The Bank Heist – Escape Peterborough – Peterborough

Present, in May 2019, were: Granny, The Ant, Panda, Teenage Avenger, Jammy Avenger Crew, Cynical Panda Crew.

When is an Escape Room not an Escape Room? When you don’t need to escape from it, I suppose. Still, if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck… Bank Heist definitely fits the Escape Room mould. The aim is not to unlock the exit door, but instead to unlock as many doors as possible within the ‘bank’ and steal as much of value as you can in the hour allowed. Cash, coins, gems, gold bars, and even paintings are up for grabs, and then you just stroll out with your swag bags in the final few seconds. That was the advantage of this set-up for me – we would get the full sixty minutes, without feeling like we had failed. We were determined to get our money’s worth, in every sense.

After nailing a fun but fairly conventional beginning – breaking IN to the bank – the game appears to open up, with plenty of puzzles on show to tackle. But this is where we did fall down slightly, as the game is not as free as it first seems, and we wasted some of our time overthinking areas that we had no way of solving early on in the play. In theory, there was plenty for the six of us to do; in practice we found ourselves frustratingly blocked; not helped by tripping over each other in the nicely-styled, but not very exciting bank space. It was a warm day, and a small room combined with 4 teenagers wasn’t necessarily the best place to be.

Puzzles are quite strongly maths-based, which fits thematically but didn’t really play to our strengths. Spotting the thoughtfully provided calculator will probably instil a similiar dread in many teams! The faintly tongue-in-cheek nature of some of the clues amused us though, as did the dry wit of the GM when the Avenger Crew took to begging the TV for hints.

We wondered if the lack of an escape deadline would dilute the tension of this game. The ever present ticking clock meant we still felt a fair degree of jeopardy, probably peaking at the ten-minutes-to-go mark. This did fizzle out right at the end, as we realised we were stuck and didn’t have enough time left to make a significant breakthrough. Our last minute or so was mainly spent watching the clock count down. We did feel a little deflated on exiting, although we were assured that we had still landed a good total haul.

On the plus side, I felt that game would have replay value and quite wanted to try again immediately, as we had meandered away so much time in the second stage and there was so much content left to play. If we had connected with the mindset just a little earlier this would have been a really rewarding experience – although I truly pity a GM resetting if a team goes deep.

As it was, the stop and start flow, and maybe too many cooks (a team of four would be more comfortable) meant this wasn’t our teens’ favourite experience. The fake turd was a huge hit with the boys, though.

  • Storyline: Steal stuff. The end.
  • Theming and Set: Quite nicely done, but not a wow. Room was hot.
  • Searching: A bit, but not enough to keep everyone busy.
  • Puzzles: Sums, sums and more sums. Plus the odd riddle.
  • Physicality: Very little. 
  • Scare factor: Zero, unless mortgage rates bring you out in a rash.
  • Company Age Guidance: “The puzzles may be too demanding for those under 10. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult*.”
  • Age suitability: Actually felt like quite a grown-up game. Not really much appeal to kids. *Teenage Avenger did another room at this venue with only under 16s, just needed to ask.

At the same venue, see also: 221B Baker Street

At other escape venues: Sabotage