Each time we do a room we learn something new, but there are a few things we stick to each time and so far it has seen us keeping a 100% escape rate (famous last words).
Here are our ten top tips for completing an escape room, is there anything we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.
Listen to the Gamesmaster
Before you enter the room make sure you listen to the GM. While they will often give you the backstory to the room which can make it more enjoyable, they may also give you insights into something in the room which can help you. Pay attention to anything they give you to take in, it could be something you need to complete the room – not everything is purely theming.
Listen to the rules, by following the rules you will find that you have a better experience and it makes life easier for the GM. If they tell you that the room doesn’t need brute force, then don’t try and prise that box off the wall!
Divide and Conquer
The first thing we do when we enter a room is to split up, you’re not going to cover much ground by sticking together. If one of your teammates goes straight to a puzzle, go the other way and find your own thing to work on.
Regardless of your team size communication is fundamental to success. Sometimes you may be split up and other times you’ll be standing right next to each other, but make sure you always report back on what you find or need.
When entering the room announce to the room what you find, four-digit padlock? Morse code? Say it out loud as someone on the other side of the room may have just found what you need.
Is there a carpet on the floor? Look under it. A doorknob? Pull on it. We’ve made these mistakes before and have wasted a lot of time as we just accepted that something was locked or just part of the room decor.
If there are items on the wall that look like you can take them down (unless told not to), then do. We’ve missed things because we thought we’d help the Gamesmaster (GM) with the reset and not move too many things – turns out we missed something vital to the game! No more tidiness for us!
Make it a habit to look up at the ceiling and down at the floor during your search. You may save yourself a lot of aggravation if you take the time to fully observe your surroundings, rather than immediately focusing on the obvious as you search under, inside, and behind anything that freely moves.
Organise (discard pile)
This is tried and tested and all escape room enthusiasts will say the same thing, organise. Before your game, your GM may tell you that items are only used once and once used you’ve used it you can ignore it. If this is the case, create a discard pile somewhere in the room that’s out of the way and when you solve something add the clues to that pile. This will stop a team member from picking up something and trying to solve it again.
Look at what you need (codes/patterns etc)
If you find a four-digit padlock then look around for four-digit numbers, or if you have a colour combination padlock then see where you can see those colours in the room. Look at what the puzzles need and use that to guide your searches.
It’s worth noting that you may find/solve something early on that comes into play later, or if you can’t find what to do with something, just keep it in your memory and move on, you may not have everything you need at that moment.
Everyone’s brains work differently, if you can’t solve something then your teammates probably can so move on. There’s no shame in looking at a puzzle and just not being able to get it and if you announce to your team that you can’t do it then one of them can ‘tag in’.
We’ve spent ages on a puzzle trying to overly complicate it and getting nowhere, then tag out and a teammate comes along and solves it instantly. Accept your limitations.
We have a wonderful habit of looking at a problem and making it far more complicated than it needs to be. A prime example was a puzzle in The Night Before Christmas which nearly ended in divorce because we couldn’t solve a puzzle that eight-year-olds can. If we stepped back and simplified it would have been much easier.
It’s worth noting that a good escape room is fully self-contained with its puzzles and you shouldn’t need any external knowledge. Found some morse code but no translation? Then look harder, it will be there somewhere.
Ask for help
All rooms have some form of clue system in place if you get stuck, don’t be afraid to use it if you need to. Some rooms may have a limit on the number of clues you can have but most don’t. Clues and nudges are there to help you get through the game and get the most enjoyment out of it.
There are ways to take shortcuts in games such as picking locks (three-digit locks are particularly easy to pick) but doing this can actually slow you down as you will be left with puzzles and not know what they are for. Trust me, the confusion and time wasted isn’t worth it.