Reading, Mar 2018
Horror rooms are a varied lot, and can be anything from puzzle-driven games with a few blood splatters and fake severed fingers to set the scene, through to full on terror experiences where solving anything is complicated by flickering lights and chainsaw-wielding maniacs. Both of the games at Escape Reading’s centre-of-town branch are horror themed, and of the two Vampire Slayers is the one that sets out to scare you. But while it doesn’t hold back at trying to make you jump, it’s not at all grim or nasty, and its Halloween thrills strike an excellent balance between scary and fun.
Your mission is to kill a certain vampire, who is due to wreak havoc on the world unless you can pierce his heart with a magic dagger in the final hour before he wakes. Naturally, this involves descending into the vampire’s lair, which may have one or two small surprises for you to deal with…
The lair is decadently lush, full of decadently gothic stylings that would make Vincent Price feel at home. It uses a variety of modern padlocks but they didn’t stick out and shouldn’t bother any but the most picky of players. It’s a dimly lit space, at the level where a light source is useful but probably not essential; they provide a decently bright lantern and additional lights are available, all nicely on-theme. Audio and sound effects helped build the immersion as well.
There are maybe slightly fewer puzzles in this game than in the others at Escape Reading. There are considerably more distractions to overcome while solving them, however. Naturally I’ll avoid details, but I found this game’s scares to be a lot more clever and original than, say, rubber spiders dropping from the ceiling or someone in a mask suddenly popping up at a window. Your mileage may vary, but we found it pitched at a level that elicited shrieks and nervous giggles without seriously freaking anyone out.
As with one of their other games, I wonder if a particular prop could be a bottleneck – we knew the trick and sailed through it, but no doubt it’ll catch many teams who spend less times on enthusiast forums. Depending on the team it might be a frustrating speed bump that interferes with the game end, or it could give a nail-biting extra challenge that’s all the more satisfying when solved.