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The Heist Review: A puzzling vault robbery

Anyone who has been playing iPhone games for awhile knows that casual games are a strength for the platform. How else do you explain the games that have persistently stayed at the top of the charts over the years? Fully recognizing the fact that we love to whip out our phones and just spend a few moments with a game, developer tap tap tap / MacHeist has figured out a great way to package an assortment of puzzles into one cohesive game with The Heist The Heist - tap tap tap. It’s casual; it’s challenging; there’s a worthwhile story; and oh, there’s even a prize at the end! Clearly, the plan for this particular heist was nearly flawless.

The game opens in a manner that is sure to get your attention. Meet Sophia. She is your accomplice in this vault job, and throughout your progression in The Heist you’ll receive phone calls from her, in which she updates you on your progress. This might sound run-of-the-mill, but MacHeist went ahead and made these phone calls very realistic, as you receive Sophia’s calls just like you would any other real-life call. You even have to hit speaker if you don’t want to hold the iPhone up to your ear as you listen to a fictional character clue you in on what comes next.

The basic gist of what Sophia has to say? Well, there’s this vault, and it’s locked down with several different security systems. To hack through them all and find what’s inside, you’ll have to complete an assortment of puzzles. There are four different types, and 15 stages in each set. If you choose to accept this mission, prepare to have your mind bent.

The best way to understand the challenging aspect of The Heist is to actually get your hands on the game. Words will probably come up short when trying to describe the frustration you’ll feel at some points, and then the sheer satisfaction that arrives when you actually solve a puzzle. While each set of challenges presents a spatial arrangement puzzle, they each have their own unique twist. In one, you’ll by sliding around wooden blocks as you attempt to clear a path so that a module can be slid out of the box, while another has you moving tiles around as you try to connect some wires. There is also a Sudoku-style puzzle which has you working with pebbles that have shapes etched on them. But my favorite would have to be the game in which you take control of a little robot as he nudges power units across a grid—a grid in which it’s very easy to become trapped.

As you complete the stages, a meter will be filled at the home screen. Each time the blue bar reaches the end of the meter, one of the vault’s security systems gets shut down. It’s also at these times that you can expect another call from Sophia—which, for some reason, are way more exciting than they should be…

At it’s heart, The Heist is just 60 puzzles for a buck. If you had to find a flaw, then it could be said that the game is on the short side. But when you wrap the puzzles that are here in such a stylized package and even assemble a story around them, than those buying the app for 99 cents end up feeling like they’re getting away with their own robbery… MacHeist did an excellent job of bringing this game to the iPhone, and we should be especially appreciative of the bonus prize that comes if you’re able to reach the end of the game. No spoilers here, but anyone with a passing interest in gaming should see it through to completion… And for a word of warning—don’t get too wrapped up in the personal time with Sophia. She’s not real guys… She’s not real.

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