Escape the Chop Review | Local men are vanishing… Someone at Burghfield Barbers thinks they know why… Do you have what it takes to work out who’s behind the disappearances and Escape The Chop?
Completion Time: 43:39
Date Played: 29th August 2021
Party Size: 2
Located in the small town of Burghfield, just outside of Reading, is a small barber shop at the side of the main road. For all intents and purposes it’s a quaint and sleepy little village. But don’t let it’s appearance deceive you… This is actually the site of a string of very mysterious disappearances. Men from all over Burghfield and Reading are popping down to the barbers for an appointment and are never seen again.
About Escape the Chop
Escape the Chop is Reading’s newest escape room experience located a little off the beaten track around a 20 minute drive from Reading station. If you’re like us and don’t own a car, there are plenty of bus routes or a taxi costs around £15.
It’s born of a whole lot of love and enthusiasm from first time escape room designer, Alex – who ran our room for us! The origins story goes that Alex was having his hair cut at the barbers and thought “hey it would be really cool to have an escape room here“. The owner thought about it and after a little while said “sure, we’ve got a room back here you can have.”
The brilliant thing about this story is that I didn’t actually hear it from Alex himself, but from the next escape room in Reading we visited, where the team were very excited to hear we’d played Escape the Chop. This was then affirmed that evening by chatting on my personal account to another Reading room manager, who excitedly told me Escape the Chop was next on his list. One thing is for sure and that’s Reading has an amazingly supportive network of escape rooms who are all out to sing each other’s praises. Escape the Chop is the latest grassroots room joining this community and not to be missed if you’re in the area!
“Hi, we’re here for Pirelli’s miracle hair treatment”
From the very first moment you walk through the door, you’re immersed in Escape the Chop. The game begins when you approach the barbers and ask for Pirelli’s Miracle Hair Treatment. A nervous young barber approaches and takes you to the back room as if preparing you for a hair cut. It’s only when the door closes behind him that he explains why you’re really here: to help get to the bottom of the disappearances. Wait, that IS why you’re here, right?
Between the front room (a real life barber shop) and the back room (the escape room in disguise) there’s very little thematic difference. It’s only when you look closely you realise that all the cupboards are locked shut and not everything is quite as it seems here.
The ‘briefing’ is delivered completely in character as your GM cautiously explains that his boss (the kindly looking barber who we’d just walked past) is up to something really sinister and he fears for his life. As a player you’re not really sure what you’ve stepped into, but whatever it is you don’t have a lot of time before the barber’s next appointment. A nervous ‘good luck’ and out the GM steps leaving you alone!
A Modern Day Sweeney Todd
In terms of the storyline, it loosely follows the classic horror tale of Sweeney Todd but with a modern twist…
…Or at least, that’s one way of looking at it!
It could also be seen a heartwarming story of a Turkish barber assimilating into the local Reading society and taking a particular interest in British cuisine! Pies! The speculation that they may or may not be made out of people is neither here not there.
What you actually experience is a very classic two-room escape room that goes from a “oh what a cool barber shop setup” to “oh my god what have we discovered?!”
Despite the theme, the room isn’t too scary. According to the website it’s recommended for players aged 10 and above and apart from one quite funny jump scare, the room is more creepy than scary. There’s a little bit of ‘light gore’. If you don’t mind the occasional fake squishy body parts here and there, you’ll be fine.
√-1 2^3 ∑ π …And it was delicious!
In terms of puzzles, there was a good mix and at a good level of difficulty throughout the room! We were told, in full character, that if we needed hints our GM may be able to tell us some more about the barber as a person. We did end up needing one or two hints which were offered freely when we strayed too far down the wrong path.
In terms of what to expect, the goal of the room is to find proof of who is behind the disappearances. With this in mind, you must find out everything you possibly can about the people who work at the barber shop. You can do that by unlocking all the cupboards and rummaging through their stuff, but this is where it gets tricky… A lot of locks for a lot of cupboards!
Players can expect to encounter a wide range of puzzles. Everything from searching and finding, to tracking down codes, some physical manipulation, some maths, some black light, plenty of number and colour puzzles… There’s a lot! One puzzle in particular we loved was one of the ones we needed a clue on. It was also the puzzle most true to the barber shop theme – safe to say I’d never seen a puzzle quite like this in any other room – but then again, I’ve never done a hairdresser or barber themed room before!
Escape the Chop was a real hidden gem! It’s built with buckets of love and it really shows in every little detail from how fun the game was to how brilliant the customer service is from start to finish.
It’s also just such a brilliant little room – well balanced with fun puzzles and massively immersive. If this is creator Alex’s first room, I cannot wait to see what the future brings!
If you’re living in, or visiting Reading, you have got to put Escape the Chop on your list… It’s a must play!
Escape the Chop can be booked by heading to Escape the Chop’s website here.
Mairi is the editor-in-chief of The Escape Roomer and writes about news, and reviews covering London and UK south.