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.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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!