Are you new to escape rooms? Thinking about trying one out but not confident in your abilities? Here are the five tips and tricks from escape room experts that will help you win:
1. Focus on Teamwork
Working together effectively with the other people in your escape room is the most important tip on this list. Forming cohesive teams can be a challenge in public escape rooms where twenty-somethings might be put with a couple of forty somethings and their kids. Sometimes these kinds of diverse dynamics can work out, but other times it leads to frustration. Even strangers in the same age group can falter as a team because they don’t already have rapport and a shared communication style. If you can swing it, look for private rooms and go with a group of friends, family, or coworkers. Communication is a big deal when you are scrambling to find clues and use them effectively within a time limit, so groups that communicate well have the best chance of success.
Speaking of teamwork, size matters when it comes to your team. Veteran escape roomers have found that the maximum allowed number of people in an escape room can often be too many. This depends on the escape room and the people involved, but sometimes larger groups are more inefficient and make things less fun. You may end up having some members who don’t have much to do or struggling to figure out who’s done what and who has a clue you need to connect to your clue. We’re not saying that eight or ten people can’t have a great escape room experience, just keep this one in mind and choose your room accordingly.
Now that you’ve put together your perfect clue solving crew, you have to be willing to work as a team. This means listening to teammates and being willing to try new ideas, even if they seem a little crazy (remember you’re here to have fun.) Be willing to pass the ball to someone else if you’ve been struggling with a clue, you win or lose as a group, so it doesn’t matter who solves what. Be aware of what’s been done and what hasn’t, and don’t be afraid to work on something that no one else is working on. Sometimes a particularly difficult puzzle might require input from the whole group, but everyone gathering around one clue can also be a waste of time. Finally, make sure everyone in the group knows to shout loud when they find or solve something. That way, everyone will know how you’re progressing (and if the other half of their clue has just been found.)
2. Hone Your Organization Skills
Escape rooms are filled with clutter. You’re going to find keys, letters, locks, books and all sorts of other stuff. Some of it will end up being useful, and a few things might be red herrings. There might also be objects that are used more than once and others that are only used once. This is why organization skills can make or break an escape room attempt. If you don’t know which keys have been used and which objects have been searched, you’ll end up going in circles.
Our expert escapers recommend leaving keys in locks since they are usually only used once (if one is used a second time, you’ll know where to find it), and stacking other objects according to use. For instance, found but unused keys and other objects should be placed together in a central area, and objects that have been used in a different area. Loose objects like coats, hollow books, etc., searched for clues could also be put in a stack, so people don’t waste time re-searching them.
3. Be Thorough and Think Outside the Box
An eye for detail comes in handy in escape rooms. Instead of only looking in the obvious places, use all your senses to search less obvious nooks and crannies. Run your hand over the tops of high shelves, search clothing pockets, behind cabinets, and other hard to see places. Be on the lookout for hidden compartments and for objects hiding in plain sight. If you have a hunch about something, go with it! Just be careful not to break anything and be sure to follow the instructions the Game Master gave you about places and objects you shouldn’t mess with.
Think about the theme of the escape room you’re playing and look for clues that would make sense within that theme. Most escape rooms don’t require prior knowledge to win, but that doesn’t mean that your prior knowledge of horror films or wizard stories won’t help you solve your horror or wizard themed escape room. Some rooms might have a storytelling aspect to them, and if you notice the narrative flow, you can figure out how everything is connected and where your next clue should be.
4. Know Where to Look for Hints and When to Ask for Them
Most escape room experiences begin with a video. It’s meant to immerse you in the room’s theme and set the tone for your experience, but it will also give you hints about where to start. Many players are so eager to begin their search that they don’t pay full attention to the video. Looking around the room while the video’s on might feel like you are gaining extra time, but it can actually cost you time if you miss out on an important hint. In escape rooms with actors, don’t be afraid to interact with them. They make the game more fun, and even if you aren’t specifically asking for a hint, you might find one in what the actors say and do if you pay attention. If your team is truly stuck, don’t hesitate to ask for a hint. Most teams that win do so with only seconds to spare, so even one minute standing around doing nothing could sabotage your chances.
5. Attitude is Everything
Remember that first and foremost, you are here to have fun. If people in your group start to get upset or frustrated, remind them of that goal, and encourage them to take a deep breath and try out a different puzzle. It should go without saying, but always play sober, everyone will have more fun, and your chances of success will be much higher.
Putting some thought as a team into which room you choose is also a good idea. Some escape rooms include elements that might be inappropriate for a person prone to panic attacks, for instance. The most successful teams are those where everyone is on board and ready to have a great time. Lastly, remember that while winning is the goal, it’s not a requirement for a good time. Many seasoned escapers admit that some of their best escape room memories are from rooms they lost. Sometimes the challenge is the best part.
Want to put your skills to the test? Try out our new Nightmare Escape Room and find out if you have what it takes to escape the Lord of Nightmares.