Escape rooms have surged in popularity as a fresh new option for team-building activities, date nights and family outings, and while the stakes aren’t exactly life or death, most participants go in to win. Regardless of the level of difficulty you’re hoping to conquer, the following tips and tricks culled from escape room game guides and veteran players can help you emerge victorious on your next escape room effort.
How to beat an escape room? Assess Your Team
Few factors are as critical to escape room success as the makeup and mindset of your team. If you have any influence over the members of your group, try to recruit people with positive, can-do attitudes who won’t get flustered in challenging situations. Assembling a group with a wide range of skill sets and problem-solving approaches will give you the best chance of overcoming adversity and unlocking tough clues. Don’t worry about stacking your team with book-smart geniuses and intellectuals; common sense and unique perspectives can be just as valuable as academic knowledge in an escape room. Most importantly, ensure that every team member is committed to working together to succeed as a group—there’s no time for oversized egos or showboating in the fast-paced environment of an escape room.
Get to the venue well ahead of your team’s appointed time to reduce the stress of last-minute arrivals. Having a few extra minutes to shake out any nerves, meet your teammates and briefly discuss strategy can give you an essential confidence boost when the game begins. You should also make sure to visit the restroom and handle any housekeeping issues before entering the room, since the clock won’t stop for nature’s call after the game starts.
Know the Rules
Before your time in the escape room begins, your guide will go over the rules of the game with your group. Pay close attention to this information, since it will not only help you to work efficiently to solve the game, but it will also prevent your team from wasting time on prohibited or ineffective activities. Items that shouldn’t be touched will usually be marked with a sticker. If you have any questions or need clarification on any of the guidelines, be sure to ask your game guide before getting started.
Take the Intro Video Seriously
Escape rooms are usually constructed around a specific theme or storyline that shape your objectives in solving the puzzle. The introductory video at the start of the game lays out this theme and can contain critical information for finding clues and ultimately escaping the room. Your mind may be tempted to ignore the video and go straight to looking for clues, but stay focused. At the very least, the video will immerse you in the room’s story and put you in the right mindset to succeed—and it may well include details you’ll need later in the game.
Divide and Conquer
When the clock starts ticking down, each member of the team should attack a different area of the room. Open every door, drawer, box and container; look under furniture, rugs and shelves; flip through books and papers. When you find an item that’s relevant to the puzzle, place it in a designated common area so the team can come together to begin piecing together the clues.
Keep Communication Lines Open
It can be easy to get stuck in your own head in an escape room, but clues that may be stumping you could be obvious to one of your teammates. Bouncing ideas off each other will get you much further than struggling with them by yourself, and it also prevents team members from wasting time on a clue that’s already been solved by others. Share information and any conclusions you reach and talk through your observations with everyone else. Constant communication is the most important factor in your eventual success.
If you’re struggling with a particular puzzle, hand it off to a teammate after briefing him or her on what you’ve been able to figure out so far. If you see someone looking stumped or unsure of what to do next, don’t be shy about directing them toward a specific clue or task. Every puzzle will have to get solved before you can win the game, so do your best to make sure every team member has something to work on at all times. If someone gets stuck, switch puzzles or clues with them to bring a fresh perspective to the problem.
Ask for a Clue if You Get Stuck
Some teams refuse to ask the game guide for a clue on principle—they’d rather fail at the fame than get even a little bit of help. But there’s no shame in asking for assistance; it may give you just the edge you need to keep moving forward and ultimately reach your goal, and it’s certainly better than spending your time feeling frustrated and getting nowhere.
No matter what, remember that you’re in the escape room to have fun, spend time with friends and possibly make new ones. It’s not always about how to beat an escape room, but instead the journey to get there. If the tension in the room gets high, take a deep breath and switch to a different task for the moment. As long as the team stays relaxed, flexible and focused, your chances of solving the game—and enjoying yourself while doing it—are excellent.