With "CASINO HEIST", Matt the "ESCAPE MATTSTER" now has an official room count of: 94!
- 10-SECOND QUICKIE VERSION -
Despite being one of the older entries in the 60Out menu, Casino Heist is still a charming good time for those who dare to gamble to become millions of dollars richer. At the peculiar crossroads where slot machines, table games, and escape room puzzles intersect, great fun ensues... just make sure to exit before the demolition dynamites explode.
- NOW... SIGNATURE DETAILED VERSION -
Did you know: 60Out at West LA is, in a way, a milestone for the escape room industry. Originally named Escape Key Room, this is the home to 2 then leadingly innovative, state-of-the-art escape games: Casino Heist, and The Mystery Of Senator Payne.
Back when almost every single bandwagon-jumping escape room business was pumping out lock, key, and combo style games, Esc Key invested in technology based puzzle input, and such investment paid off big time. Undoubtedly rare and impressive at the time, they were catapulted to the front of the industry, and in part helped reshaped the direction of the future market.
Years transpired since then, now acquired by 60Out, this branch still largely remains unchanged. In the current business trend of scraping existing rooms after just 2-3 years sometimes, it's actually pretty amazing to see these games age ever so gracefully. Though constructed circa 2016, both games benefit from having a strong foundation of solid game play. That, plus the undeniable charm of genuinely great puzzles, help Casino and Senator Payne stay relevant without necessitating any newer, flashier, or more gimmicky update.
My "complete" review will be broken into two parts, the first chronicling a gambling adventure, and the second dedicated to a certain mysterious politician.
Casino Heist takes place entirely in the basement of the building, and therefore, I must first compliment the resourceful usage of square footage. While the venue looks small externally, every available inch of internal space was utilized to its maximal potential. Basement, game. First floor, lobby. 2nd floor, game. With this layout, they have more room than meets the eye.
Accordingly, for those pondering if Casino is a one-room game, as I did myself--a pleasant nope! You'll have much to explore as the story unfolds.
Speaking of the plot, I habitually never quite pay close attention to any intro vid, so I wasn't 100% what the tale was. I know you need to find lotsa cash, before your rival does, and also before an imminent demolition in 1 hour. The make-believe story was at most semi-logical, and not critical to game play. Casino Heist--the title is all you really need.
Production value wise, sadly, Casino took a major hit, especially by 2019 standards. This isn't a big time, Vegas caliber playground. It's more in tune with a small-scaled, local, almost mom-and-pop underground (both figuratively and literally) gambling site... if such a place exists. But hey, it's being demolished for a reason, right? Maybe it's because it's outdated! Har har. ...In short, there're plenty of improvement opportunities for sprucing up.
Fortunately, the truly enjoyable puzzles, which are the meat that audience comes for, securely reeled me back in the game's favor. The most elaborately furnished and decorated portion of the game, the very first scene, where players got to actually "gamble" on the casino ground, was a real treat. A handful of signature, classic chance game was featured, with each playing a unique role for game advancement.
What I appreciated most was the incorporation of real, natural motion of gambling in the process of figuring out the challenge solutions. It just felt so organic and intuitive, something highly deserving of praise. The elegance and simplicity of actual inclusion of playing the table games, instead of forcing a particular puzzle onto a somewhat casino-like scenario, was what made this experience memorable, and dare I say, even superior to some newcomers' game design.
The rest of the room was decent, avoided unnecessary use of lock & key unless when narrative-driven, and turned out to be overall quite the sweet surprise, considering how long this room's debuted, and how little the latter parts' been spoiled within the escape room community.
Casino Heist is 100% doable with just 2, solo even, I think. My partner and I finished in 35 minutes with 1 hint, a sore spot in my ego due to one seemingly relevant, borderline cruel red herring. (Darn you, prop in question!) That aside, Casino Heist proved to be still a dynamite option on the 60Out roster, with puzzles straightforward enough even for beginners. Nevertheless, I, an "expert" player, still found it very darling.
Stay tuned for an updated review on The Mystery of Senator Payne. Until then ;)
- FOOTNOTES -
Due to text limit, this review is possibly condensed. DM me for more detailed insights, game recommendations, or just to get in touch!