Good clean family fun, with a little extra for enthusiasts
Howdy partner! (in crime). You’ve been tasked with looting the bank for all you can. Your buddy on the inside, Jesse Roberts, has left you clues to break into the bank, open the vault and get out of there without leaving a trail. Be sure to grab as much money as you can, but whatever you do, make sure the sheriff don’t catch ya! Think you have what it takes?
It’s odd to me that somehow up until this day we hadn’t played a single game in Portsmouth, and I’m not sure why. We were on a road trip to a wedding so we made a detour to play a game we had been hearing a lot about, The Western Job by The Real Escape.
The venue was easy enough to find, and actually over the road from another escape room venue at Other World Escapes (who we will be playing at shortly). When we arrived we were greeted by our host, Vicky. She allowed us time to use the facilities and dump our belongings in the lockers, and then proceeded to play the safety briefing in the waiting area.
With the safety briefing out of the way, Vicky gave us a little bit of story before showing us into the room. When inside, a short video played explaining more of our mission, and when it ended our time began.
It’s odd, Liz and I aren’t big fans of ‘heist’ rooms, but as soon as you disguise it within another theme; temple heist, pirate booty heist, or in this case, wild west heist, it’s strangely acceptable to us. The Western Job had decent set dressing and a number of distinct spaces that helped to push the narrative and give a sense of progression.
Probably the thing we appreciated most in this game was the lighting. I can’t recall any point in the game where we struggled to see anything. Nothing worse than trying to enter a code in a padlock and you can’t even see the numbers! The other thing that we liked was that music was being played at all times. I hate it when you’re in the wild west and all you can hear is passing traffic or people chatting outside (goodbye immersion).
Another nice twist with this game is that it has two endings, and you can choose which one you want to do (when you get to that stage). One ending is ideal if you are running low on time. The other is good if you have some spare time and want to solve more puzzles (yes, we did the extra puzzles).
In terms of accessibility, it didn’t look like there would be any issues for those with limited mobility. The game all took place on one level and doorways etc seemed to be sufficiently wide.
The Western Job had a variety of puzzles that all fit the theme and nothing felt particularly out of place. Searching, observation, skill (maybe, I’m not sure but that’s what I’m classing it as), logic, and decoding all played a part.
One of the puzzles was good fun and I could see younger players thoroughly enjoying it, it’s just a shame that only one team member can really do it. The other puzzles were all satisfying to solve; well, all but one. One puzzle was very much a multi-step puzzle but it just felt like it went on for far too long for our liking, and in a bigger team I think there would be a lot of standing around waiting while others solved it.
I’m pretty sure this room would be close to impossible if there was nothing to write down notes on, especially for the multi-step puzzle, so we were very glad that notebook and paper were provided for that reason.
You can end this game at two different points, depending how much time you have and if you’re a completionist. The extra puzzles are arguably a step up from the others and probably geared towards enthusiasts a bit more – which we quite enjoyed.
The puzzles themselves generally resulted in codes for padlocks or they triggered some form or tech.
From what I recall we required a couple of clues in this room, simply because of observation/search fails. Right at the end of the game there was something we needed but couldn’t find it anywhere – turns out it was right in front of our faces! #Fail.
The clues were delivered on a TV screen in the room (as text) but also had an audible alert to notify us that it was there. Vicky never left us hanging for long when we needed the help, so that was nice. Nudges were also provided in character to get you back on track, and clues/nudges were unlimited.
The screen also displayed the timer so we knew how long we had left to make our escape!
I can see why people praise this game. It’s got good set design and the puzzles all make sense. The little ‘extra’ at the end also gives enthusiasts something to aim for, and I’m sure this would be a hit for players of all ages.
Team: 2 players (escaped with all the loot, within time)
Address: 257-259, Commercial Rd, Portsmouth PO1 4BP
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review