Written by Elliot Kim, 1st Year English Literature
*Warning* – the following review may contain spoilers. If you want to experience the event completely unspoiled, register for Zed Event’s next ‘Wasteland Experience’ on their website.
Does the idea of defending yourself with limited ammunition assault rifles, while being chased down a dimly red-lit, narrow, crowded corridor by a post-apocalyptic, chainsaw-wielding maniac fill you with glee?
If you answered yes, then first of all, consider sitting down for a minute to think about your life choices. Then, consider signing up for the Wasteland Experience by Zed Events.
In a quiet alley near Reading Station is an unassuming set of doors in the side of an abandoned building. Through these, you’re in an unlit hallway leading to a maze of dark rooms and rubble. In one of these rooms, you put down your bags, hydrate, sign a waiver, at which point you’re armed, briefed on the mission (and the rules) – and you’re off.
Like, seriously off.
‘Wasteland Experience’ is a genuinely unique experience, which combines the best elements of laser-tag, role-playing games, and interactive theatre, but first and foremost, the name of the game is ‘total immersion’. From the absolute get go, the entire experience moves at a break-neck pace, giving you zero time to acclimate to the darkness, eerie noises, blood-curdling screams, claustrophobia, sheer adrenaline, and terrifying, cinema-quality visual effects. Set in 250,000 square feet of dark, converted mall, the terrain is unpredictable and large enough that you never know what’s coming around the next corner, or what you’ll be required to do next. The combat and armaments, like everything else, are crafted for realism – the iCombat training system’s semi-automatic assault rifles are tiringly heavy, and you have to very quickly learn how to aim using iron-sights, and reload a magazine. Ammunition is also alarmingly scarce, meaning first that you’ll very quickly learn to count your shots, and second, that you can’t charge your way through scenarios. Instead, you resort to guided sequences of tension-ramping stealth, where you’ll occasionally find yourself hiding behind a box while some very dedicated characters hiss insults and threats as they search for you and your comrades. Which isn’t to say the combat isn’t exhilarating – flash-bang poppers, the realistic recoil of your weapons, and the superb acting of the team, make each fight sequence fully engaging.
In short, you’ll easily forgot what is and isn’t real. This experience succeeds as an incredible, guided experience of post-apocalyptic survival horror, in which you’ll lose yourself to a truly adrenaline-ramping and physically challenging test of your ability to stay calm under pressure. I would be remiss in highlighting that this is an intense and physically taxing event that isn’t exactly family friendly, and I’d strongly recommend wearing sturdy foot-wear. Beyond that, I highly recommend this event to any, and all, enthusiasts of horror-survival, immersion theatre, war-gamers, and those in favor of generally extreme experiences. 5/5 stars.
Wasteland Experience is organized by Zed Events – to find out more or to book your slot, visit www.zedevents.co.uk