⏲️ TIME LIMIT: 60 Minutes
💬 DIFFICULTY: 8/10 (Official) | Medium to Hard (Mattster)
👨👩👧👦 CAPACITY: 3-7 Players
🔐 GAME TYPE: Private
💰 PRICING: $25 Per Person
► PREMISE AND OBJECTIVES ◄
Official Premise (from The Escape Game): There's an art to crime... Your world-class espionage outfit has landed you inside a prestigious art museum. A recently stolen masterpiece is presumed hidden within the office of the museum’s egotistical curator, Vincent Hahn. With the help of your intelligence agent on the outside, you have one hour to find your way into Hahn’s office, recover the painting, and slip away before Hahn returns.
► ROOM ESSENCE AT A GLANCE ◄
📚 NARRATIVE: An exciting opening chapter of an art theft saga
👀 VISUAL: Absolutely grade A materials, gorgeous, gorgeous set
🧩 PUZZLE: Large variety, mix of obvious to hard ones that stumped me
🧠 IMMERSION: Decent, if avatar's acting can turn up a notch, even better!
🎮 REMOTE INTERFACE: Professional, but should rid of vertical scrolling
🏪 VENUE: N/A
💁♂️ STAFF: Again very professional, unique avatar/game master combo
💭 OVERALL: Quality that one would expect from TEG, love it
🎟️ BEST FIT FOR: Fans of TEG brand, Hahn story line, mental puzzles
🎫 IDEAL TEAM SIZE: 4 was good, probably even 6 if novice
had a great time at The Barclay Museum of Historical Art.
A short while back, I did reviews for The Escape Game's two at-home experiences, titled "TEG Unlocked, The Heist" Volume 1 and Volume 2. In these 2 chapters of the same story universe, we chased art thief Vincent Hahn around the globe, hoping for an eventual successful arrest.
Vincent Hahn, brooding art curator and mustache model
Now, the Unlocked series state explicitly that you don't need any prior knowledge of the plot to start playing, even though they are the direct continuations of the narrative from TEG's physical room "The Heist". Even then, I wanted to. Something's amiss if you don't know the whole story.
But, it wasn't like I had any other choice anyway, since presently, there isn't a close by branch in Southern California. In fact, back in 2019, I remember thinking, "Lucky enthusiasts out of state, they get to experience all the TEG offerings. They sure look awesome."
Fast forward to 2020, at the moment I was invited to try TEG's newly launched remote escape rooms... My jaw dropped.
MY. MOMENT. IS. NOW. Cue the Kelly Clarkson music.
HOLY CRAP, IT'S REALLY HAPPENING.
There are 3 choices currently available for remote gaming, but it took me no time at all to decide on "The Heist". I want to know how it all began. I want to witness the critical moment when Hahn becomes a runaway fugitive.
This "prequel", if you will, or technically the origin chapter, tells the tale of how the world suspects the handsome curator of committing robbery, but has not yet found any proof. So we are tasked to break in and investigate.
Came game day, I was pumped. I got my Zoom live feed window on one screen, their exclusive inventory system screen on another, pencil and paper in front of me. Let's find some missing artwork!
Right away, I took note of the exceptional professionalism TEG displayed, which set it apart from competing businesses. Let me break this down:
First, you have your avatar, who is your hand and feet in the physical room in Nashville, at your service upon command.
Next, you got a separate game master, which is usually absent or not visibly present during game play. He stayed with us the entire time to monitor and provide hints upon requests. Whether this broke immersion is up for debate, but I kind of saw him as our 5th, backup team member.
Finally, you're given a truly all-access portal to everything helpful for your adventure. This supplemental screen is exclusively designed to TEG, I believe, complete with specially made, game specific graphics. Cute!
This extra portal panel did everything. Intro video, true 360° view of every room you enter, inventory list. Everything is there!
Side screen has many functions, shown: introduction video, featuring concerned agent
Side screen has many functions, shown: 360° panoramic view with movement options
Any item that you cannot make out due to camera quality issue, a duplicate can be seen on the list. Conveniently, items found and used will be added and removed automatically as well. Plus, a friendly "ding!" will alert you every time something's added.
My one gripe with this system, though, is that it ran too big. Everything is super HD and super big on the screen. Vertical scrolling was often needed and it got tiresome after a short while. Otherwise, close to perfect.
With logistics out of the way, it's game time. And we solved our first two puzzles rather quickly!
As one would expect in an art gallery, these puzzles involved artwork, and I fell in love with one of the first challenges almost immediately. It wasn't because the puzzle itself was particularly novel or difficult, but the presentation and execution was smart. Simple, but smart.
Game begins in this specific wing of The Barclay Museum of Historical Art
As we cracked open a few more padlocks and security keypads, we soon found ourselves inside the curator's office.
At this point, I must stop and commend the high production value that TEG insists on for its patron. The set and the props, incredible. Even without being there in person, I could tell from the feed they were stunning.
The color coordination, in this case, brown, bronze, and black merged to form a harmonious backdrop to an exciting heist game. And even more importantly, the design made good sense. Every piece of decor felt hand picked; and nothing, at all, seemed out of place. Wow.
Visually stunning curator's office
As we continued to poke our noses around to find more clues, it did become more obvious that this room relied a little heavier on gen 1 puzzle logic. Whenever possible, a tech piece was implemented to avoid excessive use of locks, but classic puzzle lovers will be highly entertained.
As far as puzzle style goes, this was definitely a happy medium between using all locks, which could be boring, and using all tech, which honestly, may not translate all that well for a remote escape room experience.
I mean, how much fun is truly derived from having your avatar do all the work for you? If an escape room is more brawl than brain, I'd rather save it for later as an in-person game.
For instance, two particular steps involved physical actions to trigger solutions, and while the sequences were technically perfectly captured on the live video feed, it just didn't feel as cool having your avatar do it for you. But then again, if I could, I would've done all their rooms onsite.
On a related note, our avatar did a decent job, though I would prefer an even more dramatic performance to increase immersion. She did, however, got the gaming aspect down to an art. She was extremely efficient at searching and ambulating, not losing a second of our time limit.
I was personally a bit flustered with keeping track of my avatar's video feed and the inventory screen, due to the fact that, as mentioned, I often had to endure a lot of browser scrolling.
The Heist (Credit: The Escape Game)
There were more things to explore and more riddles to solve than expected for a 60 minute game, as such, it's my educated guess that "The Heist" was not modified at all from its original in-person copy. Surely a "best bang for you buck" value, but you've been warned! Move fast to finish on time!
Though at one point I panicked that we might fail this room, we actually beat it with 8 minutes remaining. Whew. We found that missing Monet piece, but Vincent Hahn... He's one step ahead. He's gone.
The narrative continues with the "Unlocked" series, bringing me full circle by my reviewing all of the currently available "The Heist" products. My OCD like personality couldn't be prouder: I did it. I checked off all the chapters.
"The Heist" is a highly polished product with concrete examples of what's done right in an escape room, both in the traditional sense and in the online, remote rendition. I am ever so happy I got to relish one of the best in the US industry for MY 100TH ESCAPE ROOM.
I forgot to mention, this was MY BIG 100TH!!!
A little round of applause for your silly Escape Mattster. Heh. And may I do another 100 more with my friends and great smiles on our faces.
► DISCLAIMERS ◄
We at "Escape Mattster" appreciate this company's hospitality and the opportunity to publish an honest review. Though game access was complimentary, we aim to provide *only* genuine & unbiased opinions.
All official media are provided by or credited to respective contents owners, and are used with proper permission for the purpose of this post.