Quite a crop of pop-up escape games in London these last few months. Escape this Room has gone to a lot of effort to build something for a month-long run and London Bank Heist was a good example of attention to detail and had something for everyone in terms of puzzles.
Team Judge hit Escape this Room in its final week of operations. As it’s now closed I’m potentially going to be a little looser than usual in terms of spoilers, though only a little as I have a feeling that they will turn up again.
The story here is that you are entering the bank in the role of engineers to sort out some problems with the vault.
In this venue we were welcomed in-character (and also briefly) by our host, who greeted us as the maintenance engineers that he’d hired and invited us to don the provided overalls. These were in enough different sizes not to be troublesome. A modest-size chest was provided for our stuff.
The first notification we got that things were underway was when the clock started counting down, after which the video briefing kicked off explaining, as one might have surmised, that we were not in fact engineers, but criminals, with a goal of liberating a priceless diamond from the bank vault and exiting with it. The security guard had been drugged and would be out for about an hour (funny that), and we would need to make our way through the bank and unlock the security systems without triggering any alarms.
With plenty of different items available at any point in time, there was a higher than normal amount of trial and error needed to make our way through the room. Tech abounded, but so did red herrings in the shape of items that might potentially have been useful but really weren’t. There were also a lot of locks which there was no need, or indeed ability, to unlock.
Hints came through the tablet screens present in most rooms. This was also the method for delivery of interim instructions (for example, of the “don’t forget to bring X” variety). Some of these came by “video call”, and others were textual.
Nevertheless, everything we needed was there somewhere, even if it took us a little while to figure some things out. The four categories immortalised by The Crystal Maze were all present in one way or another.
One of the usual tropes of nothing being above head height was broken — despite the briefing saying we would not need to climb, at least one item involved needing to reach up with a provided tool. We also needed to use one “thing” twice.
I think we spent more than typical trying to figure out what to do: the number of puzzles was not very high, but the difficulty of figuring out what to do was frequently high. Too high in some areas. And in another, the instructions seemed to suggest leaving everything behind except A, B, and C, before progressing to another room with the door locking behind us and asking if we had remembered what was written on D as well.
Nevertheless, we somewhat bumbled our way through and out in 55 minutes. We received somewhere around 10 hints, in varying degrees of relevance and usefulness – some referred to elements we had already solved, and some were of the “we’d never have got this without a hint” variety. There was a rather high number of props, some of needed to be carried through to later, and some of which didn’t.
There were a few other rough edges, of which I’m a bit more forgiving in a pop-up, though the weak UV torch (possibly one of the most tiresome escape room tropes known to mankind) wasn’t one of them. I also question the clock starting before a three-minute video briefing.
This is a heavily linear game; at any point in time there is no more than one or two things to be doing. However, there are also enough red herrings that picking the right thing to focus on is non-trivial.
Full disclosure: We were not charged for this game. This does not affect our review in any way; see our policies for more.
Accessibility: Not at all suitable for wheelchair users.
Alerts: UV, time penalties, crawling required in height-restricted space (0.5m), overalls provided (and necessary), mandatory lockers.
Capacity: The one room takes 3-6 players.
Cost: Early doors they were charging £29 per person; this was later reduced to £24 per person on Saturdays and £21 on other days. We were not charged for this game.
Photo: Taken on a phone afterwards. Will update when I see it.
Getting there: Escape this Room was midway between Old Street (Northern line and National Rail) and Shoreditch High Street (London Overground).
Note: This room is now closed.