The Heist is the first real must-have puzzle collection on the iPhone

Puzzle compilations are a dime a dozen on the App Store. For every Angry Birds or Cut the Rope that hits the market, there must be a hundred simple puzzle packages out there. As such, it’s pretty much impossible for any of them to stand out, let alone climb to the top of the sales list. But The Heist has managed to do just that, and with good reason.

Masquerading as a series of challenges you’ll need to complete to bust the locks on a vault, The Heist offers a collection of 60 puzzles broken down into four collections of 15, with each collection representing a single puzzle type. In the first you’ll be sliding wooden blocks around to clear a path for an electrical tube to reach its socket. In the next you’ll laying down runes in an attempt to make a pattern where no two symbols appear in the same row, quite like Sudoku. The third is a tribute to the classic box-pushing series, Sokoban (Boxxle in the US) and the fourth plays like a cross between a sliding puzzle and Pipe Mania, as you slide puzzle pieces around to create a circuit.

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As you can see, The Heist takes no shame in the old adage “there’s nothing new under the sun.”

But what it lacks in originality, The Heist makes up for in sheer execution. The puzzles themselves are supremely challenging. After the first few ease you into each concept, The Heist is quick to throw some pretty hefty head-scratchers your way. 60 puzzles may not sound like a lot for an iPhone game nowadays, but considering how difficult some of these can be, you’ll find yourself sinking a considerable amount of time into this one.

The other thing The Heist has going for it is its presentation. Not only do all the puzzles look slick, but the game offers a simple yet effective trick to get you sucked right into the game world. As you progress through the game, you’ll receive calls from an in-game character named Sophia – real actual telephone calls.

Ok, maybe “real” is overselling it, but The Heist presents Sophia’s calls as if they were real incoming calls to your iPhone, complete with the proper visuals, ringtones and everything. The first time it happened I actually thought I was receiving a real call from a wrong number. To listen to Sophia, you’ll need to put your ear up to the phone like in a genuine phone conversation – its genius, and a shame that more games don’t do this sort of thing.

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In addition to everything else The Heist has going for it, it turns out there’s a real world prize in that vault. Let’s be clear here – we’re talking real real, not “Sophia” real. Most Mac users are probably familiar with MacHeist, a semi-regular event in which select software is made available free (or at a discount) to those who complete a series of challenges. It should come as no surprise then that since the folks behind MacHeist are also responsible for The Heist that there should be goodies involved to those who can crack the vault. As of this writing, the prize inside is still a secret to all.

Thanks to some super-challenging puzzles, unique presentation elements, and the tease of a possible prize for those who see all 60 levels through to the end, The Heist manages to take a number of old elements and turn them into something compelling. As much as I love sokoban and sliding puzzles, I never would have thought I’d live to see the day where a compilation like this would be a must-own title – and yet that’s exactly what The Heist is. Puzzle fans everywhere, be sure to pick this one up.