The Vault consists of two parts. The prologue takes place on players’ smartphones, and takes up the first 15-25% of the gameplay time (between 15-30 minutes). The second part is the real life adventure that’s set in the safe deposit complex of the Beurs van Berlage.
Sherlocked’s mission: to enchant the world around us, so that we may feel more enchantment within. That world around us may include all tools of storytelling, and we’re very excited that with The Vault, we’ve made our first cross-media adventure.
This is our first attempt to enrich our works in the physical space with the unique strengths of digital games, and even though its digital component is of modest size, we hope you’ll enjoy our effort to build a connected story across the realms of screen and space.
Carefully hidden beneath the old Amsterdam stock exchange building, lies a ancient, impenetrable safe. Its creation was commissioned over a century ago by four families that each had invested in the development of an energy source strong enough to power humanity for millenia. However, upon this Source’s realisation, the families couldn’t agree on what to do with this powerful object, and designed The Vault to keep it safe until they one day could.. This is where you come in. You’re going to help us, your contractor, steal the Source.
One of our tenets as experience designers, is realism. We want players to forget the rules and restrictions of the ordinary world, and become immersed, as much as healthily possible, in a magical narrative. As such, we invested quite heavily in the renting and especially renovation of the 120-year-old safes of the Beurs van Berlage, which hadn’t been in use since they were commandeered and brutally forced open by the Gestapo in the Second World War.
This location, while expensive, had the potential of fully immersing a team into the reality of a heist. However, these vaults came with a second, terrible disadvantage. The final safe, the ‘endboss’ of the game’s narrative, was insanely hard to open. No players would be able to open it within 10 minutes, even with clear instructions. And in a live game, 10 minutes focussing on 1 challenge is killing.
We had to find a way of teaching players how to open these antique kinds of locks, without making it feel like too much of a tutorial. So, we decided to make a tutorial, but disguise it as a bite-sized mini game that players, as well as interested outsiders, could just download for free on the App Store.
Towards the players, we actually use this ‘training in disguise’ angle to get them to play it (a whopping 92% of people who book The Vault download the game). This is the email that players get from an unknown sender, when they book their heist:
We just intercepted a worrying email from our target. It seems that the final safe to crack in your mission is more complex than we originally thought.. in fact, it’s a classic LIPS 1903 Model A.
This thing is gonna require some intense training. We had our team whip up a similation of the Model A safe mechanism, and packaged it as an innocent smartphone game, hiding in plain sight on the App Store (hilarious, we know).
Don’t know what type of phone you guys use (don’t wanna know either) so take your pick and distribute these links among your crew:
Let’s hope this will be the last time we talk.
Best Cross Media Game While the digital game is a secretly a training the live game, the in-story objective is to steal a special wax seal ring from the safe of one of the four families that built The Vault. This ring actually is part of the gear kit that you get at the beginning of the live game, symbolising the continuation of the story.