The Great Train Robbery – Locked – Dunstable

Present, in January 2020, were: The Ant, Teenage Avenger, Aunty Ant

Train games are like buses – wait ages for one train-themed room, then two come along at once…well, sort of. After our success in Sabotage, Teenage Avenger was keen to play the train game at Locked in Dunstable. Being a culturally deficient teen, he did seem to think this was a Wild West-style heist (‘can I wear my sombrero?’), so was a little disappointed to find it is set in 1960s British Rail.

I’m wary of games based on real-life events. Can be indicative of a lack of sensitivity or a lack of imagination. Fortunately, the concept of the actual Great Train Robbery is merely a jumping-off point for a fun heist set-up. Era remains the same, but no beating up of rail crew required. We’re set in two fustily accurate Royal Mail carriages, plus the driver’s cab, with the aim to steal the maximum cash from the High Value Packages’ unit, stop the train and do a bunk, all within the hour. Like any good heist, success is measured by value stolen, rather than time taken.

This is a fairly padlock-heavy game. But in terms of storyline, this is appropriate, and enough creativity has been used here so it doesn’t get old. A spread of classic puzzles have been employed, using the guise that the postal service encrypts their lock boxes using a range of different codes. So there is some satisfyingly old-school deciphering going on here.

Locked also pull a few innovative tricks out of the mailbag. One in particular is quite transgressive, while being totally in theme with the room – we felt the need to check with the GM that we were on the right track, and admired their boldness. Couple of other features were interesting touches that definitely added to the enjoyment of the room. And we totally appreciated the effort that had gone into addressing all the post with wacky, pop-culture or frankly groan-worthy pun names.

In amongst the fun, one puzzle hit squarely in Aunty Ant’s bugbear zone. We found items, figured out roughly how they should form a code, but the items were tiny and packed with data, which could be processed in different ways. We poured over the items for several minutes and couldn’t confidently identify a pattern, so asked for a clue: they told us to use the question marks. This was a struggle, not through some mind-meltingly clever puzzle, but because the symbols were so tiny, smudged and faint we read them as different numbers and letters, even when we knew what we were looking for. It crossed a line from ‘tricky’ to ‘unfairly illegible’.

That little frustration aside, we had a great time in this room. Sammy GM’d us sensibly and with enthusiasm, and we were buzzed to escape in good time with all the dosh. In most areas, this first class heist delivered.

  • Storyline: Rob the train, stop the train. Nice and simple.
  • Theming and Set: Maintains a good sense of time and place, smart use of video.
  • Searching: Not very search heavy, but some required.
  • Puzzles: Surprisingly intellectual in some places, surprisingly blunt in others.
  • Physicality: A little bit of hauling stuff around.
  • Scare factor: None.
  • Company Age Guidance: ” Whilst we don’t have a specific age limit on our rooms we do recommend the games to ages 13+ due to the complexity of the experiences. Under 13’s must be accompanied by an adult”.
  • Age suitability: Slightly older spin than the similarly themed Sabotage. Not enough room for a non-playing tot, but babe-in-arms would be fine.

Also at this venue: Strange Things