Date completed: July 2017 (4 players). Failed as thieves!
Creativity: 8; Difficulty: varies; Atmosphere: 9; Fun: 8.
- Fluent English
- 1-4 players
After our successful foray as bank thieves in Small Time Criminals, we thought we had it covered when we were assigned the job of conducting an Art Heist to retrieve a painting named The Fat Dragon from Wade Galleries. This job turned out harder than expected and hilarious antics and theatrics ensued.
At first glance, the job seemed simple enough. We had 15 minutes to case Wayne Galleries, determine its security layout and then have 45 minutes to steal the mark. After coming up with a relatively simple and straightforward plan, we executed it only to find that the security systems were better than we thought. Huh. No plans survive first contact. We adapted, but we did not overcome.
In this not-quite-an-escape-room offering from Jetpack Theatre, players will decide how to steal the painting. Analysing the game after our unsuccessful play through, we found that it would be possible for players to plan a number of different approaches – from Splinter Cell style stealth, Catch Me If You Can style bluffing, to an Ocean’s Eleven style combined plan. However, what is planned is usually quite different from what eventuates.
In our case, an initial slip up led to over 40 minutes of engagement with the security guards, played by actors, in hilarious situations. One of the strong points of the game has to be level of improvisation that the actors were capable of. They were very good sports. Equally hilarious too were the situations where we had multiple team members trying to hide and cram themselves in ridiculous places while all this commotion was going on.
Without revealing much of the challenge, I would recommend that prospective thieves going into the Wade Galleries spend some time to take note of everything available to them in the planning room. It was never quite clear how far we could take things and what was within the scope of the game. After the game, we learned that as long as players followed the main rules (eg. not break stuff or assault staff, verbally or physically), the scope was very wide. Even in our not-so-successful attempt, the variety of the interaction, both with people and technical elements, was huge. Be warned, there is no gamemaster providing hints in this game either. You go in there with your own savvy so be prepared to think quickly! If everything goes South, follow the advice of one of the great security guards we met: “Think of happy things, think of puppies!”
Once inside the planning phase there is also a lot of notes on the setup of the joint. We received these notes by email on the day of the game as well. However, as we were travelling and had a busy day, we had no idea they were sent to us. This is possibly the one area we would suggest for improvement and it would have been better had Jetpack Theatre made this information available with at least 48 hours to spare. Maybe I come from a different generation. Even though I check all manner of messages on my phone fairly regularly, it never strikes me to check emails in the middle of the day. Had we known that the notes for the heist were available earlier, we and our friends would have had a fun time planning in advance. Oh well, at least you are warned about this if you take up this Art Heist.
Otherwise though, we had a pretty fun time. The Wade Galleries was convincing as a post-modern gallery, which seemed almost hilariously self conscious of that scene. The staff were adaptive to our antics and the actual theft will be a challenge regardless of whatever method you end up choosing.
The Art Heist was originally slated to finish around 10 July 17, however, this has since been extended to 27 August. A look at their website also indicates that bookings until August have been sold out, so if this is your kind of adventure, buy their tickets quickly before they get snapped up!
Out of the room
Service and communication: We were given a quick briefing on the broad rules of the game and how much time we had to case the Wade Galleries before we were allowed into the planning room. We were also reminded of how the Art Hesit differed from escape rooms as the objective was not to ‘escape’. On that advice, Pa and I differed in the interpretation. I took it as whatever goes to steal the painting as long as it was within the rules of the game while Pa saw that advice as saying that the game would not have escape room elements at all (which turned out to be incorrect). In any case, do ask questions before you start.
As mentioned in the review, there is also no gamemaster in this game. The only interactions are with the environment, the security guards and yourselves.
There are lockers for player’s belongings.
Surroundings: The Wade Galleries is on New Cantebury Rd at Dulwich Hill in inner West Sydney. The best ways to get there are by bus/cab/uber/car. There are a number of restaurants and cafes in the area.
Art Heist has also been reviewed by Escape Rooms in Sydney.