Games in Reading by Escape Reading
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Escape Reading have been around for a few years now, and have recently refurbished their original location (on the Oxford Road, near Tesco) with a very fresh look, and a brand new room to explore.
Entering the site, it was almost shocking how much it had changed - gone was the old-style "we've stuck a couple of rooms in a rented space above a welders", and the whole place has been repainted, reorganised, flashy lights and (I appreciate this sounds silly) charging cables for your phones inside the lockboxes for escapees. Our host (Jacob) gave us a well-themed brief that we were off to rob a bank for convoluted reasons, and off we went, through the door, and... Wow. Avoiding spoilers here, but the themeing was utterly on point, huge amounts of custom work that's been put in (including a number of utterly massive props that fit amazingly, and custom branding throughout), and it really did feel like a legitimate bank.
For the puzzles, they all drew off the theme well, and were challenging without being obtuse. The tech level was great, with maglocks galore and some very nice custom computer work. The robbery escalates throughout, with a finale that reminded me somewhat of a boss rush in Megaman, causing absolute chaos for our reasonably experienced (2 of us with >30 rooms, 2 with 5-10) team. Throughout the room, we didn't feel like we got stuck at all (barring us missing a really obvious sign, that we had to be prompted on!), and the pacing and puzzles kept all 4 of us busy for the duration. For less experienced teams, the room does come with a mechanic allowing for partial completion of the room, which in context makes a lot of sense.
Escape Reading have been pushing further and further with each room they release, and this room has really tipped the scales, putting it in my top 5 rooms (alongside both of CoDecode's rooms (Swindon), Time Trap's Station X (Reading) and Cryptology's First Contact (Sheffield)). We're super-excited about what they bring next (with their magic-themed room coming "soon")!
Good puzzle content in terms of both volume and variability.
Better theming/build quality than previous Escape Reading closed rooms as well, certainly best room to date.
There are 2 levels of difficulty - go for the harder one to avoid missing out on a couple of fun puzzles.