A work of art that falls flat as its about to hit high notes.
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date played: May 10, 2015
Team size: 2-4; we recommend 2-4
Price: $79 per team Sunday – Friday, $99 per team Saturday
“Test your skills in “The Steal”, a heist mission where steady hands and clever wits are all you have. Your job is to steal a priceless Qing dynasty coin from INTERCEPT, a shadowy criminal organization. Your team must outwit security sensors and alarms to retrieve the coin. You cannot fail this mission, or it will be your last…”
More heist, less escape
This game is more of a heist than an escape. You’re “breaking” into the private museum of some anonymous bad guy to steal some stuff. Technically you have to “escape” at the end, but the escape is not the focus; the setup is cool.
Before you walk into the room, you learn the basic structure: You must circumvent an alarm system in order to steal a series of artifacts. When the light on an alarm is green, you can make an attempt at circumvention. When the light is red, you’re in danger; you must reset and wait for the light to turn green before you can make another attempt.
Thoughtful business owners
Puzzah has a beautiful waiting area complete with puzzles for sale, and lockers for players to stash their belongings. They’re even building a mini puzzle game to occupy players while they wait their turn to enter their room.
Theses are nice touches that I have not seen from any other company.
This is a beautiful room.
The designers minded the details in an admirable way. Everything from the floor to the ceiling is deliberately crafted to make the small room feel like a private museum… Seriously there was a point in the middle of this game where I found myself gazing up at the ceiling and admiring how perfect it was for this game.
This room is very technology heavy, and tied to that, the hints seem automated. They are tied to various actions that you could take within the room. As you wrestle with the rooms “alarm systems,” hints are delivered based on home much the system thinks you’re sucking.
The room is very linear. Often we figured out how to disarm an alarm, but needed to make a few attempts at it… The hints started to feel a little patronizing, telling us things we already knew.
We figured out all of the puzzles in the room reasonably quickly. Some of them we figured out before we had the gear we needed to complete them.
In spite of the fact that we figured out the puzzles, when we went to resolve them, we were never really sure if we were doing it correctly. The alarms felt wonky, and at no point were we sure that they were going to turn off after we stole an artifact. This made this room fall flat.
Each time you steal an artifact should feel like a moment of triumph. The puzzles were clever, so solving them is fun… But then spoiled by the total uncertainty of whether or not we just lost because maybe the alarm wasn’t going to shut off. And in the end, that’s exactly what happened to us.
We solved the final puzzle correctly, stole the aforementioned coin, and the alarm didn’t turn off. Our game master walked in, told us that we lost, and then when we made him explain why the alarm didn’t turn off, he looked at our solution and confirmed that we did it correctly.
We left with a lot of mixed emotions.
Should I play Puzzah’s The Steal?
The Steal was such a great idea. The look of the room was spot on. The puzzles were fresh and clever… Yet I left feeling letdown.
The Steal’s crime was that it sets huge expectations for itself, and consistently fell just short of delivering.
There were so many good ideas in this game, and the alarm system was one of them… But it needed to be tuned for fun and accuracy. You cannot build an automated system that tells you that you lost when the puzzle was solved correctly; especially on the final puzzle.
I’d love to recommend The Steal, but I cannot in its current form. It needs tuning.
That being said, I love what Puzzah is trying to do, and am excited to play their second game.
Book your hour with Puzzah’s The Steal, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.