Regardless if you are preparing for your first escape room attempt or you are a hardcore enthusiast we have some basic tips to help you maximize your experience and your chance for success. Before we get too far into this though, the most important tip is that this should be a FUN experience. Our games will transport you to a different time, place, or event where you can forget about the real world for an hour while you embark on a thrilling adventure with your friends. Have some fun and enjoy the ride! But hey we know everyone likes winning so back to the tips!
1. Communication is Key
When we get into a room, one of the first things my team does is call out what we’ve found and what’s immediately available to us. What types of locks do you see? Letters? Numbers? Keys? What’s that writing on the walls? Did you look under that book? Did you open it? You found headphones? Well, I found a jack that we can plug those into! I see a pattern on the wall of three repeating colors. Maybe try looking at it this way… you get the idea.
Working out loud ensures everyone in the game has all of the same information. The larger the team the more important it will become to make a point to make sure everyone has all of the same information. Occasionally stop what you are doing and get together to go over what you have found and what you are working on. You never know someone who was on the other side of the room might have the other half of the information you need, but you will only find out if you talk!
2. Sharing is caring
An escape room is a cooperative game, and humans only have two eyes (typically, I guess). When the tensions are high, which can happen pretty easily, sometimes people miss things. And no one can read your mind – so if you see something or have an idea – SPEAK UP! Silently solving something no one else could figure out might seem satisfying, but you will be kicking yourself when you overlooked something simple and no one could help you because you didn’t share what you found.
3. Check your work (and someone else’s)
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard a player ask, “Did you look in here?” Just look at it yourself! Even if someone did already look, no one is perfect and sometimes things are easy to miss. Check each others work! This could apply to anything from basic searching, to trying locks, or placing objects.
Having another player double check your work is one of the best ways to avoid careless mistakes in an escape room. These mistakes can cost you way more time than it takes someone to take a 2nd look.
Along the same idea is the concept that there are no bad ideas. Don’t be shy, if you have a thought give it a try and work it to completion. Some puzzles do not become clear until the very end so don’t give up part way through a process. If you get stumped, switch! Leave your ego at the door, let people double check and make sure you didn’t make a silly mistake and then return the favor.
4. Stay Calm & Focused
It’s pretty easy to get distracted in an escape room. There’s usually SO MUCH to see – especially when you first enter. The immersion of the set design and game might just transport your mind into fantasy land, snap out of it!
Once you have completed an initial search and think you have a puzzle or two identified stay focused on them. It can be a good idea to divide up and then swap if you feel stuck, but don’t just wander off and leave a puzzle half finished and never return. You found 3 differences leading you to 3 letters and there is a 4 letter lock right there… I bet there is a 4th difference you haven’t found, keep going!
5. Organization Wins Games
“Did we do anything with this?” If we only had a $1 for everytime someone asked this…. We would build new rooms with the giant pile of money we had.
Keep track of your stuff! It can be super helpful to have a designated area to place things you find and to set things aside you are finished with. Remember codes to locks, keys, etc should all be single use items. So once you open that lock leave the key in it or forget about the code you use. Time to focus on some of the unused items you have left. Good organization of items along with sharing information vocally are almost always the ways really good teams set themselves apart.
6. Keep It Simple
Sometimes 2 + 2 does in fact = 4. Other times it equals purple, but usually just 4. We aren’t sure when exactly it happens but it seems at some point in high school the innocent mind of a child mutates into the “lets over complicate EVERYTHING” brain of an adult.
Quickly they become world class experts at over complicating simple tasks. Ever heard that the simplest solution is the correct one? There is good logic behind that saying. This does not mean the puzzles will all be easy, but they should make sense.
When you have what may be a bit of a crazy idea that isn’t working, stop for a second and think would this be fair or logical for a random person to make these connections or assumptions? Typically when players go way too far down the rabbit hole if they just stop a second they realize there is no way anyone could be expected to do all of that. Go back to basics, and follow the tips above. Still stuck? Read on…
7. Hints are a good thing
Games have systems for hints for a reason, use them! Time to set down the ego, we know, we know you are going to do the room the fastest ever without a single shred of help, oh and it is the first time you have ever played? Wow! Sadly we hear this almost daily.
Escape rooms are challenging, some are incredibly challenging, and most games around the country operate well under 50% success rates. Typically the goal is to have every team finish or be very close to finishing when time runs out. If the game allows for hints (and any good one should) use it as a resource. Has it been 5 or 10 minutes without any progress? No new ideas? Time to get help. You are not going to get an answer, but instead a nudge in the right direction, something to help you get back on track and moving forward. Don’t let pride stand in the way of success.
8. Listen to the Game Master
While we’re on the topic of hints, if your game master has given you a hint – FOCUS ON THAT. Your game master has eyes and ears inside the room, so they know what you need. Their job is to get you back on track and working on the most important puzzle available at any given moment. We are not going to tell you to focus on the fish tank in the corner if what you really need to do is pry open the box of dynamite that’s in the opposite corner. (No animals were harmed in the writing of this blog, and sadly the fire marshal doesn’t let us use real dynamite.) It is always a mind boggling thing to witness when a team asks for a hint, gets the hint, then promptly ignores it. The game master is not there to trick or mislead you. When they speak, I would listen.
9. Rules are meant to be followed
Every escape room will have their own set of rules but the main core one will always be true. Don’t break stuff!
More so it is a game for your mind not your muscle. When they tell you that things should open or move with only a finger of force or that you don’t need to climb on furniture because everything is easily in reach, use this to help you! Quit fiddling with that cabinet that is obviously locked and not opening. No, getting a friend to help you pull is not what you should be doing. That air vent 10 feet in the air look suspicious… hmm I wonder what it is hiding? Spoiler alert, it is hiding air, now get off your friends shoulders. These rules keep you safe and protect the game from damage, but they also can help save you valuable time.
10. Have Fun!
At the very core this is meant to be a very unique fun experience. Try not to stress or worry too much about the win or the loss and just enjoy the ride and make some sweet memories with your friends and family.