How to Beat an Escape Room
Your boss mentioned that the whole department will be tackling an escape room as part of a team building exercise, or perhaps it is a group of friends who have invited you for this fun activity over the weekend.
While you are excited about taking part in a fun activity with your colleagues or friends, there’s one problem.
You don’t know what an escape room is or what it entails.
Or perhaps you do, but you have no idea how to beat it, despite the fact that you want your team to emerge victorious.
Probably you have even attempted one before and ended up being saved by the clock.
If any of the above sounds like you, you have to the right place.
In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about escape rooms and how to beat them, and when the weekend comes around, you’ll be in a position to outshine your friends and lead your team to victory.
WHAT IS AN ESCAPE ROOM?
An Escape room is a one-hour real-life adventure game that combines an entirely new way of story-telling with challenging puzzles and interactive adventures.
In the game, participants are locked inside a room and are given 60 minutes to escape from the room by solving some interesting but brain-wracking puzzles.
Currently, there are approximately six thousand escape rooms globally.
Escape rooms are rapidly gaining popularity, and gamers are enjoying new and exciting experiences in places as far as England, Korea, and Thailand, and business is booming for the owners of escape room companies.
A survey conducted from December 2018 to earlier this year dubbed The State of the Escape Room Industry Report 2018 revealed that escape room businesses are earning up to $4 Million a year. This margin is projected to shoot to $6 Million in 2019.
THE GAME ROOM
The game room is exactly that. A cell-like room where the players are locked in together as a team.
Each game usually has its own peculiar mission, and the game room is typically themed according to the mission that you have to complete in order to escape the room.
The missions could vary from escaping out of prison (think the TV show Prison Break!) to robbing a piece of art from a world-famous museum, or solving a crime scene. In most cases, you will be allowed to pick the mission you want to engage in.
Like I mentioned, the escape room is a group activity, which means that you will need some other people with you, such as colleagues or friends.
However, you can also show up alone and form a team with other people who have also come to play the game.
Actually, this is a great way of meeting new people and making friends. Akos Gabosky of PanIQ Escape Room Franchise testifies that he has seen many people make life time friends in the escape room who were complete strangers at the start of the game.
Once you step into the escape room, you are taken to another world whose theme matches your mission.
This could be a prison cell with bars and your personal toilet and sink, a crime scene, a sinking submarine from which you need to escape, and so on.
The theme of the room allows you to feel as if you have been transported to that place and are living in that reality.
Once in the game room, a game guide will assist you to ensure you understand what the mission is, the rules of the game, and whatever clarifications you may need.
You will most likely watch a video introduction (though different escape rooms have different practices) so as to better comprehend the mission.
Once you are done watching the video, the countdown beings, and you have exactly sixty-minutes to solve the puzzle and escape the room.
From this point, you and your friends have to find different clues to help you get out of the escape room.
Even if you are unable to find all the clues and escape from the room on time, you will still have had fun with your friends or colleagues, and you can always give it another try some other time.
Therefore, don’t put yourself under a lot of pressure. You should treat it as a learning experience and an opportunity to have fun.
Now you know what escape rooms are, you probably can’t wait to know the strategies on how to beat an escape room.
Fortunately, we did the research for you, tested out different strategies in several escape rooms of varying difficulty and came up with ten golden rules that will ensure you solve the puzzles, work with your teammates and make the escape on time.
Let’s dive in.
STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU BEAT THE ESCAPE ROOM
Know How Escape Rooms are Designed – Rules, Tricks, Type of Rooms
While escape rooms are created by different designers, most of them sort of have the same principle and rules.
However, there are certain rooms that are mainly made to trick experienced gamers, but if this is the case, your game guide will warn you.
Game guides are the people who welcome you to the escape room, give you the rules of the game and meet you once you have escaped to congratulate you.
Pay attention to your guide – they can offer tips that will be crucial in helping you escape from the room.
Arming yourself with this knowledge will lessen the time you spend in the escape room.
The game guides will also be watching you through the cameras installed in the room.
Most escape rooms utilize the ‘single lock, single-use’ technique meaning that once you have found a clue, you won’t need to use it again for the rest of the game.
In addition, in most of the games, says Michal Burger, winner of the 2019 Red Bull Global Championships, you won’t be required to do tasks that take too much time, such as reading sixty pages of a book.
Remember, it’s a one-hour game, so you will be given tasks that you can complete within the countdown.
It is critical to listen to your game guide in order to familiarize yourself with the escape room.
There could be items that you are not allowed to come in contact with in the room.
Going against these instructions might cause chaos and some devices may not work, leaving you in the place confused and locked in.
Choose Your Group and Leader Wisely
The first thing you need to do before you play the game is to choose your teammates.
A functional group consists of about four to six people, even though some escape rooms will allow up to eight or ten people.
Your team members are your greatest resource for getting out of the room.
Their attitude, skills, energy and capacity to work together will determine whether you will successfully escape. They will also influence the experience you have while playing the game and completing your mission.
Red Bull Escape Game designer Dr. Scott Nicholson advises that diversity is the greatest strength when choosing a team.
Ensure that the abilities and skills of your team members are different, ranging from the creative to the analytical.
This will help bring different insights into the escape room. Remember, it’s not the smartest brains that escape in time. The genius lies in the synergy of the team.
Apart from diversity, you need to choose people that you are comfortable with and who you can have fun with. This will ease communication within the group.
The divide and conquer approach is very important when it comes to solving the escape room puzzle. A common rule of thumb is to section the escape room and assign each to a group member.
For example, if your team is composed of six people, divide the room into six sections that each member will be responsible for.
Another important thing you need to do is to choose your group leader or project manager. The project manager will not be involved in finding clues.
Their job is to gather the information and clues that other team members have and consolidate them so as to ease the process.
Tip: Don’t worry if you do not have friends to bring to the game. Once in the escape room, you will find people like you who are excited to experience the game room with total strangers who might end up being your lifetime escape buddies.
Carefully Watch the Intro Video
The escape room has stories and themes that help you immerse into your mission.
Listen to the story that you are told in the introduction. Don’t start solving clues even without getting acquainted with the mission.
Escape room pro Michelle Bassaly says that you could easily get some clues by watching the video keenly.
The video will inform you about your mission and help you get settled in this new environment. It will also state the various tasks you need to perform in order to escape the room.
This does not mean that you should not look around the room and take in the situation during the video.
Actually, it can help jog your brain and get you more acquainted with the room.
Explore the Room and Look Out for Standard Codes
Once the countdown begins, disperse your team around the room and thoroughly begin checking for your clues. Open up anything you can find in the room and look.
Check under tables, chairs, rugs, and everything that is not permanent in the room. Ferret through the books placed on the shelves, and closely check the items on the wall.
Check out for bold colors, simple shapes, display style numbers and other types of codes you may be familiar with.
Nevertheless, the game designers do not assume that you have any specialized know-how.
For instance, if your clue is in braille, you don’t have to have memorized the entire braille alphabet to discover the key.
Your game guide will assist you throughout the adventure by giving you relevant clues.
All you need is to detect the code type in use which will help identify other clues within the escape room.
Rotate Your Team
A new perspective and a fresh pair of eyes might be helpful, so assign new sections to your team every now and then.
Do not be afraid to delegate.
Rotating your group members will help identify clues that another person might have missed.
Rotating will also ensure that your team keeps energized because staring at one place for too long can cause boredom and fatigue, not to mention hopelessness. “You do not want to get this game boring,” warns Game Guides of the International championships for the Red Bull Escape game.
Let the Entire Team Know What You Find
Verbalize the clues that you find so that your team members know what has already been found. Yell out if possible and let the team leader hear you so that he or she can record what you have discovered.
Communicating is also vital because your clue might be connected with another that your teammate is looking for. The clues are linked because they are the secret to completing the puzzle.
When you verbalize, you will see the significance of the other items in the room. Speaking with your team members will help you work together with your team in beating the escape room.
Organize the Clues and Have a Discard Area
Escape Room Game Host Kristofer Riffel says that organization is the key to beat the escape room. He advises teams to gather all objects found in their own location and have a discard area for the ones you do not need anymore.
It is easy for players to forget the clues that they have already found as there is a lot of items around the room. Having a discard area prevents you from wasting time pursuing clues that are no longer useful.
Ask for Clues
Should you ask for a clues? And if yes, when should you ask for one? Teams usually deal with this dilemma while in the escape room.
There is a tendency by pros to decline using their hints because they do not want to seem stupid.
Game guides warns against the bravado of teams of failing to ask for clues.
This is why your game guides are there. Listen to them. They know everything about the game. It’s meant to be exciting rather than frustrating.
The room can get frustrating when you have been standing for ten minutes and haven’t solved one clue. If you are stuck for more than five minutes, it might be time to ask for a clue.
Most escape rooms will give you up to three clues, so you should use them so that you can move on and beat the countdown.
Time is Critical
An hour can go very fast in an escape room, and you might be surprised that the time is almost over while you are nowhere near completing the mission.
Therefore it is very important to keep an eye on the clock.
Your team leader should act as the time keeper because they are not looking for clues.
The time keeper will help you know when the time is right to ask for a clue.
They will also know when to rotate the team and when the countdown is done.
As most escape rooms do not allow you to enter with a phone in the game, we recommend you wear a wristwatch or carry a manual timer.
The escape room can drain most of your mental energy and you might become frustrated when you do not get a clue or key. The timer could also make you feel like you are spinning out of control. Ignore the urge to quit or leave the room.
Instead, work with your teammates and try some breathing exercises so as to remain calm. If you do not find a clue somewhere, move on and look elsewhere.
CRITICAL THINGS TO REMEMBER:
Escape rooms are mentally challenging. Therefore, you need to organize your team beforehand.
You can even look for online escape rooms and practice so that you can be familiar with the game before you get into the actual adventure.
Ensure you get there on time so that your energy is not spent on the road rather than the game. You will also psyche your team if you show that the game is important to you.
Show up fifteen minutes before the game and be ready to conquer! Eat something to get you energized for the game.
One of the biggest mistake a player can make is coming into the escape room drunk. You might be tempted to drown a few shots of your favorite drink but this will only make your game chaotic and annoying, as well as making your time in the room longer.
You need to be active during the game and alcohol only makes you slower, and you will end up letting your team down.
Our game experts advise you to choose light and comfortable clothes.
While in the game, you will be required to do tasks that involve moving your body.
These including bending over and climbing up chairs and tables.
Something as simple as sweats and t-shirts will be enough to take to the game as well as low, comfortable shoes that are easy to move in.
Communication is a must-do for teams. Being able to listen to each other’s opinions and telling each other the clues you find will help you complete the game faster.
Most guides agree that groups who talk and listen to each other have the highest chances of beating the escape room.
Let Everyone Participate
There are some people who take over the room and do not allow their teammates to give opinions and suggestions on how to find clues. These people often diminish the energy of their teams.
They ruin the chance of escaping in time by thinking that they are better equipped than the rest. Do not be that person! Allow your team members to participate.
Have a Positive Attitude
A faint heart is the surest way to lose the game. It is crucial to the completion of the mission and to your team if you come in with a confident spirit.
However, take care not to be over-confident as this can ruin your team’s energy. If you get stuck along the way, embrace it and work with your team to solve it. Your ultimate goal should be to have fun.
You are not there to accomplish some big mission that will save the world.
You are just here to enjoy the game with those closest to you. Escape rooms are meant to be entertaining.
Resist the urge to get personal and distressed. Immerse yourself completely and don’t think about the countdown too much.
Remember, even if you are unable to beat the countdown, the world will not collapse around you.
Practice makes perfect! If you like escape rooms, do not let that bad first time deter you from playing.
It can be difficult at first, but once you have done it several times, you will find that it’s exciting and challenging but not impossible.
Once you have completed your mission, your game guides and host will be there to congratulate you and clarify any questions you might have about the game. They will also inform you of any other clues that you might have missed.
Most likely, your game host will offer to take a team photo for your memories.
Depending on the company, you may be offered coffee and get a chance to talk to the game guides. If you have an amazing experience, be sure to review your game host online to promote them.
Game guides usually advise players to move on to other missions once they have completed one rather than replaying it.
While you might become a master at that particular theme, you will be denying yourself of other more exciting and new adventures.
Armed with these tips, you can now look forward to an escape room sessions with your friends and colleagues.
Remember that beating the countdown is dependent on your creativity, analytical skills, team work, communication, and a positive attitude throughout the game.
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