The Vampire Slayers - A horror escape room escape game in Reading.

The Vampire Slayers (Escape Reading)

Where: Reading

Price Range: £16 – £28 Per Person

Players: 2-6

Duration: 60 Minutes

Website: escapereading.co.uk

Mysterious Noises: 10/10

Story

Long story short: there’s a vampire. He’s been asleep for a thousand years, but he’s due to wake any second now. Legend states that if you plunge a silver dagger into his heart in the final hour of his millennium-long slumber he’ll stay unconscious for another thousand years. You’d think, as a band of semi-professional vampire slayers, you’d have set about uncovering his tomb and locating a suitable dagger waaaay in advance of the deadline.

Alas, you’re not the most organised paranormal problem-solvers on the block, and what with one thing and another you’ve accidentally left it until the very last moment to deal with the sleeping dude with the pointy teeth. Better get cracking. If you miss your shot and the vampire wakens once more to terrorise the world for a hundred generations it’s going to look really bad on you.

Sizing

This room is big. So big, in fact, that there’s space enough to pace thoughtfully while you try and puzzle out some solutions to the fiendish riddles you’ll be facing. A team of six should fit comfortably inside, and while some bits of the game are pretty linear, there are also times when having a large team might be an advantage – apart from anything else a large team makes it significantly easier to huddle in terror. There is also one puzzle that requires a minimum of two participants.

Theming

The room is kitted out with genuine-seeming antique furniture, and various appropriately-gothic props (plus a huge-ass silver Buddha for some reason). The puzzles all look like they belong where you find them, although the walls have a bit of a cheap and flimsy feel to them. The use of sound is excellent: the background music changes frequently to reflect your current level of peril and the time you have remaining to complete your quest. Add in the occasional sound effect scientifically engineered to make you wet yourself with terror and The Vampire Slayers is, overall, a treat for the ears.

Puzzles

For the most part the puzzles flow well, although there are a few sticking points that feel somewhat clumsy. Specifically irritating are two puzzles that require you to open a standard-looking thing in an entirely non-standard way. In each case it looks eminently like the normal approach will work if you just manage to jiggle things together right. The chances that any given team will opt, un-prompted, for an off-the-wall approach to these objects seems minimal, and so they mostly just serve as time sucks while you wait for a hint to tell you what to do.

Some of the puzzles also feel as though they’ve been “fixed” a little. Broadly speaking the use of colour and visual language to tell you what object goes with what puzzle is good, but there are a few instances where the designers have simple pasted a small picture of the object you need to find right next to the corresponding puzzle. Which works, don’t get me wrong, but feels like an inelegant solution.

In addition to these issues, however, there are also some really fun and brilliant puzzles. The Vampire Slayers deserves credit for great use of body part props, and some excitingly mechanical mechanisms. It also has lots of big containers to open, and manages to generate a significant sense of dread with each. The sense of impending-fright renders the simple act of opening a cupboard into its own unique challenge. Naturally, the jump scares are never where you expect they’re going to be – part of the general tendency of this room to subvert expectations whenever it can. Hence you’ll encounter both a blacklight hunt and a directional lock, but both are used in a fun and unique way.

Special Effects

This is definitively a scary room. In addition to the aforementioned jump scares, there are some brilliant haunt house special effects and several moments where you have to reach into something, open something or complete some other headily dread-inducing task. These moments are so tense that in a movie they would undoubtedly be scored with screeching violins. And the scares don’t entirely end once the game is over. That said, if you’re of a nervous disposition, tell your Games Master, and they’ll be happy to tone down the scare factor for you.

Game Systems

The Vampire Slayers comes with a standard screen timer and hint-giving system, and will offer you a range of written and pictorial hints to help you along your way. These are given at the discretion of the Games Master, and there’s no specific mechanism to ask for one – although if you stand around looking lost and sad they won’t keep you hanging. The hints are sometimes a little on the nose, and appear to be written to order. The graphics package for the hint system is, suffice to say, likely to make you nostalgic for the days of MS Paint.

Peripherals

You’ll find The Vampire Slayers right in the middle of Reading. Escape Reading do have two separate venues, so make sure you double-check the address before rocking up for your game. There are toilets and lockers available within the venue itself, and it’s within spitting distance of two different shopping areas, so plenty of options if you want to grab a bite (hahaha) to eat before or after.

The waiting area has a bit of a just-moved-house vibe, but it also has a pretty neat little puzzle cabinet that you can warm up your escaping muscles on. It’s not too hard, but does have a couple of cool tricks up its sleeve, and is perfect for getting any new escapers up to speed on how to work with padlocks.

Verdict

A definite yes for horror fans or anyone who likes a nice, scary room. A good venue for Reading, and a fairly good room overall. There are a few sticking points, but they shouldn’t stand in the way of you having a fun time. Great for beginners, and with a few interesting moments for more experienced players.

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