When I heard Breakin’ Escape were opening six games simultaneously in London, I was more than a little worried. How do you develop that number of rooms at the same time and not end up with a poor experience? It soon became apparent, though, that this was part of the bigger brand Breakout Romania – renamed because of the clash with the similarly named UK company.
Looking at the Romanian website, it became apparent that the rooms are loosely based on blockbuster films, with this one a Fast and Furious themed game. I was curious about how that would translate to an escape room – I couldn’t even begin to imagine, and the description on the website didn’t really help much – fix a car, find a second car, steal it, then get back to a race which is cover for a bank heist. Ambitious!
You are part of a gang of street racers planning a major heist in New York City. Your goal is to hit the 5 major banks in Manhattan in one night, under the cover of an illegal street race where you will be participating with two of your tuned up cars.
Everything was set for tonight but all your plans went haywire when one of your rival gangs broke into your garage, stole one of your cars and wrecked the other one.
Now you have only one hour to fix the engine of your broken car, find the car park where they have taken you second car and steal it back and then make it in time to the race and finish the job. Do you think your crew has what it takes?
Inside the room
I’d not gone into this game with much anticipation. I’m not a fan of cars, and the story seemed somewhat bizarre, so I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw in front of me. It was very much a caricature of a garage with just enough references to bring the theme across to you. If you don’t pay attention during the game, you could easily think that there’s nothing in the way of story. However, if you take the time to think, you’ll see they’ve taken quite an interesting tack.
The puzzles in this game are metaphors for the actions that you take. You’ll be trying to fix your car in the garage, retrieve the second car from the car park and carry out a heist. For each step along that road, you’ll be solving a puzzle that represents what you need to do. I’d heard tell that Breakin’ puzzles are logical but don’t fit the narrative, but that absolutely wasn’t the case here. Admittedly, the puzzles didn’t make sense in the real world, but that link to our mission was a nice touch.
It’s not clear whether it was partly due to the nature of the mission, but this felt like a very linear game. With just three of us in there, that wasn’t a major problem, but I think we’d have started tripping over each other if we’d had a larger team. At the time, it wasn’t clear whether that was specific to this game, but subsequent impressions were that it’s a general design decision at Breakin’.
All the puzzles in the game made sense to us and covered a wide range of styles. As usual, the highlights for me were some of the physical puzzles, a couple of which involved two people and where more could meaningfully help out. The strength of the physical puzzles was tempered slightly due to a couple of faults we encountered – one that slowed us down and the other which brought us to a grinding halt.
The finale to the game involved a piece of equipment that required batteries which, unfortunately, were pretty flat. The upshot was us spending several minutes trying out the same solution over and over again without success. Fortunately, they’d sensibly provided user feedback for that action, which meant that we knew the issue was probably due to broken/temperamental equipment rather than just us being wrong. Eventually, having tried everything we could think of, we called for some help. The GM tried to give us a clue on how to solve the puzzle but eventually had to come into the room when we kept saying that it wasn’t working. It took a couple more minutes of convincing him that it really was the equipment at fault before he eventually replaced it and tried to convince us we’d just been misusing the old item. Lo and behold, as soon as we got the “working” device, we immediately solved the puzzle and escaped…
We escaped in 37 minutes without having taken a clue. Given the problems we hit with two of the puzzles in the game, it’s reasonable to assume that, if the game had been in full working order, we might have finished in around half an hour.
Heist Plan is a good game with plenty of variety on the puzzle side. Talking to the owner afterwards, it was interesting to hear them say that it’s the one game that they feel is poorer than its original counterpart. In Bucharest, the game apparently has pretty much a real car in it, with one of the puzzles, for example, involving you unlocking the boot. Of course, having not seen the original, we judged it on what was in front of us and it came up well.
The big worry sprang out of those two faults – both felt like they’re likely to hit people frequently. Worse, though, was that when we asked for help we were met very dismissively as if we were the ones at fault. That suggests a lack of monitoring from the GMs and/or a tendency to assume players are to blame for any problems, neither of which are great signs.
Detailed Room Ratings