Online, Jul 2020
I have a suspicion that The Bank Job will rapidly end up being referred to in enthusiast circles as The Blue Bag, with Trapped’s other games being The Yellow Bag and The Green Bag respectively; their official game names are so squarely in the escaping mainstream that they’re a lot less distinctive than the packaging.
That packaging is a bag made of stiff card, containing a wad of game components mostly in the form of cards and posters. The intention is that you set up the game around your living room, and while you could play most of it around a table instead it’s better suited to a more active style of play. Setting up the game doesn’t involve any major spoilers, and could be done by one of the players, though the ideal is probably to have a non-player prepare the game.
Some components require cutting out, and personally I’d suggest doing that beforehand, though doing that mid-game or just not at all could also work. It’s a non-destructive cutting out though, such that the game is replayable even if you’ve cut things out, as long as you don’t write on anything. There’s potential for customising it to e.g. use an actual padlock if you have one, with a couple of minor modifications.
Which rating I think is suitable for Bank Job depends on lot on who’s playing it and how. All you hard-core puzzle maniacs out there will find it too easy to provide a challenge (and note that this one’s rated as the hardest of the three bags). That goes double if you just pull the puzzle cards out of the box and solve it with one or two of you seated around a table. But that’s not what it’s intended for; it’s intended for active group play around a room, preferably for beginners or younger players who won’t blast through the puzzles quite so quickly.
For that purpose, such as hosting a home escape game for younger teenagers, it strikes me as an excellent product. Most boxed games are actually best suited for a team of one or two, whatever their packaging claims. This one’s an exception, thanks to its very non-linear structure and puzzles that (if the components are dispersed throughout a room) should naturally involve a co-operative communication element.
The puzzles are fairly classic escape room style, and are logical and well designed. One criticism is a particular puzzle where certain key components are actively misleading – the way the illustrations suggest they should be used is not in fact the intended way and results in a wrong answer. Fortunately the game structure includes a nice way to check that your answers as a whole are correct, without giving away which one is wrong if they’re not, which made it fairly quick to detect the problem.
Several little details impressed me too: the way they’ve included little springy plastic strips for mounting clues on the wall, the suggestion of using the box as a clipboard for taking notes, and the general glossy presentation of the components. Also their unusual and effective system for providing multi-tiered hints, which is both easy to read and minimises the risk of seeing a clue you don’t want.
Again, if you’re a regular escaper looking for something to scratch the puzzle-solving itch then you’re probably not really the right audience for this. But if you want a home escape experience you can host for others out of the box (out of the bag?), then this would be an excellent option to look at.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.