Underutilized Escape Room Themes & Concepts

The popularity of escape rooms is on the rise, with more and more popping up across the country. The draw of these attractions has become widely apparent, and they can be used for all kinds of occasions: They’re great for fun dates, nights out with friends, family reunions, and even team-building exercises for work. But even with their increased popularity and prevalence, so many escape rooms end up falling back on the same tropes over and over again. So here, we’re going to take a look at some interesting concepts for future escape rooms that could be a bit different.

Verticality

Most escape rooms nowadays actually feature multiple “rooms” for a number of reasons. It keeps things fresh and fun, allows the creators to break up the puzzle density, and gives players that sense of awed excitement when they enter new rooms full of even more puzzles and mysteries. However, the majority of escape rooms do this by placing rooms side by side, allowing players to unlock them and advance one by one.

While this remains an exciting format, imagine the following instead: You and your team solve a particularly tricky puzzle, and suddenly, a trapdoor opens up in the floor! Or, alternatively, one opens up in the ceiling and a ladder drops down! This kind of vertical aspect could even be utilized as a part of the challenge, with players being required to arrange things on one floor to solve puzzles in the other. Odds are an escape room set up like this exists somewhere, but we’d love to see it become more common.

More Character Themes & Interaction

Plenty of escape rooms act as though they’re pitting you against great villains of history. Jack the Ripper, the Zodiac Killer, H. H. Holmes, and more have all served as thematic threats in numerous escape rooms. However, most of these rooms can only take this idea so far, typically implying that these characters have left you behind in some danger room of theirs. And there are really just a few characters used this way.

We’d love to see a few more creepy characters used in these rooms.
For instance, one that comes to mind is H.G. Wells’ “Invisible Man” who’s already making something of a pop culture comeback and is ideal for a mysterious setting. New Jersey’s pioneering slot sites are introducing numerous casino games to the American public – among them a slot reel based on The Invisible Man.
Additionally, Universal is rumored to be working on a film about the same character. Another relevant and fitting character would be Pennywise, the shapeshifting evil clown from Stephen King’s It who’s at the center of a modern horror franchise.

Best of all would be if such characters weren’t just introduced in the same fashion as Jack the Ripper and Co., but rather were played by actors (or even made animatronic) such that they could taunt you or answer questions.

Magic & The Supernatural

Escape rooms are meant to be spaces in which you suspend your disbelief and allow yourself to be drawn into the story or theme at hand. Yet even with that freedom, so many escape rooms decide to stick to scientific or historical themes, instead of going outside the box. Why not instead have an escape room revolve around something like ancient magical ruins, in which you need to draw runes or cast spells in order to move forward?

Or perhaps a room could take a spookier route and present a ghost haunting or demon ritual experience, where threatening, dark forces could be at play. Basically, since customers are already more than willing to mentally embrace fictional situations, it would be nice to see some escape room operators get a bit more fantastical about it all – or at least present these types of rooms as alternative options.

More Movie Magic

There are two feelings that every person loves to experience: feeling smart and feeling cool. Escape rooms, by virtue of being wholly puzzle-centric, often give people the first feeling. However, many fall short on the second, in that breaking codes and figuring out riddles doesn’t necessarily feel edgy or cool. It would be fun to see escape rooms embracing new activities to address this, and potentially tapping into the kinds of actions we commonly see in films. For instance, we all tend to think it’s pretty cool when action heroes and spy characters dodge through grids of obstacles to complete missions; so wouldn’t working in a laser-avoiding routine or “hazardous hallway” help to make an escape room feel edgy, rather than just intellectual?

Bringing in more of those not-quite-realistic but well-recognized concepts that are often seen in film and on TV would go a long way toward making escape room participants feel more like heroes. Really, you need only watch an action or adventure movie and you’ll start coming up with ideas in this vein, whether it’s dodging booby traps Indiana Jones-style or rappelling down a vault shaft as in Ocean’s 11.

To us, creativity is going to be the key to keeping the escape room trend going, and even improving these attractions. Hopefully, these kinds of ideas are able to persuade escape room creators to put that extra bit of effort into their challenges and features. Implemented correctly, these ideas and others like them could just add entirely new dimensions to the whole escape room concept.

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