Whilst in Reading recently, we caught wind of The Vampire Slayers – an escape room promising scares so we booked in, curious as to what we were going to experience. After all, we hadn’t really heard much about it.
So, what did we get? Our first impressions of the room weren’t great with the overall atmosphere being a bit unexciting. I want to say it reeked ‘vampire decadence’ – you’ll know what I mean, lots of red and ornate objects decorating the room but it wasn’t that detailed beyond a superficial level. An atmospheric soundtrack, however, did some of the heavy lifting where mood-setting was concerned. And then there was the games master adding his own ‘effects’ – we reckon for something quite simple, this room could genuinely unnerve some people. We won’t say exactly what the games master did at points but one moment went further (in a good way) than one of us was expecting! That said, if you do have concerns about the scare factor in this game, they do offer a toned-down version, giving you the option of which style you want to play in the briefing. But then, you’re reading this site so that last sentence probably didn’t need to be written!
There were a few triggered effects as well. One was well conceived in that it positioned you, unwittingly, in the perfect place for the scare whilst you’re distracted by something else. Although by then, we’d become slightly inured to the tricks that the game was pulling – maybe this effect needed to occur a bit earlier in the game. If you want a ‘scary’ game, we think this is a good punt for the money considering that there’s no live actors or anything like that. There’s far scarier stuff out there but it certainly gets the job done.
So, it delivers on the scares but what of the rest of the game? Thankfully, there’s a mid-game twist that makes playing The Vampire Slayers far more enjoyable than we originally expected. When I say twist, anyone that’s played an escape room before will know what I mean. Because the first half of the game let us down slightly with some dubious theming. By that, I mean that although the area itself looked decent, there was the presence of certain features that absolutely did not fit the era or location of the game. The second half of the game redeemed this perfectly and was a stark contrast in theme and quality.
The puzzles themselves were pretty standard despite the fact that they featured things that I wouldn’t expect to see in the world of this story. If anything, the constant appearance of elements contradictory to the theme hurt it for us. It’s a small thing but it’s a reminder that we’re playing a game and destroys any level of immersion that we might’ve felt. At this point in the timeline of escape games, we should be experiencing rooms that feel less like an assortment of puzzles in a room. We respect that escape games need to sometimes balance the immersion with providing something playable but we’d like to see designers ask themselves at every juncture, ‘can we incorporate this into the theme better?’. We’re sure in most cases that some kind of adjustment is possible – even if it’s something simple like the type of font used! It might be a facet of us having played a few games now but inhabiting a believable world is half of the experience for us.
Overall though, we had a lot of fun in the room. It’s just quite frustrating as it could clearly be a much better game with a few adjustments to sell the notion that you’re actually exploring a vampire’s residence!
The Vampire Slayers Review (2018)
+ Second half delivered on the game's promise
+ Some good scares
+ Game was fun to play
- Theming wasn't always relevant to the story
We had a good time in The Vampire Slayers. It's not the most elaborate game but the guys have done a very good job at creating something that delivers a few good scares. We'd just like to see more of the game be on-theme than currently is.
Price: £27.50 per person (playing as 2)
Address: Queens Walk Unit5, Reading, United Kingdom, RG17QF