Outside the room
Enigma Quests have been around since 2015, but they took their time to bring out Million Pound Heist. After their debut with the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I had high hopes for their second outing. They know how to make a good set and build up a set of challenges into a game and aren’t afraid of using technology to bring magic into the room. All looked good for the heist!
On the face of it, things hadn’t changed much in the year since we were last there although, following some unfortunate flood damage, I suspect they’ve had to do a fair amount of work. It’s a pleasant waiting environment, with bean bags and a table football table as well as a few odds and ends on the bookshelves to keep you occupied. It’s definitely the sort of place where you shouldn’t worry about turning up a few minutes early. In addition, that table football table may become relevant while you’re waiting to find out your score!
Your team is breaking into the safehouse of London’s most notorious criminal gang. You will have to analyse highly confidential information, navigate your way through top level security and all this before you can even attempt to enter the vault. Of course there is money involved, but the challenges along the way will be tough and efficient teamwork will be absolutely essential to get you anywhere.
Inside the room
Enigma Quests know how to build pretty rooms. Yes, at some level this was just another mafioso-style office, but they’ve gone that much further than most companies to create a plush interior worthy of a wealthy criminal. That standard is maintained as the game progresses, and I’d have to be pretty picky to fault the look of the game.
Something has always grated slightly about the start of this game, and it’s only in writing this review (a few months later…) that I’ve realised what it was. For a game that starts off in a criminal mastermind’s safehouse, it’s strange that it should end up in a proper bank vault rather than breaking into a large safe or similar. If you view the game as scenes within a heist film, then it works better – you just need to gloss over the transitions between separate parts of the story.
It’s a satisfyingly physical game in several senses. It challenged players physically, it required physical actions to pass certain stages, it felt physically strong where required, and some of the puzzles were satisfyingly tactile. So many games are filled with puzzles that aren’t very different from an online escape game or even a puzzle book that it’s great to see a game that’s very much towards the other end of the spectrum.
However, it wasn’t all at that standard. The start of this game felt very much like an online escape game with relatively disappointing puzzles. Although they were all gettable, several puzzles left me unsatisfied through a lack of direction, ambiguous solutions or a feeling that we’d got the answer but it was a stretch.
The clue system in this game is definitely a highlight for me. Firstly, the mechanism for requesting a clue is woven naturally into the game world. Secondly, the reason that clues are available doesn’t break the immersion – you’re on a heist and you can get someone to help you but they’ll want a cut of your “earnings”. Finally, they distinguish between offering a clue and you asking for it. If you request a clue, it will cost you more than if you’re offered one. I think this may be the most well-though-out clue system I’ve ever seen in any game.
I had a very clear picture of what this heist would be about, so I was looking forward to a stressful, action-packed finale. However, when that part of the game arrived, I felt very disappointed. They’ve absolutely made that final few minutes in the room stressful but, for me, it became… tedious. Frustratingly, they’ve built a game which has the backdrop for something really exciting but, in my opinion, in the process of making it more real, they’ve taken a big chunk of the fun out of it.
We escaped with a few seconds remaining – this game is about maximising wealth, not minimising time in the room. Unfortunately, we didn’t do very well on that front, having taken a couple of clues resulting in us making off with just over £500k.
Should you review a game against the competition or against its potential? I really felt this game had the potential to be one of the most amazing games I’d played, and I’ll forever feel sad that it didn’t fully realise that potential. I can’t really just judge it by what it could have been, though, and, in truth, it was still a great game. The vault, the security features and the general concept were all top quality, but the slightly weak puzzles and an ending that became somewhat tedious took the shine off an otherwise good performance. Go in with your eyes open and I think you’ll leave having had a good time.
This game benefits from a couple of extra hands, so I’d recommend taking a group of four enthusiasts even if that means you’ll be a little crowded at times. For less experienced players, I’d suggest maxing out the room.
Detailed Room Ratings