Reading, Mar 2018
The first of the two horror themes we tried at Escape Reading’s central branch was Kidnapped, which avoids outright scares in favour of building a subtle creepy atmosphere. (For those who hate jump scares, there should be little to worry about here.) There is little preamble in the briefing or the website’s description of the room: you’ve been kidnapped and imprisoned. But as the game progresses the style of the decorations gives a vivid impression of your captor, with some later puzzles making using of tools of their profession in creative and clever ways.
The most interesting and unusual moment of this game is something I’m going to have to avoid talking about for spoiler reasons. I’ll just say that it’s a twist that caught us entirely by surprise, while making complete sense in the game’s setting, and it added an effective jolt of adrenaline.
As with all three of the games we tried at Escape Reading, the standard of puzzle design was rock solid, where once you see how to solve something you can be completely confident it’ll work. We wasted some time struggling with a puzzle that we thought was ambiguous, with multiple possible approaches that gave a variety of equally plausible answer codes – but of course we’d missed something, and once our error was sorted out the correct way to solve it was very clear.
Given the serial killer theme, it probably sounds odd if I say I found several aspects of the game charming. But there are some very nice wooden constructions, which weren’t particularly a natural fit for the setting but were great in all other respects, including an unusual and clever variation on an certain escape room staple. And more generally it kept a high level of creativity in the props and puzzle ideas it used. Other than the surprise I’m trying hard not to spoil, there’s little that’s wildly unusual for an escape room, but plenty that’s designed with enough originality to feel fresh and interesting.
If you want a frightening game, you’re better off with their Vampire game instead. Kidnapped built atmosphere without leaving us feeling afraid for our lives. But for puzzles, and as an escape room, Kidnapped is well-designed, entertaining and creative.