PuzzleWorks – The Vault [Review]

“I am a Prince and I would like to give you my fortune in exchange for your social security number and some puzzles.”

Location: St Paul, Minnesota

Date played: August 20, 2017

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket, $25.64 per student ticket

Story & setting

The emails were true! The exiled Prince of Yurgmurgistan really did need our help proving his birthright. If we could break into the National Bank of Yurgmurgistan and steal back his most prized possession, he pinky swore that he would shower us in money.

Staged in the National Bank of Yurgmurgistan, The Vault looked incredibly bank-like… which was to say a bit drab except for the large vault door. Beyond the massive metal enclosure, we found things to be far more surprising.

In-game: A cash register in the foreground of the bank set, a massive metal vault door in the background.

Puzzles

The Vault was a deeply puzzle-focused escape game. Initially the puzzles felt typically escape room-esque. As the The Vault progressed, however, the puzzling became increasingly more tangible, grand, and creative.

Standouts

The second half of The Vault was exceptional: both the set and the puzzles, as well as their integration, were entertaining and innovative.

As a result of many design decisions, The Vault usually had at least two puzzling opportunities available at any given time. Most of these could engage at least 2 players. The Vault occupied our team of 5 people from start to finish.

This room escape was pretty damn funny.

In-game: The wall sign for the Yurgmurgistan Nurgunal Burg.
PuzzleWorks committed to the gag.

Shortcomings

We didn’t enjoy one early puzzle and we were thrilled to stumble upon the solution.

I know that Minnesota is inhabited by the gigantic descendants of Vikings, but there were a number of key interactions that would be difficult for shorter players to execute.

One of the most brilliant puzzle/ setpieces in The Vault was also difficult to manipulate. This was clearly a tradeoff that resulted from the PuzzleWorks’ creative direction, but it was cumbersome nonetheless.

Should I play PuzzleWorks’ The Vault?

I loved this escape room; I don’t say that often.

The puzzle flow and gameplay were fantastic.

The set started a little drab, but that changed in the later half of the experience.

The level of creativity in The Vault was phenomenal. PuzzleWorks brilliantly and creatively spun the traditional bank heist escape room story… and simultaneously made it funny.

The Vault was a challenging escape room. I don’t recommend that newbies dive in here because if they are focused on basic escape room how-to, they will miss what makes this The Vault special. It’s doable for first-timers, but they will need help.

That being said, The Vault is a must-play for experienced room escapers. It’s smart. It’s strange. It’s fun. It’s funny. Go see for yourself.

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

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

 

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