For fans of mock sleuthing and good-natured detective work, the folks over at MacHeist have been running clever “games” for years in an effort to offer Mac users a more engaging way to take advantage of software bundle deals, discounts, etc. These challenges are not easy, but there are always generous rewards awaiting those wily folks who make it through.
After all this time, it should come as no surprise that they’ve turned some of their attention over to the mobile world, and their first venture is hardly a modest experiment: The Heist is a thoroughly entertaining and well-polished puzzle game with a prize at the end. Read on to unlock our (spoiler-free) review!
Almost immediately upon opening the game, you receive a mysterious phone call from “Sophia” — fans of the online experiences will recall this name. This unexpected communication reveals that there is something of value to be had behind the walls of the safe you see in front of you…
What exactly that is, you’ll have to see for yourself, though it’s safe to say that the prize is a Steam code for a game worth ten times more than what you will have paid for The Heist, which is a pretty sweet deal no matter how you look at it. Of course, you’ll have to work for it, and these puzzles are no walk in the park. There are 4 puzzle types, and several difficulty levels. In order to unlock the safe, you must disable 4 levels of security, represented by locks on the side of the door. Each level you disable unlocks a new difficulty level for the puzzles.
In the Woodwork
The first of the puzzle types requires you plug a bulb into its socket by first clearing a path for it through a room of wooden pegs. This is easier said than done, as the pegs eventually get fiendishly tangled and will likely take you several tries to work out.
There are several maneuvers that you’ll have to perform that begin to feel familiar, so once you work out the basic patterns, even the harder puzzles of this type become slightly more accessible. But if you get stuck, you have plenty of other options to keep you occupied…
For instance, take The Heist’s brilliant second puzzle type: an intelligent modification of the basic Sudoku game model that requires you to fill in a board with small stones bearing various symbols such that no two symbols occur together on the same line — vertically or horizontally. The pieces are also coloured, and each colour group has only one of each symbol type. This can get tricky enough when you’re just using numbers and a standard grid, but The Heist mixes it up with symbols ranging from Zodiac markers to Egyptian hieroglyphs and irregular colour group shapes.
This is probably the most creative and fresh of the puzzle types, but since it’s ultimately based on math, it’s also the easiest to solve if you have the patience to work things out. Then again, you could also just throw things out there by trial and error and eventually crack each, but it’s not the most efficient approach.
The third puzzle type in The Heist is a pretty straight-forward one. Controlling a little robot, your job is to push several boxes into their corresponding sockets so that each one is plugged in. The fact that they’re not colour-coded makes this a fairly simple task for most levels, though you might have to bend your brain a bit to figure out the correct paths for some of the later levels.
The final puzzle type is a connect-the-wires game. This may be the most difficult of the four types of puzzles, unless you’re used to Rubik’s Cubes and other similar games that hone your ability to solve spatial entanglements. When you begin dealing with multiple colours, it becomes especially frustrating since you’ll often manage to get one properly connected only to realize that you have to undo several portions in order to fix another colour.
Safe & Sound
Even the best of puzzle mechanics fall flat without a good presentation, and the wise MacHeist team appealed to the master iOS architects at TapTapTap to execute their vision. Esteemed developers of Camera+ and Classics, TapTapTap have outdone themselves here, providing a sleek visual design with smooth animations, very detailed graphics, and a fitting audio treatment.
Their attention to detail has helped wrap the puzzles in a package that feels like a complete and self-sufficient game rather than a cheap marketing toy.
The Heist has been an extraordinary success so far, largely due to its business model that in itself is a terrific change from the flood of micropayment games where we’re stuck paying more and more for less and less. That being said, the one concern that holds The Heist back from a perfect score is the issue of longevity…once you’ve beaten all 60 levels, unlocked the prize, and won the achievements, what is there left to look forward to?
It will be interesting to see if MacHeist chooses to continue along this path by offering each new challenge as a separate game, or if they’ll handle it by releasing each new challenge as a free update to this one (unlikely).
Time will tell, and we will be eagerly awaiting the result! Have you made it through to the end yet? Still stuck on a level? Let us know in the comments!