't a tip, but... Was the wall sculpture an inspiration to a certain inter-dimensional portal in Super Squad?
READY FOR FUN?
"The Heist: Remote Avatar Experience" is available for booking HERE.
If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
𝙀𝙎𝘾𝘼𝙋𝙀 𝙈𝘼𝙏𝙏𝙎𝙏𝙀𝙍 😍
⤻ Full disclosure: Complimentary game access was generously provided for review purposes.
⤻ All media credited to and provided by contents owners. No copyright infringement intended. ⤻ Speed code for on-site search: TPRHeist