Getting kidnapped is strangely fun
You wake up in a small darkened room. Nobody can clearly remember it all seems so blurry.
You realise you have been Kidnapped.
Reading is one of those locations where there are plenty of good games, so many in fact that we still had a number of games there that we hadn’t played. On our way back from our escape room trip to Athens, we decided to stop off in Reading to tick off some of those games, strangely they were mostly the games at Escape Reading. Earlier in the day we had played Ram Raid at their other location, and we had just played The Vampire Slayers prior to playing Kidnapped.
As we had already played one game at this venue today, our GM Katie was kind enough to let us skip through the health and safety talk again. Instead we just went straight to business and she took us to the entrance to the room where she gave us a simple story brief. This was in character, to an extent, simply because she had a doctor’s coat on, so we’ll give her that. The briefing was, well, brief, because we then received a more thorough briefing once we started our mission.
First impressions of the room were dark – very dark. On entering the game there was pretty much no light at all so of course our first task was to try and find a light source. Before we could do that though, a strangely familiar voice came over the speaker system. Evidently someone else had been kidnapped and they were going to try and help us escape, so this voice (which was none other than Charlie from Deadlocked explained our mission in more detail and then kindly left us to get on with things.
The darkness of the game didn’t last too long and then for the rest of the experience we found the lighting to be at a much better level and it never became an issue. Ambient noises and music was played throughout the game which added to the atmosphere of the game, and also helped to drown out any noises from external sources.
Fortunately I’ve never been kidnapped so I can’t quite say for sure if this felt authentic. However, we ‘woke’ in a dark room and then found our way out of there to explore other areas, so I guess that probably fits the bill. The other areas we found all had a distinct purpose and felt like it pushed the narrative forward.
The game itself took place on one level, with no crawling or climbing needed but it’s worth noting that to get to the game you do have to go up a flight of stairs.
The start of Kidnapped played out in a very linear fashion and with the lack of lighting meant we couldn’t split up or do anything independently. Fortunately that didn’t last too long then we found the game opened up much more and we were able to split up and work on things independently, with the inevitable choke points at various stages.
The game was pretty low tech with puzzles resulting in codes or keys for padlocks but there were still a few moments where some tech or a more manual process triggered something in the room. Thanks to decent signposting though we never had any issue knowing what padlock to try our code in.
The puzzles were fair and reasonable and I don’t recall getting frustrated in too many places with random leaps of logic. There was; searching, observation, tactile, physical, communication, logic, and audio – a good selection. There was one puzzle that we were pretty sure we knew what we had to do but it still felt like we took a leap of faith with it and then questioned if we did the right thing (apparently we did).
Any clues needed simply had to be requested and they would be displayed on the screen in the room (the screen also displayed the countdown timer). Clues would then be announced with an audio alert so that we knew to look for them.
Katie did a good job of keeping an eye on us while we were in the game, but unfortunately we did encounter a tech fail which threw us off our rhythm. There wasn’t much tech in the game, and I gather the tech that failed on us had literally never failed before (typical). I think at first she assumed we were just doing something wrong but after a short period of time, another GM came in to provide assistance. There wasn’t much that could be done so they just told us what the next step would be and then we continued on as normal. It was a shame this happened at the time it did as I think it really affected our finishing time, but it was handled well and didn’t affect our experience too much. Tech fails happen.
I’d probably class this as quite a traditional escape room, with some traditional but satisfying puzzles. It starts off dark but soon lightens up and becomes a fun place to explore.
A tech fail hampered our game but the GMs handled it well and really, that’s all that matters. It’s easy for tech to fail but it’s how it’s handled that really makes a difference, so well done to Escape Reading for training their GMs well.
Team: 2 players – escaped in 38:27
Address: Unit 5, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 7QF