Not quite ‘blown away’
Reading town centre is being evacuated.
Police are appealing for the members of the public with the nerve and skill to disarm this device to step forward as the bomb squad won’t arrive before it set to detonate!
Reading seems to be growing in popularity as a location for escape room enthusiasts which is not surprising with the likes on TimeTrap and Deadlocked there, but one venue we’d not made it to yet was Escape Reading, although we’d heard great things.
Ironically we visited Escape Reading to play Blown Away on the day that Storm George was blowing a gale through the town so that made it feel a bit more serendipitous.
When we arrived there was another team waiting in the waiting area, but as they stagger starting times and have a secondary waiting area this wasn’t an issue. Once that team went into their room we moved over to the comfortable couches and received our health and safety and room briefing from our GM, Chloe.
During the briefing, we were asked if we wanted the regular or extended version of the room. ‘Extended’ meant it had a few more puzzles to make it a little harder. Of course, wanting value for money, we went for the extended version of the room.
Once the briefings were complete we stored our belongings in the lockers provided and then descended the stairs to the basement to begin our mission to save Reading.
The room played out in a multilinear way which a number of choke points to bring the team back together.
The first thing to point out about this room is that it is heavily reliant on communication and teamwork, and that is a theme that is evident throughout the game. The flip side of this room being communication-heavy is that there is very little searching needed.
Big puzzles can be a love/hate thing, personally I hate them. I don’t like a puzzle to take ten or fifteen minutes to solve and I’m all about the quick wins and then moving on to something new. Blown Away has a number of bigger, multi-step puzzles that we found tied up team members for quite a time meaning they missed out on other stuff going on.
There were a number of quick wins in this room that we did enjoy, particularly a couple of sneaky things that in hindsight should have been obvious but at the time, we overlooked them.
The final puzzle took quite a long time to solve and for me at least, it went on a bit too long. This puzzle could be completed as a team of two but it is certainly easier with at least three people.
I think I liked this room design, it was a bit rougher around the edges than I was expecting but there was nothing about it that I thought was bad.
We found the room to have decent signposting which made it easier to know what code went where or what we needed to do to solve a puzzle.
There was a good mix of tech, physical interaction, and physical tasks which kept the room fresh and exciting. Pleasingly for some, padlocks were a rarity here.
Although not visible from the start, our overall objective soon came into view and it was nice to get a sneak peek of it before we could physically interact with it. When we did finally gain access and it came into play it gave a satisfying and clear end to our mission – who doesn’t love a bit of triumphant and uplifting music to signify a successful mission?!
Our GM, Chloe, did a good job of reading the room (and our frustrations) and chimed in with clues/nudges at just the right time. There was one thing that we completely missed and would have never gone back to; fortunately, Chloe picked up on this and guided us back in the right direction – this saved a lot of frustration.
Clues were delivered via a screen in the room that also showed the time remaining. We had three clues, we didn’t request them but they were sent through when Chloe thought we needed them (which was well-judged).
Despite not being ‘blown away’ by this room, it was an enjoyable experience and kept us engaged well. Take your communication ‘A-game’ with you and you’ll have a good time.
We’ve heard good things about some of the other rooms at Escape Reading so we look forward to heading back and seeing what else they have on offer.
Team: 5 players – defused the bomb in 38:40
Address: Queens Walk, Unit 5, Reading, RG17QF