That large vault has got to be somehow related to those clues-in-bottles you've been collecting. If you can locate all the clues in this area, I should be able to crack the code and get you inside it.
― Bentley, when Sly approaches a vault for the first time[src]
Vaults (or safes) are large, secure locked boxes found in every entry of the Sly Cooper series. They usually hold items that are either essential to the plot or bonuses otherwise required to reach 100% completion.
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
In Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, the vaults are secured with three-dial combination locks. The Fiendish Five keeps a vault somewhere in every level of the first four episodes, excluding the hub worlds, with most of them containing a page they stole from the Thievius Raccoonus. For each of the vaults seen in gameplay, Sly Cooper will first have to collect all the clue bottles scattered throughout the level (there are anywhere from 20 to 40 clue bottles per level) in order for Bentley to decipher the vault's code to open it. Sly will then have to find and approach the vault in the level, press , and use (left or right to switch dials, up or down to change a dial's number) to enter the code Bentley deciphered so that you can unlock the vault. Each vault has a specific code that unlocks it. For instance, opening the vault in "The Lair of the Beast" will always result in Bentley mentioning his personal demons before revealing the code to be "4-4-4."
The specific rewards for unlocking a vault are in two set orders. Most vaults contain a Thievius Raccoonus page that unlocks a power-up, with each one being unlocked as you open vaults. For example, the first vault you unlock, regardless of what level or episode it is in, will contain the Fast Attack Dive Move. However, there is also one vault in each episode that instead has the blueprints to the location of the episode, which allows Sly's binocucom to highlight any nearby breakable objects and clue bottles in that location. The vault with the blueprints will always be the third one unlocked in the specific location. For example, regardless of how many power-ups you have, the third vault opened in "Tide of Terror" will contain the blueprints to Raleigh's operation in the Isle of Wrath; the binocucom will subsequently allow you to see any breakable objects and clue bottles within any level in the "Tide of Terror" episode.
In addition to the vaults unlocked in gameplay, there is also a vault in the boss level of the first four episodes. Defeating the boss will have Sly automatically find and unlock the vault during the ending cutscene for the episode. Each vault contains the last page of the section of Thievius Raccoonus the defeated Fiendish Five member stole, with each one unlocking an ability that is needed to advance further in the game.
It is not possible to unlock all the vaults before the end of the game. Should one attempt to unlock all the vaults before defeating Clockwerk, Bentley will inform you that the final clue is written in owl dialect and he won't be able to crack the code until you meet and defeat the bird who created it. After defeating Clockwerk, unlocking the rest of the vaults completes the Thievius Raccoonus unlocks the final cutscene of the game, with Sly confirming that it is "the first time I held the whole thing under my arm since I was eight years old."
Sly 2: Band of Thieves
In Sly 2: Band of Thieves, the vaults return, but with some changes. The vaults are now secured with numeric PIN keypads. The Klaww Gang keeps one vault in each episode; the vault can be located anywhere within the episode, and it will not always be accessible from the start. For instance, the vault in The Black Chateau is in Dimitri Lousteau's office, which will only be accessible at the end of the mission "Bug Dimitri's Office." There are 30 clue bottles in every episode's hub world that need to be collected to unlock the vault. The clue bottles are almost always collectible right away, unlike vaults. While Bentley and Murray can collect clue bottles, only Sly can open vaults. Each vault contains a specific power-up for Sly (and Bentley in the case of the Long Toss). For example, opening Dimitri's vault will always unlock the Knockout Dive power-up, regardless of the order the vaults are unlocked in.
If a locked vault is accessible and the clue bottles have been collected, a special vault waypoint for the location of the vault will appear whenever waypoints are projected with , provided the player is playing as Sly and is either in the hub world or in the section of the episode where the vault is. If all of the clue bottles have been collected before the vault is accessible, a vault waypoint will not show.
Unlocking the vault is slightly different compared to the first game. As usual, after Sly approaches the vault and presses , Bentley will give the vault's code. However, Sly will have to use to navigate the vault's keypad and press to dial the number Sly's hand is currently in front of. The vault will not open until the code has been dialed flawlessly.
Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves
In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, vaults appear in a very different capacity. They only appear in certain jobs and come in two varieties: safes secured with single-dial locks and safes secured with three-dial combination art decryption locks.
Sly cracks the single-dial-locked safes by hand. After approaching the safe, Sly has to rotate the safe's dial by rotating . Keep rotating until the controller vibrates, hold the stick's position, and then slowly rotate the stick in the opposite direction until there is another vibration. Hold the position, and then slowly rotate the stick in the original direction once more until there is a vibration. A green light will appear near the dial when this occurs. Release the stick at that point, and the safe will open. If you continue to rotate the stick after a vibration occurs, or if the stick is released before the third vibration is reached, then you will have to start the safe-cracking minigame over from the beginning.
Bentley cracks the art-decryption-locked safes by first examining the painting the safe is hidden behind. After approaching the painting, press to look at the painting. A magnifying glass will appear along with the painting; use to move the glass around and to zoom in on the area the glass is. After finding the hidden code within the painting, memorize the code and press to lift the painting and reach the combination lock. As with the first game, use to switch dials (left or right) and change a dial's numbers (up and down) until the code is inputted. If at any point you need to look at the painting again, press .
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
Vaults return in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, sharing some of the rules from Sly 2, but with some changes. The vault is secured with a rotating dial that appears to have three layers. There is only one vault per hub world, and 30 clue bottles have to be collected in order to unlock the vault. As opposed to a power-up, each vault carries a specific treasure that grants a special effect and affects all of the playable characters. Unlike in Sly 2, any character can unlock the vaults.
The method to open the vault is quite different. Each layer of the dial has a red triangle; the goal is to align the red triangles with the red circle at the top of the vault, all within 30 seconds. To do this, you must align the triangle of each layer with the dot one at a time, from the outermost layer inward. There are three different ways to align a layer, and the game will have you do all three of them in a random order, one for each layer. One layer will need to be aligned by rotating in either direction, another layer requires to be rotated, and the other layer requires the controller itself to be tilted.
- In Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, if Sly strikes a vault, Sly will jump back as the cane recoils and vibrates.
- After unlocking a vault in Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, Sly jumps and opens the vault with his cane, takes the item, places it inside his backpack and replaces the item with a calling card. In Sly 2, Sly instead opens the vault immediately, leaving the calling card while he takes the item.
- In Thieves in Time, he does not leave behind calling cards.