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Review: Vault 17 - Time Race, Bury

Room Story - from Time Race

Escape the nuclear fallout shelter, before the power fails forever.



Key Stats

Room NameVault 17
VenueTime Race
LocationBury, UK
Date04/11/2018
Escape Time49:05
Team Size3
My Recommended Team Size3 - 5

Review

We’ve always given Vault 17 a miss as we’d heard many reviews about the room being impossible to escape from. Many reviewers commented on the red herrings and deliberately misleading puzzles that unfairly prevented the most seasoned escapees from escaping. However, Time Race is now under new ownership and the new owners have reworked the game. We obviously can’t fully compare our experience to the original game as we never played it, but based on what I’ve read the game seems to have changed significantly. It’s a fun, excellently themed and really immersive experience that we’d definitely recommend.

The premise of Vault 17 is quite simple. You’ve been living safely underground in a nuclear fallout shelter, but the power is now failing. You’ve got 60 minutes to escape to the unknown above ground before you're trapped in the vault forever. For those familiar with the games, you’ll probably notice a vague resemblance to the Fallout series. There are many elements of the game that strengthen that resemblance, so it’s definitely one for fans of the game.

The game starts at the entrance/reception area of the shelter. You have to work your way through various rooms in the shelter, unlocking solid metal blast doors on your way, to reach the exit. The theming of the room is excellent. It’s sparse, cold and musty. Everything is concrete and metal. The bare essentials to preserve life are present. You can tell that all of these decisions are deliberate to create an immersive space.

Central to that immersion is the AI computer system, Lex, that controls the vault. You can ask Lex for clues and you interact with him as part of various puzzles throughout the game. The AI uses a computer-generated voice that is really well executed and fun to interact with. The AI even has empathy, checking on the well-being of one of the team who accidentally banged their head on a shelf!

One of the real strengths of this game is the use of space. It’s one of the most expansive games we’ve played, with a variety of different types of spaces to explore. It’s this space that makes the experience feel very real.

The puzzles are all well integrated into the theme of the room, with lots of linear puzzles that interact with the vaults systems to power and open devices throughout the game. There are very few padlocks in the game and I feel that this was the right decision to fit the room’s theme. There’s nothing particularly new or innovative in terms of puzzles, but we felt that they were all very well put together with clear clues and information to solve them. Some games can be very ambiguous, but we consistently found this game to be very clear and logical.

When we finally reached the exit, there was a satisfying sequence where the final door unlocks. It sounds like a small thing, but the way the unlock is performed is completely on theme and clearly signals the end of the game.

We really enjoyed Vault 17. Every now and again there are games that you just “get” where everything feels logical and you can work out the answers you need quickly. This was one of those games for us. It's a really immersive experience with great theming, sound and clue system. It tries to avoid some of the standard escape room tropes and I believe it does succeed.

The team were Becky, Beth and Daniel.

Ratings


Overall An immersive room with an exciting variety of different spaces and lots of puzzles woven well into the theme of the room. It’s a game that flows well and never tries to trick you, a real fun one to play. 
Difficulty We found the game really logical and straightforward. You’re never blinded by objects, everything you need to solve the puzzle is clearly presented. 
Fun We really enjoyed the game. Sometimes we find games too difficult a little less enjoyable, but this game really hit the sweet spot for difficulty and when combined with the great theming it made for a really fun game. 
Puzzles The puzzles all fit perfectly into the nuclear shelter theming of the game and were good fun to solve. You frequently interact with the shelter’s AI computer system, Lex, both for clues and solving puzzles. This mechanism worked well and eradicated the need for many padlocks. 
Immersion It’s a very immersive experience. The theming, set quality, music, sounds and clue system all combine to give a realistic feeling experience. 
Surprises The key surprises for us were around the vast amount of space in the game that you continue to uncover as you explore. 

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