Heist Escape Party – Grand Theft Antimatter [Review]

Warhead Antimatter Response (W.A.R). What is it good for?

Location: at home

Date played: August 21, 2016

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 2-4

Price: $14.99 for the printable PDF

Story & setting

Set in a William Gibson-esque techno-dystopia, our team of rebel thieves had to prevent the United World Government from completing its Warhead Antimatter Response (W.A.R) facility.

This was an at-home print and play game with simple, yet effectively stylized artwork.

A collection of the game's paper cards.

The game spanned four chapters. Each player chose to “play as” one of the four characters. Each chapter cast one of the characters as “leader.” Each chapter had a handful of puzzles.

Puzzles

Grand Theft Antimatter leaned heavily on variety; no two puzzles were alike. They ranged from expected to unusually creative.

Not every puzzle was created equal. Some were great, some were weak, and one irked me.

One game card reads,

Overall, we didn’t find any one puzzle too challenging.

Standouts

I wasn’t expecting this: The character mechanic that empowered one player per chapter was remarkable. In each chapter all team members turned to the leading character and treated them as the team captain. The leading player only had minor power, but, on our team, the mechanic transcended all other team leadership dynamics. It was cool.

The art was consistent and solid.

The episodic structure helped to avoided bottlenecking.

Shortcomings

The puzzles were a mixed bag.

The story was cute but barely relevant.

Six people, the advertised capacity, was two too many. There were only four characters and chapters; the structure could not sustain more than a few strong puzzlers. We quickly blew through the game.

Should I play Heist Escape Party’s Grand Theft Antimatter?

Heist Escape Party has the simplest approach to at-home escape game design that we’ve seen to date. It was inexpensive, easy to set up, and easy to play.

It was essentially a collection of puzzles with a tiny bit of story and a simple leadership mechanic.

The leadership mechanic was by far the most interesting part of the experience for our team. Your mileage may vary, but for Lisa and me, it’s very unusual for the power dynamics to ever shift on our teams. Whether we want to or not, one of us ends up leading.

Grand Theft Antimatter wasn’t a bad game, but wasn’t particularly exceptional either. It was puzzle-centric, but the puzzles didn’t support the weight of the entire game.

There’s a great concept and structure here. I am willing to bet that Heist Escape Party could make something exceptional if they focus their efforts to make more consistently great puzzles that also serve their story.

At $15, Grand Theft Antimatter is worth the money for puzzle lovers, but don’t expect it to exceed your expectations.

Download your copy of Heist Escape Party’s Grand Theft Antimatter, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

4 thoughts on “Heist Escape Party – Grand Theft Antimatter [Review]

  1. Thanks for the writeup – they gave me a preview of the kids’ version and I was a bit disappointed. Looking around the website it’s clear that they’ve put together a wealth of information about creating your own escape room so I agree with you – there’s definitely scope for them producing something exceptional. I’m very hopeful that we’ll see something special in the future.

    The leadership/roles mechanic is an interesting one for me. I played a real escape room where each clue was tagged with a specific person’s role but it was a pain to handle in the game – people didn’t want to be interrupted to look at the clue you found so we ended up just looking at the clues we found. I could see home versions doing this much more successfully because specific clues could be given to specific people from the start and then they only become relevant later in the game. Perhaps some people know the history of the building they’re in, others know about the specific people, another has the layout of the building. If a designer could weave that into the story it would encourage everyone to be engaged and I’d love that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Super thanks for checking out the game Lisa & David (same to you Ken – thelogicescapesme). Totally agree on the puzzles being not that engaging/linear. I totally need to do a Version 2 of this game.

      Since I launched that kit I’ve had a lot more discussions with people about how to re-create the escape room experience at home (without a game master and fancy tech).

      Let’s see if the next kit can get there😉 Cheers for the feedback.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Cheers for the feedback thelogicescapeme.

      Agreed that in a room where you’re all off doing different things having to cross the floor to check something out every few minutes could get a little frustrating. The nearest thing that comes to mind would be the ‘2 rooms and walkie talkies’ type puzzles but these usually involve the whole group.

      Liked by 1 person

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