Game Website | Company Website | Based In: Amsterdam, Netherlands
💪 Difficulty: Not specified, recommended for age 12 and up.
⏲️ Time duration: 80 minutes limit.
🔢 Capacity: Accommodates 2-6 players. Private booking.
📝 Careful--note potential time difference between your location and the host's when booking.
🛒 If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
TL;DR... THE QUICK VERSION
➲ Premise: Infiltrate a well guarded vault building complex and steal "The Source" from a heavily protected safe.
➲ The original in-person "The Vault" is an immersion-heavy heist quest featuring a genuine basement play area.
➲ Best described as an avatar-led, half immersive experience, half escape game, hybrid entertainment.
➲ The first half of the experience is tech and communication heavy, focusing on infiltration and bypassing security.
➲ The second half is more in tune with a traditional escape room play, with actual puzzles to solve.
➲ At its current state, it's lighter on mental or thought-based puzzles, and highly suitable for beginner crowds.
➲ 𝙀𝙎𝘾𝘼𝙋𝙀 𝙈𝘼𝙏𝙏𝙎𝙏𝙀𝙍 🙂 subjective rating: 💪 2 to 3/10 difficulty (team of 4), 🔢 ideal team size of 3 to 4.
Form a team of highly skilled thieves to steal a mysterious object from a heavily protected safe. Don’t be fooled: while it’s a century old safe-complex: its security system is state of the art. Should you get caught, we will deny any knowledge of this operation. (You can now play our immersive heist adventure from home, from anywhere in the world! We’ve converted the award-winning escape room experience The Vault into a riveting online adventure and the reactions of the first players were amazing.)
THE UNABRIDGED EDITION
In the global escape room and immersive experience industry, Amsterdam is often regarded as the home to some of the world's best live escape entertainment. These games tend to heavily focus on immersion, often transporting players to a whole another world with their incredible "sets" (I'll explain why it's in quotes later). "The Vault" from Sherlocked Mystery Experiences is one such highly-rated options the city has to offer.
"The Vault" has one mission: to retrieve a valuable object known as "The Source" from a highly secure vault complex. The Source is a classified project dated back to late 1890s, aimed to create an unending energy source, hence the code name. Pre-game email briefing, though technically optional reading, provides a rich background and primes participants to be furthermore immersed--there goes that key word again--from the very moment they check in.
What sets "Vault" apart is its physical setting. When they say you are about to infiltrate a vault complex, they really mean it. This is not a vault set. It is not constructed for the purpose of the game. Rather, it's the opposite. The building, and the massive underground vault area--they already exist. It is the story, the puzzles, and the experience that are injected into the location. No wonder it looks and feels so immersive and real--because it literally is real.
So that's "The Vault" in-person play in a nutshell; how would "The Vault Online" fare under remote circumstances?
Gordon (and maybe Liz Too) stroking his (their) beard while the intro video clip plays
First, some logistics: This remote escape game takes place not over Zoom, but instead broadcast live in a web browser through Whereby.com. However, it does require Whatsapp and telephone for live communication, both required for game play. I would highly recommend everyone to prepare ahead of time to ensure a smooth and enjoyable session. You need to: 1) be able to add new user, view user profile, and text on Whatsapp, and 2) be able to make a long-distance phone call to Amsterdam, if you live overseas. (It'd be a good idea to check your long-distance call rates, just in case.)
"The Vault Online" starts off with your on-site agent, Alpha (aka your avatar), traversing across the streets of Amsterdam in a colorful, but pre-recorded cinematic opening video, which then leads the players directly in front of an entry gate. Logically, the first portion of the experience is targeted at infiltration; you'll need to either evade, overcome, or even neutralize layers of security surveillance before even attempting the main event.
Continuing with the goal of immersing the patrons in the story universe, the game designers implement tasks like phone calls, Whatsapp messages, and even email hacking (all in real time) to maximize player interaction and to really showcase a players-driven experience. The security guard onscreen can be distracted by many possible distractions, however creative you want it to be. You want to tell him his pizza delivery is at the front door? Go on ahead! You have that power!
With the above, the pro is a highly variable and memorable experience unique to each booking, but there are also cons: For instance, in each team, there is only one main Whatsapp communicator role, and since the exchange will only appear on that particular player's device, the immersion effect will not be shared among everyone. In addition, with my ridiculous incompetence, I actually got locked out the email account I was trying to hack into, thereby instilling a sense of failure in my whole being and granting me plenty of dead time to question my value as a team member and life choices in general.
Overall, the first portion as fantastic in theory, great effort put in, but the finer details may need a bit ironing out.
Mattster and TheHauntGirl looking surprisingly apathetic over Guard Sleepyhead
The latter portion of the game consists of actually breaking into the vault area and locating the elusive Source, and is generally a more traditional escape room experience with exploration, finding items, and solving puzzles. Being an escape room enthusiast and an avid lover of conquering brainteasers, this is my preferred section of the experience.
Nonetheless, because the original in-person "Vault" experience is designed to be exceptionally immersion-dominant, a large fraction of the challenges are more of the physical task variety, and less reliant on mental thought process--which makes sense in the context of pulling off an authentic heist in an authentic basement, though also tougher to translate effectively online. This manifests most apparently during the laser field sequence, which is understandably substituted by seamless but pre-recorded footage: still moderately fun to watch, but infinitely more fun had I been there myself.
Of the remaining roster of puzzles, it leans on the easy side, and it mainly involves following lightly veiled directions and searching for keys and combo codes. And though the puzzles are not as strongly written as I usually prefer, they do look visually interesting, with one particular room making a lasting impression with what looks like a few hundreds hanging... *ahem*. (No spoiler here!) The mechanism of the solution reveal of this particular setup is also highly reminiscent of one certain Japanese arcade machine, making this my biased and favorite moment of the entire game.
One major silver lining is that, the flow of the game is beautifully organized in its original form, and it naturally presents many points of opportunity to tweak and improve puzzle quality. If each existent challenge can correspondingly level up in difficulty, and perhaps add in 1 or 2 more new challenges to the mix, I imagine the end result would a welcoming upgrade fitting for an even wider audience, captivating the attention of both novice and advanced demographics.
It was never an easy feat to convert a well-received albeit meant-for-in-person adventure to a livestream remote equivalent; and "The Vault Online" will probably continue to fine tune and improve its operation due to this brand new web-based modality. Nevertheless, for those who have no immediate plans to visit Amsterdam in the near future, this limited engagement of virtual play offers a rare chance to experience something fascinating without leaving home.
And for a homebody like me, that's always a plus.
READY FOR FUN?
"The Vault Online" is available for booking HERE.
If you BOOK due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout-out! ;)
⤻ Full disclosure: Complimentary game access was generously provided for review purposes.
⤻ All media credited to and provided by contents owners. No copyright infringement intended. ⤻ Speed code for on-site search: SLVault