The Team: TDM, Nifta
I was visiting Nifta and we’d planned a full day of Geocaching around Basingstoke and Reading, rounded off with an Escape Room. I hadn’t read much online about The Vampire Slayers at Escape Reading but from the name it had the potential that we may have to dress up as Buffy to prance about and go through the motions which sounded like fun* (see footnote), so that swung it and I got it booked.
This would be Nifta’s first Escape Room so I was hoping for a couple of obvious things even more than usual… Firstly that it would be good, and secondly that we’d escape, as for Nifta a fail on his first room would be pretty discouraging for him in any future rooms. I was also hoping that our time would go down to the wire, as whereas I realise that lots of people like to complete rooms in as quick a time as possible and go for records, I prefer to get my money’s worth plus it always adds a bit of extra excitement at the end when you cut it fine!
This is of course what you say when like me you need all the time, and maybe if I was a bit better at these things then I’d be going for speed too! Maybe…
All that aside, one thing I can say is that we had a huge amount of fun playing The Vampire Hunters and it therefore gets a
Legend states that the Vampire Lord and his clan awakes every thousand years to appease their thirst for blood.
Your group of explorers have discovered today is the day they will arise to seek their vengeance against the human race.
After navigating our way around Reading’s pretty nightmarish road system, we arrived at Escape Reading’s Queen’s Walk venue quite early and were asked to take a seat in reception. I’ve found that a lot of Escape Room companies tend to have a variety of games, Rubik’s Cube type puzzles, and an assortment of locks such as you might encounter in the room to play around with in the waiting area, but at Escape Reading they’d done something a little different.
They’d made what I’d describe as a mini warm up cabinet that the curious (as we were) are left to discover. It’s actually a old wooden sideboard, which had a note on the top of it… which led to a series of mini puzzles to solve and locks to open. It wasn’t particularly difficult but I thought this was a brilliant idea, as it serves as a great intro for the kind of thing that people should expect if they’ve not played an Escape Room before. Nice touch.
It wasn’t too long before our room was ready though, and our host took us through to the back and down the stairs to where it was located. Going along with the room’s theme he donned a cloak and introduced the story by candlelight, and the fact that he had an genuine eastern European sounding accent was the theatrical cherry on the atmospheric cake. Perfect for the intro. Finally, just before we were let loose, he asked if we wanted the toned down or full on scary version of the room. We went for the full on version after being reassured it wasn’t too scary.
Once inside, we found the room was decorated in a quite Gothic style with lots of dark reds and blacks which set the atmosphere well, although some of the modern padlocks in the room were a little out of place with the rest of the decor. This didn’t really detract from the fun though and we quickly began searching around to sink our (non-fanged) teeth in. I think we probably jumped ahead slightly at the beginning as there was one quite easy puzzle which I imagine was supposed to be the entry point for the room and therefore the first thing you spot and solve, but we struggled with it and kicked ourselves later when we returned to it as it turned out to be a lot more simple than we thought. Thankfully, the room progression wasn’t too linear so we weren’t held up by our own incompetence!
It was nice to see puzzles included that were soloable but definitely expedited with a bit of teamwork, plus there was one that was actually impossible to complete by yourself. It wasn’t really ideal with just two of us either and would have been a lot quicker and easier with three, but we managed ok. I think that creating tasks like this where multiple people have to be involved shows great forethought and puzzle design, as it stops situations where potentially one person could be working on a puzzle while everyone else has to stand by watching like spare parts.
As far as the ‘scare factor’ went in the room, it wasn’t just a case of the odd random jump scare here and there, as alongside a few of those the tension was built up gradually to coincide with certain events happening when things were triggered by us completing tasks. There is always a danger that this kid of thing can feel a little bolted on as an afterthought, but in this case I felt it really enhanced the experience and worked well.
We had to take a few pointers along the way, mainly when we’d got our minds stuck on one line of thought and needed a gentle push to tell us to try something else, and we approached the conclusion with very little time left on the clock. The final bit included a pretty impressive prop/device which later on I realised I’d actually seen before, but typically any recollection of this at a point when it would have helped us had vacated my memory. This was probably a good thing though as this gave us the fun and tension of trying to work out how to solve it with seconds to spare… and it was literally seconds!
Great room, friendly hosts, loads of fun.
Sadly we didn’t have to but that didn’t mean we couldn’t