From my first time experiencing an escape room as a consumer to my first foray into the escape room industry as a host, I’ve had the unique opportunity to view the experience from two different perspectives. As a fellow escape room enthusiast and someone who assists in the creative process, I’ve developed distinctive mindsets when approaching these immersive adventures. On one hand, I felt like I had a significant advantage – like I inputted some insane Game Shark cheat that rewarded me with the power and knowledge to breeze through escape rooms like they were nothing. On the other, this relative ease came to the point where I couldn’t enjoy the escape room experience from a consumer standpoint (at least not to the extent of what I would like to).
And I love a good challenge. I really do.
It brings me back to my childhood days of relentlessly playing Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! on NES and getting knocked down repeatedly by the champ, himself.
Sounds frustrating, right?
Although it’s a boxing game on the outside, it’s very much an intricate puzzle game once dissected. The game is simple: you play as the amateur boxer, Little Mac, as he challenges different fighters, leading up to the ultimate title bout with Mike Tyson. As soon as I was done with my homework, I would sit in my room and play this game over and over, studying Tyson’s attack patterns and practicing new strategies.
Even though it took countless more tries to finally dethrone the champ with my flurry of 1-2 punches and uppercuts, what kept me motivated was the challenge. With each fight, I got better and better. My reflexes had considerably improved and I was able to nail down the timing for things like blocking, dodging, and counter-attacking. The thrill of becoming the champ was my constant fuel and, once I had obtained the title – man, did it feel good.
That same sense of challenge and thrill should be carried towards any kind of game, especially escape rooms. A lot of the time, people ask me for tips when taking on one of our escape rooms at Brainy Actz. I don’t really like to give too much away, but I decided I’d take to the time to go over the best general, spoiler-free tips for successfully completing an escape room.
Without further ado, here they are:
1. Communicate and Cooperate
This should pretty much be a given since escape rooms are a team building exercise, but you’d be surprised how many groups fail to even comprehend this part. Remember: “There is no ‘I’ in ‘Team’.” Chances are you’re not going to be able to solve every single puzzle single-handedly. You’re going to need to rely on your teammates to share their knowledge with you and how they were able to crack a certain code based on their set of reasoning.
Escape rooms can be really tricky if no one is on the same page when solving its respective puzzles. Sometimes, certain puzzles will have complex layers that might call for a different perspective when solving it. Working as a team is extremely useful in this case and will only propel you to further success during your experience.
2. Plan Accordingly
One of the biggest reasons why many groups fail to complete an escape room is due to poor time management. Some groups take it easy partway during their experience because they assume they’re almost done solving the room.
But…little do they know, there’s a second (or third, or fourth, etc.) room waiting for them to analyze its puzzles.
And that’s when assuming you’re close to the finish line comes back to haunt you. Always go in with the mentality that there could be more than one room. This will save you time and you’ll develop a better groove while solving puzzles and riddles within the room(s).
When it all comes down to it, good planning is half the success (the other half is actually solving the puzzles).
3. Don’t Get Too Stressed Out
Now, I get it: 60 minutes on the clock in a race to solve riddles and puzzles to escape the room can be pretty daunting to say the least. I know the adrenaline kicks into high gear once you’re in the room and you’re dying to successfully complete the challenge within the allotted time, but just stop running rampant for one second.
It’s important to keep a level head during these experiences because you will either waste time being stressed out or think too impulsively.
Remember: escape rooms are games.
You’re in no immediate danger. Nothing bad will happen if you fail to complete the escape room in 60 minutes.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s definitely a good thing to be imaginative, but not if it harms your well-being. Work with a sense of urgency, but don’t let the stress and pressure overwhelm you.
4. Understand Patterns
A general good piece of advice to follow would be to make note of certain pieces of information given to you during your experience. If you come across key dates or phone numbers, write them down in one place to save you time from scavenging through countless objects you’ve inspected already.
Sometimes, in order to solve a puzzle, you need to identify any patterns or unique traits within it. Don’t focus on coming up with some elaborate method for solving a puzzle from the get-go. Instead, come up with simple ideas and eliminate them once each method is proven incorrect. In actuality, common sense will go a long, long way in solving a good chunk of puzzles without overthinking.
By understanding any patterns involved, you’ll begin to know how a certain puzzle works and be that much closer to finding a way to solve it.
5. When In Doubt, Use Your Hints
This might come as a surprise to a lot of people, but I feel like a decent amount of groups fail to escape the room because they don’t use their hints, either out of pride or they just plainly forget.
Now, it’s one thing to refuse to use hints if you’re competitive and have done well over 20+ escape rooms, but if it’s the difference between escaping and not escaping, then I’d rather use a hint or two.
Hints can also save you time and effort. Sure, I know you’d probably like to be able to solve each and every puzzle on your own too, but sometimes, there’s just not enough time, especially when you might be faced with numerous puzzles with only 10 minutes to go.
Of course, it’s completely up to your discretion.
And, there you have it! If you’re planning on venturing into an escape room in the near future, I highly advise the use of these tips. You never know when they just might come in handy.