RATING: 4 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 18:18
Even high intensity lasers and the world’s most lackadaisical security team cannot prevent us from getting our hands on this diamond!
We have been framed for stealing the rare “Star of Infinity” diamond, recently unearthed in South Africa. Experts believe it’s the most valuable diamond known to man. It was stolen by a masked gunmen hired by organized crime leader Quentin Ortiz.
It’s believed that Ortiz is housing his new prize in his secret vault, protected by multiple security mechanisms including high intensity lasers. It’s up to us to secure the diamond before Ortiz’s is alerted and clear our names.
It did feel as though part of the story was a bit superficial, as we never actually encountered Ortiz – the lead criminal. Our storyworld interactions were limited solely to the security guards “protecting” the diamond.
Truthfully, we were under the impression that we were the criminals robbing from the good guys’ secured location – but at the end of the day, most important is that the final result was an enjoyable game.
On paper in its purest form, this is a white box game – however that may be completely by design, as it manages to evoke a somewhat “Mission: Impossible” spy world flavor.
Apart from the walls, the extent of the scenic was a couple of desks – but the real focus of this space was clearly intended from the start to be the blue diamond and the bright green lasers protecting it.
Though more about character than setting, we actually do directly encounter members of the guard staff throughout several pieces of security camera footage. It was a clever way to activate the room and validate it as a real place.
We made the decision to play this game with the room’s actual lights turned off – in fact it was the first thing we did upon entering the space. Not only did this make the it easier to see the lasers, but it gave the room a whole new level of character and excitement.
We recommend for the true spy-type experience, you do the same!
Puzzles are where this game really shines. All story driven, and like Wild West, not at all linear.
Each security guard essentially had his own puzzle flow to be worked through. Success means finding his key and gaining access to one of the override buttons for the diamond’s security system.
This, again, creates an enjoyable milestone-driven style of game play which constantly rewards players with a sense of forward momentum.
The lasers themselves, stressed in the storyline, were also a vital game component. Part escape game, part laser maze – tripping them had negative consequences that must be avoided to successfully complete your mission.
Diamond Heist is proof that you should never judge a book by its cover. Our first impression when we entered was that the room looked rather bare, especially compared to Escape Thrill’s other three games. However, we quickly realized that the quality of gameplay experience was equally on par. In fact, the scenic aspect – something that we do consider when rating a game – is the only reason Diamond Heist drops down to 4 Keys, while unquestionably remaining a great game.
The puzzles were intuitive, and much more story-driven than we would have expected. Most impressively, in a fairly empty room Escape Thrill found ways to hide clues and puzzles in almost plain site – and did so quite successfully.
Diamond Heist has the same iPad tablet-based hint system as their Wild West game, but we elected not to use it, requesting our hints be delivered “the old fashioned way” – an option Escape Thrill is more than happy to provide.
This game is really designed for a minimum group size of four players – and actually has aspects that cannot be achieved with less. Escape Thrill’s wonderful staff literally went out of their way to accommodate our party of two, making it not only possible but entirely fun. It’s rare to find a venue that will make the offer to adjust things on the fly for guests – but they were absolutely glad to do it.
Even with the preface being an over-used theme – something everyone knows we are particular about – we found great enjoyment in their unique take on it. In this case, I’m very happy to be wrong, because had we skipped Diamond Heist based solely on the originality of its cover, we would have missed one of the better games in Central Florida.
Venue: Escape Thrill
Location: Clearwater, Florida
Number of Games: 4
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 6 people
Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers.
Cost: $28 per person