All the escape room tips and tricks below have been compiled from our experience as The Escape Room Guys. Also check out the Rules we use when playing a room.
General Tips and Tricks
- If provided, use the white board.
- If you are an enthusiast, buy yourself a Boogie Board and take it with you (in case the room doesn’t have anything to take notes on).
- Clues may be used more than once unless specified by your Game Master (GM) in the briefing. (This is on our standard list of pre-escape questions for the GM.)
- Don’t overthink things. Generally, you won’t need outside knowledge to complete a room (and if you do, the room probably isn’t designed very well). There should be something in the room that leads you to the solution. Look at props (things you find in the room) if you get stuck.
- Locks – if you’re having trouble opening a lock, make sure you’re resetting it properly before each attempt (sometimes this is done by pushing in before pulling, or turning the dial back to zero a few times).
- Speaking of locks, we’ve encountered the following types:
- Numerical combination (think a MasterLock)
- Directional (instead of numbers, you push the lock in a series of directions – right, left, up or down)
- 3/4/5 digit padlocks (can be alpha, numeric, or alphanumeric)
- Digital combination locks (instead of a dial with numbers you spin, the numbers/letters are around the lock perimeter and you just press on them)
- Electromagnetic locks (put an object in a place to complete a circuit)
- Date locks
- Briefcase or suitcase locks
- Medieval style metal locks
- Read everything TWICE. (Refer to Rule #3)
- Look for Bolded items, the first letter of each row or column, or capital letters or words that are missing letters.
- Don’t just look around. Study details and observe. (Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes…)
- PARTICIPATE! You will only have as much fun as the energy you put into the game.
- COMMUNICATE. Rooms are more easily solvable when everyone communicates. Tell people what you’ve found or what type of lock you’re looking at (“I have a combo lock with 5 digits that starts with alpha and then goes numeric”).
- Beware red herrings. These are things in the room that look like puzzles or things that you need to study or solve but have no effect on the room itself.
- Book the entire room with your friends (unless you don’t mind meeting some new people). Keep in mind that said new people may be really dumb, drunk/hungover, annoying, or smell bad. You are trapped in a small room with them for 45-60 minutes, after all.
- This ‘Tip’ is in here because, well, experience.
- Divide and Conquer. The room likely has a lot to look at and many things to review. If you all stand around the same puzzle or in the same area, your chances of winning the room decrease.
- Give your teammates a chance to explain how they would attempt to solve a puzzle if you are stuck (be patient and inclusive).
- If playing with an Escape Room Virgin (ERV) or an Escape Room Newbie (ERN), consider pairing them with someone who has played many games so they understand what they are looking for.
- Or, if nothing else, have someone explain how a puzzle was solved or a lock opened so they understand.
- Don’t blindly assume that the rules for one location transfer to another. Listen carefully to your Game Master in the pre-escape briefing. They will tell you the rules. If they say NOT to do something, then don’t do it. Other than that, all bets are off (we say this because we’ve encountered rooms where they’ve had false HVAC vents where clues were hidden). If you have any qualms about looking somewhere you might not want to look (for example, the almighty air vent), ask the Game Master for a clarification (“Can you confirm that I’m allowed to explore this vent, or take this item apart?”).
Questions for the Game Master
- What’s the actual, physical objective?
- Are we looking for an object? Have to get something out of a safe? Do we need a key to open the door to leave? Or, a combination of each of those? (This should be clear by the end of the briefing.)
- Is anything in the room used more than once (i.e., one key that opens two locks, or a prop that may be used more than once)?
- Can we use our cellphones as flashlights or devices on which to take notes? (Note: Absolutely do not take photos, even selfies, in the room unless you ask for permission first. Sometimes, they will allow you to take a photo after the room is done if it’s not against their rules).
- If we ask for a percentage of how far we are through the room (i.e. 50%, 70%, 90%), will you give us that information? (This can help your team decide whether they want to ask for a clue or not depending on how far you are through the room and how much time you have left remaining.)
- Is there a maximum number of attempts with this electronic lock that we can enter before it locks us out? If so, how many and how much time are we locked out for?
- Do you maintain a Leaderboard?
- If so, can we ask for help/a clue and still get on it?
- How does it work (number of people and time, or just time overall)?
19 thoughts on “Tips & Tricks”
Thanks for the tips on escape rooms! My wife and I are going to an escape room for the first time this weekend, and we want to make sure we are prepared. Thanks for mentioning that you should read everything twice so you don’t miss anything. We will make sure we are thorough.
Hey Ernest. Glad we could help!
What’s the name of the location and the room you’re doing? We’ll check them out.
how was your experience?
My husband and I have never been to an escape room but have been wanting to. I like that you gave the tip to actively participate and pay attention to the details in order to make the most of it. This seems like a great idea for a group activity and a way to get everyone involved by working together to solve a problem. I’m excited for when we finally go to one!
Let us know if you do a room and report back on the experience!
My boyfriend and I are going to our first escape room, and we are wanting to have a few tricks up our sleeves. I like how you pointed out that we actually need to participate wholeheartedly to make it fun. I think this is something that everyone who goes to these things need to know or else they won’t have a great time.
We always tell people they need to do 2 rooms before they decide to write off escape rooms in general. It’s that second one, now that they have a better idea of what an escape room is, that really determines it.
Let us know how it goes and if you use any of our tips and tricks (or the rules) during your experience.
I like how you suggested booking the entire room with your friends. It makes sense why you would want to be in a room with them for 45-60 minutes, rather than with strangers. My cousin has been looking into fun activities to do with her friends. Checking into an escape room could be a fun option for her.
The rate of escape rooms is growing exponentially around the globe right now. We took our kids to enjoy some family time and we had a great time.
We used http://www.theplanetsescaperooms.com to find one nearby.
Escape rooms are now adapting to a wide variety of crowds from kids to elderly.
I do believe I would have a full team when we go to an escape room next week. As you’ve mentioned we would feel more comfortable being with people we know since we’ll be more open to participating and in return have a lot of fun with the game. I’ll try to remember your tips so that we can successfully beat our first ever escape room together. Honestly, I am quite excited for it had been a while since we’ve managed to play a game together.
What I liked the most was your tip #6 and #7 where you said that it’s best to observe rather than just looking around, as well as participating because I will only have fun if I put energy into the game. I was planning to play in an escape room with my friends prior to starting our dissertation because it will strengthen our teamwork even more. Aside from that, I have been wanting to try an escape room activity for a while now, and I finally found an excuse to do it. Thanks for sharing. It pumped me up even more!
I think people are suppose not to take things too seriously! Cuz it become really stressful for others…You should’t give up after few tries but don’t pick on other people cuz you will ruin the team spirit. Also great tips 🙂
You’ve go great tips for doing an escape room. I’m hoping to do my first one with a group of friends soon, if everything works out. I’ll remember to communicate with everyone, like you said.
Another good tip would be don’t be a dick to the host.
They will likely have heard every joke, seen every ‘funny’ thing that can be done with props, etc. and won’t be amused by your ‘hilarious’ antics.
They want you to go in, and enjoy the game. Be courteous; arrive when you’re meant to, don’t expect staff to alter their schedule because you couldn’t arrive at the appointed time – would you expect a movie theatre to hold the start for you?
The host will need to reset, so doing things like locking all the locks together, or putting props in hard to reach or hidden places is a really dick move.
Game hosts talk to each other. A lot. Strive to be a group that gets them telling fellow hosts about how awesome you were to look after, how well you listened, how well you did in not breaking props, and how much fun you had. Don’t be a group that the host warns others about, a group that ignored instructions, that got abusive, that damaged the room.
You’ll find good groups sometimes get extras, be it a discount code, a bit of extra time to do photos, chat from the host. A good host appreciates a good group.
This is a great list of tips. I’m taking my two children to a escape room nearby for the first time in January. Should I bring a pen and notepad for notetaking? I chose a fairly easy first time escape room called the cabin in the woods in Sutton. How do I prepare them? We have booked the tickets already. January cannot come fast enough.
What do I expect? I think that a escape room is a great way to develop that all important sense of team work and communication too as well. Just to add my girl and boy are three. I am quite excited and nervous at the same time. My children have never been to a escape room before however.
This is their first time ever literally. I want them to be involved and also to learn about teamwork. Tips on how to do that are gratefully welcome, many thanks! How did you pick a escape room? To me, this is a good chance for them to develop their teamwork skills along with their oral communication skills and problem solving ability. But I do not want to frustrate them either.
Hey there! So, we usually pick our rooms based on the theme/story line via the locations website. If it intrigues us in the least, we will go.
As for teamwork, whenever we introduce a new person to our escape group, we always either have them read our rules beforehand or brief them before we enter, just so everyone’s on the same page. As your kids are a little young, you can probably just start with the basics of say what you find and make sure you’re listening to everyone’s suggestions. Unless something is clearly and blatantly wrong, everything is possible. 🙂 ~J
Thanks. I am hoping to do another escape room in September. I got them to point to what they found last time. This time I may ask them to draw or write down the name of the object that was found. Which escape room do you recommend? I live in Surrey.