15 Escape Room Tips
So, you are going to an escape room. Whether it’s your first time or 20th, here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of your game.
- Show up on time. This generally means 10-15 minutes before you game is scheduled to start. You only get a certain amount of time to play a game. To makes sure you get every second, be on time. It’s hard for the escape room to let games run long if people show up late because there is usually a game right after yours. Additionally, if you are playing with a large group, you don’t want to be the person who comes in once everyone else has already started.
- Introduce yourself. If you don’t know everyone you are playing the game with, make sure to introduce yourself! As an introvert myself, this is usually my least favorite part, but I promise it will make the entire experience much more enjoyable! Escape rooms require teamwork and communication – both of which are very hard to achieve if you won’t talk to the other people in your group.
Pay attention to the backstory. Most games start with the game master giving you a backstory. If you listen carefully, they may drop a few hints that will help you out later on in the game. This is not the time to tune out! For instance, if you listen to the backstory for our game “SEAL Team” you’ll pick up on a minor hint that will help you in the game.
- Look carefully around the room. Generally, there is a prop that draws everyone’s attention. That’s great! It’s probably very important. BUT it probably isn’t important in isolation. Often times at the beginning of the game there is at least one clue that is a “seek and find,” meaning, if you look closely you will find a hint – or even a free key – that will get things moving.
- Communicate. This is probably the most important thing. Escape rooms often have up to 10 people playing at the same time. If you find something, even if you don’t know what it is yet, let everyone know. There is a good chance that someone else is looking at something and whatever you found will come in very helpful!
- Don’t put things in your pockets. You know what they say, “out of sight, out of mind.” Put things you find in an obvious place where other people can see it too until you find out what it is used for. The people you are playing with are likely very talented, but I have yet to play with anyone who is a mind reader or has x-ray vision. Help everyone out and share what you found.
- Ask for help. Escape rooms are hard. They are supposed to be! If you get stuck and are not making any progress, don’t waste half of your game going in circles. Come to a consensus with your teammates and ask the game master for a hint.
- Listen to the clues in the game. If there is a clue that suggests that you shine a flashlight on wall – just give it a try. All too often we talk ourselves out of doing what a clue suggests because we don’t see how it could be relevant. Good game
design includes great creativity! Hopefully there are many clues that surprise you in how they work. A game full of pad locks might be intuitive, but it sure would be boring.
- Move backwards and forwards. Yes – you definitely want to make forward progress in your game, that’s the point. But often to get to the next puzzle, you might have to go back. This is especially true when your game has multiple rooms. Just because you have moved from one room to the next doesn’t mean that there is nothing left for you in the first room!
- Keep track of clues. Sometimes in the beginning of a game you find a bunch of different clues. You start down a path with a few of them and make progress, but don’t forget about the other ones you found. They will come into play, even if not right away. I always like to separate the clues that we have already used and the ones we have not yet figured out just to make sure we don’t miss anything.
- Don’t force props. If there is a square peg and a round hole, don’t try to force it in! Of course, that’s just a saying, but really, I’ve seen it happen way to often where people want a certain key to fit a lock and break it in the process. This is a huge pain because now the game master has to come in, cut the lock, replace it and fix anything else that was broken in the process. This is a big time suck and it definitely takes away from the excitement of the game. This goes for other things besides locks too – if you are in doubt, ask the game master if you are on the right track. Better safe than sorry!
- Listen. Clues don’t always come in the form of things you can see. Is their background music? Is there a beat to it? Certain lyrics? It might not be relevant, but then again, it might be just what you need.
- Listen. No – that’s not a typo. Listen to the other people you are playing with. Everyone thinks differently and ideally the room was designed to be inclusive of all different types of thinkers. For example, my husband and I are very logical and experienced with escape rooms. My mom is very artistic, not so logical, and not experienced with escape rooms. About a year ago we were playing a game and we were completely stumped. My husband and I were in our own world, certain that if anyone was going to figure it out, it would be us. Turns out, my mom had the right idea and had already told us her idea but we wasted a lot of time not listening to her thinking we knew best. Big mistake. Sorry Ma!
- Have a good time. This sounds silly, but if you are anything like me, you might get so competitive and so concerned with the time running out that you forget to enjoy the creativity in the game and the time you are spending with the people around you. If you don’t have a good time – what’s the point?
- Make plans for after! It’s always fun to debrief with your team about the game after its all over! Hopefully you got out and can celebrate your victory, but even if not, it is always a good time hearing what people thought of the game, what their favorite clue was, and what surprised them most.
The more you play the more you’ll start to see the patterns for yourself. You’ll recognize puzzle concepts and clues. You’ll understand how the games work, and you’ll get better. The challenge of good escape rooms never gets old!