Clue HQ The Vault – now for something completely different

VaultDoor - Promo

On our first visit to Clue HQ, we’d had a fairly long chat with the team after we’d played the excellent Bunker 38 and truly epic Dungeon of Doom. We were just generically chatting about what sort of rooms we’d like to design/play, and one that we’d come up with was a dual purpose mission, something along the lines of robbing a bank and then escaping, therefore evolving the simple escape room premise of actually getting out, to adding in a side mission, ie in the case of a bank robbery, getting as much money as you can. It was at this point, with the Clue HQ team exchanging looks, that we may have figured that they had already started building their 3rd room, The Vault.

Image 7 -vault

The game briefing for the Vault is as follows:

You and your friends recently went to a casino owned by The National Bank of Money. They’ve been accused in the past of fixing machines and cheating in order to give the house a higher advantage then usual. They stole your money – and you want it back. The casino keeps all of it’s equipment and casino chips in The National Bank of Money’s vault. Mid-break in the security system comes back to life. You’ve one hour to grab as much cash (in casino chips) as possible, and escape. Can you grab the most cash?

To clean out the vault, you need to do some research at www.nationalbankofmoney.co.uk

This adds to the game, by knowing that you have to find clues/codes etc in advance in order to gain access to otherwise unobtainable casino chips. as usual for Clue HQ, they’ve thrown in a hell of a lot of information to both help and hinder the finding of these codes. Joobs in particular did a lot of work checking and re-checking all possible combinations of codes, and when we turned up to play on the 1st March, she had a veritable fountain of notes for us to consume!! After our failure to escape during our previous visit we thought it wise to have the full team unite for this challenge.

Image 6

The apparent structure of the game seems straightforward. Break into the Vault, take all the money you can, then leave the Vault. but as we are beginning to realise things are never that simple when Clue HQ are involved.The start of the game gives you a clear flow in order to break into the Vault. How this is verbally and visually presented is fantastic, and it instantly gets you into character and right into playing the game. As you enter the room you are told that there is a total of £10 million of casino chips ready and waiting to be snagged and provided with a swag bag to keep them in. As you are locked in your host’s final words echo in your head… every member of the team must be out of the room to escape and only chips in the swag bag count towards your total…

The really enjoyable part of the Vault overall is that there’s so much to keep you busy, buttons to press, riddles to solve that are only solvable in a certain order, things to move, and most importantly of all, it ensures that team members must work together in order to proceed. One part in particular ( those who have played or will play it will know what I’m talking about here, but it will give away a big part if I talk specifics) took a while for the team to effectively communicate what was needed, and was just bloody good fun!

Image 5 - vault

The game continued to flow very well, and soon enough we were in the Vault itself. Wow, it was a maze! We obviously can’t give a thing away here so not to spoil for others, but there was so much to do! It kept a quality and experienced team of escape room players very busy indeed! We did manage to get the final door open with about 7 minutes to spare, at this point we wedged the door open and left our swag bag right next to the exit (no way we were going to leave that behind in the excitement) and then spent the next 6 minutes and 50 seconds hunting for the jackpots the room has one Main Jackpot which stares you right in the face behind a glass cabinet as soon as you enter. Such a cruel tease! And a Mini Jackpot which is hidden somewhere in the room. so as the time ticked away we frantically tore the room apart in hope that we would stumble across either. We had 1 code we had found in the room that would not work anywhere, and afterwards we found out this was for an item that had been broken by the previous inhabitants of the room! We were additionally awarded those chips as we could show we knew how to get them! We also had a couple of casino chips that again, were stuck and not obtainable from a couple of puzzles. These were both extremely minor negatives. We had everything totalled up and we had escaped with…

the vault pic

A total of £6m! At the time of play, this was joint top of the standings, and 6 weeks later, it is still joint 2nd. The £4m remaining is compromised of the 2 jackpots! Since the game has started, not one group has found correct way to open the padlock securing the main Jackpot, and according to Clue HQ only a handful of staff know how to open it!! Joobs spent the best part of a week constantly emailing begging for clues and trying to guess where the code was hidden and they still wouldn’t give anything away! kudos to them she can be quite “persuasive”… as for the Mini Jackpot at the time of writing this only one team had managed to find it.

vault leaderboard

The Vault is nothing short of epic. There’s so much to do, and you get an hour to play, even if you get the final door unlocked earlier! The puzzles are so varied, but every single one is tied in to the game scenario itself unlike some games where you find yourself solving puzzles that make no sense to the story just for the sake of it. With every puzzle solved, you get a true feeling of accomplishment (and normally a handful of chips) which obviously sends you on the way towards your final goal.

A huge congratulations to Stuart and the team at Clue HQ. The Vault, as previously mentioned, is something we’d thought of to play, and they had managed to successfully exceed our expectations, and I’d be fairly certain, will exceed it for all!

Advertisements

Did we Infiltrate Breakout Manchester successfully?

infiltrate

We have a bit of a soft spot for breakout Manchester (they say you never forget your first) so when we heard they had a brand new room for us to sink our teeth into we couldn’t book in quick enough!

Although thanks to the online banter between us and the constant reminders and teasing from Joobs that we beat their record at Escape Quest, we made sure we had our full team reunited again for the challenge as we already knew we weren’t getting any hints!

The description gave away no clues, we entered the room not knowing what to expect wondering how the “interview” would go and how it would affect our escape…  it added an element of the unexpected which is normally lacking after you’ve experienced a few games. We were also wondering how they had managed to open up another room in the space they had, as we’d believed that they’d maximised what they had available…

“You are interviewing one of the most dangerous criminal ever to have walked the planet in a maximum security ward. You believe this person may hold the answer to one of the greatest crimes ever committed. You have 60 minutes to interview the prisoner before the guards arrive. Can you extract the information from him in time?”

If we say anything more about the story from then on, it will spoil the surprise, so the story itself you’ll have to find out for yourself. The puzzles were pretty varied, and one in particular completely stumped us for 20 mins, even with hints! It was something we’d not come across before, an actual video clue, but we just couldn’t figure it out!! We also missed the most obvious clue in the history of escape games, and was one we’ve come across before ( and we STILL missed it!), and when we’d come to a particular point, we couldn’t go onwards without it. We literally had to step back into the corners of the room until we spotted it!! We did manage to thoroughly destroy the room as usual ( just a pre-emptive warning for anywhere we’re going soon).. We had a nail biting finish to the game, with just one clue left to solve and one safe to open (which we were pretty sure was going to give us the exit key) And only 8 mins left on the clock, We had managed to lock ourselves out of the safe… We had to wait 5 whole minutes for it to reset ( the longest 5 minutes ever!!) so we moved the safe as close as possible to the door crossed our fingers and hoped that this was indeed the end and with nothing else left to do we started resetting the puzzles and cleaning up the destruction we had caused.  I wonder how many escape room teams would actually do that?

It’s fair to say this wasn’t the best of performances from us, but we did manage to escape with a paltry 3 minutes remaining. As Infiltrate is rightly ranked in terms of difficulty alongside their John Monroe game, even though we escaped, we knew we’d been fairly average in our efforts!! Alongside John Monroe, Infiltrate is an ideal starter game, but even as an experienced team, we nearly failed! So it is suitable for all!

After the game, as a very special treat ( as Joobs had provided Breakout with a completely written, thought out and planned escape room design), we were allowed for a quick glimpse “behind the scenes”, to see the other side so to speak ( or as some might term them, the enemy!). Joobs in particular had a good rummage ( she is way more into escape games than the rest of us, and that’s saying something!!).

Breakout as a team were again absolutely fantastic. Where their rooms may lack  in some of the more technical marvels that other rooms may provide, they ensure you have the best possible experience, from the moment you book, until the moment you get home, and in our case, way way beyond!

We are absolutely insane….

So yesterday saw us attempt something only the most dedicated of escape gamers or the clinically insane would want to attempt. I’m pretty sure we fit into both those categories…..

Anyway one of our crew reached a milestone age and what better way to celebrate than try to escape as many rooms as possible in 1 day?! To make it more fun he had absolutely no clue what we were planning.
It all started a few months ago when were trying to find a way to celebrate Adams 30th birthday. All we knew was that it had to be something epic. I can’t even remember what sparked the idea it may have even be a joke but it wasn’t long before we began planning it for real.
Having completed 90% of the rooms in the local area and what was left we wanted to save for when we had the full team together (sadly Leese was unable to join us for this) We had to look further afield.
Finding enough rooms close enough to each other was a bit of a logistical nightmare but with a bit of planning, and replanning we eventually settled on the following rooms: (we will do full reviews of all the rooms soon there’s way too much to say in one blog post)
The day was to start at The Great Escape Sheffield 10:30am
homicide
We took on their new Homicide room and made it out with just over a minute remaining on the clock.
great escape - homicide
mad scientist
Next up was The Mad Scientist thanks to a quick start we made it out with around 4 mins left to spare .
great escape - scientist
It was a great boost to our confidence and hoped that it set the tone for the rest of the day. They were extremely accommodating and helped us surprise Adam with his birthday cake during the game. We really loved their rooms, there is so much to say about them but it will have to wait for the full review. but they do have some amazing plans for the future!
cold-war-1
So after a quick look around we were onto Crack the Code for our 3rd room which was about a 10 min walk away. We were locked away for 1pm and felt all warmed up and ready to take on the task, and a quick chat with our host  revealed that they are a lot more puzzle based that some rooms out there, which was fine with us we tend to excel in these types of rooms. At this point we felt like we were in the zone and could defeat anything (not quite at escape Jedi status yet but we felt close)  and this was proven correct, when we tore through the room and totally smashed their previous record with a time of 37mins 52 seconds!!
CTCescape
So that was Sheffield completed Adam was pretty sure we were heading off for lunch, but nope we were off on a short trip up the M1 to Leeds.
Thankfully We arrived in Leeds with enough time to grab some lunch ( something we sort of had forgot to plan for oops)
Rooms 4 and 5 of the day were to be at Locked in games ….
girl-magnify-small
First up was the Classroom, and  I honestly feel we were at peak performance here, we ploughed through and came close to the record on minimal hints,  but towards the end signs of escape game fatigue were starting to show… over thinking a simple puzzle probably cost us our second record of the day.
locked in escape 1
nursery1-small
We had the option to dive straight into the Nursery which was next on the list but sensibly decided to take a 30 min break and give our brains a rest. The nursery is supposed to be a little easier than our previous room, but the mental assault our heads had taken over the previous 7hrs (yep it was now 5:30pm and yep we had no clue how it was so late) had taken its toll! clues got missed … but we still managed to get out!
locked in escape 2
Then comes our last minute addition to the day, during the planning process we found out that the unofficial record for number of rooms escaped in a day was 5… so obviously we had to add one more and there was only one place it could be! Back to our buddies at Breakout only this time visit their new Liverpool venue and take on the Shipwrecked room.
Shipwrecked-600x600
It was a 2 hour drive across the Pennines to get there and it was always a bit of a gamble for us that we would get there in time without hitting traffic… it was the one we were most nervous about and yes Adam honestly thought we were finished and heading out for dinner ( suggesting we try a couple of venues to beat the record), but we successfully put him off..
Luckily we got there nice and early and had time to share a few slices of pizza with the staff before we took on our final room, however, we knew by this time we were either going to be escaping machines capable of breaking the most difficult code by just looking at it or a total physical and emotional wreck. Well i’d like to think we weren’t quite wrecks but we definitely weren’t at the top of our game. Simple puzzles became quite hard, and what should have been an easy escape with at least 20 mins on the clock was a lot closer to the wire than that. We did however manage to escape and maintain our 100% record for the day.
breakout liverpool
All in all it was a fantastic experience! The venues were extremely accommodating putting up with our booking changes beforehand and looking after us on the day, and of course, we will post full reviews up soon. We were really impressed with the quality of the rooms and the puzzles we came across. Sadly due to the nature of the challenge we weren’t able to chat to everyone after the games as long as we would have liked. Being escape game geeks (Joobs more than the rest of us) its always nice to get to know our hosts and discuss puzzles and rooms and anything else related.
Many thanks to all the venues and staff we can’t wait to see what they have in store for the future although next time we may not try and do them all in one day!!