Ready to unlock the secrets of London? VAULT Quests, from VAULT Creative Arts is a chance for would-be explorers to do exactly that, using their own mobile phone. A Bridge Through Time is an interactive adventure that will take you right back to World War II.
You’re standing on the South Bank outside the National Film Theatre, phone in hand. You’ve had a curious message from the past, claiming to be from 1941: ‘I know that’s a lot to take in,’ the message runs, ‘but we’re in a hurry and there’s a war on, so let’s skip the shock and disbelief, the fainting and so forth.’
The Department for Transdimensional Intertemporal Affairs informs you that someone has infiltrated a top secret wartime program, and it’s up to you to solve the case – with the assistance of your contact – via a glitchy time-warping messaging medium known, appropriately, as the Glitch.
As the game progresses you’re sent from location to location, uncovering clues and solving mysteries. The setting is the streets around Waterloo, and takes in a number of places of interest you might not otherwise have visited: the Festival of Britain exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall, the Imperial War Museum, a Georgian terraced street seemingly unchanged in nearly two hundred years… and a number of pubs.
Most of the quests are straightforward, tasking you with identifying the sculptor of a statue, or the names of a trio of battleships. Only one is challenging, which entails decoding a message hidden in the ironwork of a bizarre set of railings.
The whole experience lasts two to three hours, depending on how appealing you find the pubs en route. It’s a fascinating walk through some of the lesser-known byways of the Waterloo area, though, and the exchanges are written with humour, with additional historical information about the various locations should you want it. Once you’ve stumped up the £25 entrance fee you can complete the experience at any time you like within the next couple of months. You can play on your own, or with a team of up to around six – although as all the information comes to a single phone, a larger team is likely to become unmanageable.
A Bridge through Time is an enjoyable stroll through history, and while the experience is entertaining in itself, it could have done with more puzzles and fewer simple fact hunts. True, this isn’t theatre by any stretch of the imagination, but we’re including it because it’s a way that the Vault Festival can keep a public presence while searching for a new home.
Writer: Oscar Blustin
Web Developer: Mat Burtcher
Graphic Design: Thomas Kirk Shannon
Producer: Adele Reeves de Melo
A Quest Through Time is available to book and play at any time. Further information can be found here.