Sherlocked – The Vault [Review]

It’s like a movie.

Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Date played: May 7, 2017

Team size: 4-6; we recommend 4

Duration: 90 minutes

Price: €139 per team

Story & setting

The Vault was a cinema-style heist adventure that began in a parking garage and led us through a series of different sets staged within the Beurs van Berlage.

There was some set design, but for the most part, Sherlocked made use of the beautiful building that they call home.

In-game: A beautiful brick stairwell in the Beurs van Berlage.

Puzzles

More adventure than puzzle game, The Vault was all about the experience. That isn’t to say that it lacked challenge, as only 8% of teams had escaped as of the date that we played.

The sheer size and scale made it hard to find what was relevant within The Vault. Therein lay the difficulty.

Standouts

It was a brilliant setup to begin the The Vault off-site, creating the illusion of breaking in.

In-game: A photo of the Q Park garage where we began the game.

A coherent (and a little over-the-top) narrative permeated the entire 90-minute experience.

The gamemastering fit the story. Calling for hints never disrupted the narrative.

The building was incredible and well-used.

Limited use of an in-game actor heightened the thrill of the adventure.

Shortcomings

There were two or three moments in this room escape that were difficult to start in on because of the size of the space and limited cluing. I would have preferred if these were clued better and there were a couple of extra puzzles to fill the time.

The Vault contained a safe that was nearly a century old. The door was heavy and it seemed to vacuum shut. We had to throw a ton of physical effort into opening that door. I have to imagine that there are non-destructive ways in which Sherlocked could equalize the pressure (maybe even hiding a bottle of seltzer behind a false back for time-released CO2?).

Should I play Sherlocked’s The Vault?

If you are in Amsterdam, have legs, and they work reasonably well… then yes, you should play Sherlocked’s The Vault.

I’m being slightly hyperbolic. The Vault was an incredibly fun game, but there are a few things about it that might be off-putting to some players:

  • It’s not puzzley; The Vault is about the experience and adventure.
  • It has an actor. The role is limited, but important. If you hate actors in your escape rooms, this might be a deal breaker. I can promise, however, that the role doesn’t feature prominently throughout most of the escape room.
  • You need to have a base level of movement and fitness to play The Vault. It’s not a physically taxing game, but there are stairs, and at least one player on the team will have to crawl.
  • At least one player on the team will need a cell phone that can receive text messages in The Netherlands.

Of the many heists I’ve played, none of them has captured that Hollywood-heist feel like Sherlocked’s The Vault did. If that appeals to you even a little bit, then this is a must-play game.

Book your hour with Sherlocked’s The Vault, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Sherlocked provided media discounted tickets for this game.

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