Deckscape: Heist in Venice is the third in the line of escape room style games from publisher DV Giochi. The first game Deckscape: Test Time, and the follow up, Fates of London were both games we enjoyed.
In general, we find that the Deckscape games are a little more accessible than most escape room titles. All you need is a pen and paper, no apps or scissors, like Unlock or EXIT! Deckscape uses a single deck of cards to deliver a 60 minute escape room in a box. The box is pocket-sized, making it great for travelling, or posting onto a friend once you are finished.
The gameplay in Deckscape games is incredibly simple. At the start of the game you have a deck of cards set-up in numerical order. The first handful of cards will guide you through how to play the game, but in essence you look at the top card of the deck and attempt to solve the puzzle on it. Once everyone in your group has agreed on an answer you flip the card which will tell you what the right answer was and how you should have worked it out.
The game will ask you to mark crosses on a piece of paper if you were wrong, but either way you move onto the next card and the game continues. At some points during the game you may be asked to split the deck into multiple piles representing different rooms or puzzles you can do at the same time.
As you reach the end of the deck you will find yourself facing a final, difficult puzzle to solve. At the end of that your score will be evaluated in how you did based on your ability to solve the final puzzle, the number of mistakes you made along the way and the time taken. Each evaluation comes with a slightly different story ending too.
Amy’s Final Thoughts
Deckscape is by far the most accessible series of escape room games. You don’t need an app, any fancy puzzle pieces or to tear up components, all you need is a pen, paper and a stopwatch. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t provide a satisfying experience. While the Deckscape series is on the easier end of the spectrum, there are plenty of puzzles to keep you thinking and enough different approaches that everyone should find some puzzles that they really click with. To top this off, Heist In Venice introduces characters; each player will be one (or more) characters and on the back of their character card they will have some clues that only they will be able to look at. This further ensures that everyone gets their chance to shine throughout the game.
One of the most elegant parts of the Deckscape series is that making a mistake still progresses the game, in other escape room games you can be stuck on a puzzle and have to resort to their clue system which takes time, takes you out of the game and makes you feel stupid. With Deckscape you give the puzzles your best shot and if you make a mistake, so what, you still get to carry on enjoying the game like nothing happened.
There is precious little more I can say about Heist in Venice without starting to spoil some of the puzzles or the storyline. Suffice to say it is the most enjoyable of the Deckscape series so far and a game which I only wish I could play again. While some people might find it a little easy compared to its rivals on the market, it makes up for this by being highly accessible and doing a great job of getting your group to pull together rather than fight over the one puzzle you can solve at any one time.
Fiona’s Final Thoughts
Deckscape doesn’t provide my most memorable Escape Room in a Box experiences, but it does a great job with minimal components and a simple concept. The puzzles are simpler than we have found in EXIT and that’s honestly how I like it – I want the escape room to make me feel smart, not stupid! Heist in Venice had some definite a-ha moments where something just clicked for us – it didn’t feel too easy, it just felt manageable.
Heist in Venice delivered a more story-driven experience than I’ve seen in previous Deckscapes or other escape room board games, which had you working through all the stages of a Casino Heist. The only drawback was that the story didn’t develop during the game, it was all delivered to you at the start. At the start of the game you’re given a briefing on how the heist will go down, as well as a map. Once you’ve seen this, you’re asked to put it back in the box and remember the information. There isn’t a lot of important information, but without some of it, you’ll find the puzzles quite challenging.
With Heist in Venice I was happy to see that the game still split into three branching paths, which means that the experience is well suited to more people because you don’t all need to gather round one clue at a time. In addition, what Heist in Venice did differently was to give you six different characters in the box, each of whom had different specialist knowledge that came into effect for different puzzles. With two players, we took three characters each, but you could play with up to six players and all feel like you had something important to contribute.