Do you know what an escape room is? You probably do, or you’ve been living under a rock for the last 15 years. This popular game has been spreading like wildfire all over the world, with more than 150 escape room providers in Canada alone! People love them because they’re fun, social, and super exciting. If you are ready to jump into an escape room adventure, be sure to check out our escape room survival guide before you get started.
What is an escape room?
It’s pretty obvious that your objective is to escape, but how and why probably needs some clarification. The essential principle of escape rooms is that they are real life puzzle-solving games. You get locked inside a room for 45 to 60 minutes, with an emergency exit always available in the event of emergencies. Before the time runs out you need to solve a series of puzzles in order to unlock the door. In the room (or rooms, as some escape rooms have multiple connected rooms you need to escape from), you’ll find clues that help you crack a code, or a key to help you unlock a lockbox or door, and escape.
In many rooms, you get to ask for one or two hints, for when you get really stuck. You can also always communicate with gamemaster outside via walkie-talkie or over an intercom in the room. Puzzles may be hi-tech and include computers, tablets, and special effects. Or they may be lo-tech with three-digit padlocks and lockboxes. The harder the room, the harder the puzzles, so if you want to try the most hard-core type of escape room, you will find many handwritten notes, GPS coordinates, pattern recognition and much more.
What makes a good escape room?
For any type of entertainment experience—there needs to be creativity, coherence, and excitement. The same goes for escape rooms, and these three components are essential when it comes to making a good escape room.
The first important piece of an escape room is its back story. The whole reason people do escape rooms is to be challenged in a unique environment, so the game design needs to immerse the players in another world. Gamemasters too need to help the players get into the zone with a well prepared backstory and appropriately handling during the escape experience.
The second, but equally important piece, is the room’s puzzles. They need to be creative, stimulating, appeal to common logic, and fit into the theme of the room. Doing a little bit of math, Scrabble, or flipping through a bunch of books on a bookshelf is fine, as long as the puzzles all work and fit into the room’s theme. There is no room for faulty logic or broken clues.
What makes a bad escape room?
Speaking of logic and broken clues, the gameplay should be linear. There is nothing worse than finding a bunch of clues all at the same time and then discovering that they all connect to different puzzles and there is no way to figure out which clues goes where. If you encounter this problem, know that you are dealing with bad escape room. Similarly, having too many props and decoration can confuse players.
Another huge error in the escape room experience is poor delivery of the backstory. Sometimes your gamemaster will fail to set up your rooms backstory—or will do it poorly—and there is nothing worst then a lackluster start to an escape room. It totally kills the enthusiasm.
What are the common themes in escape rooms?
There’s a lot of variety in escape rooms, but most of them have mystery, crime, or fantasy stories at their core. The best ones have elements of horror, and players love the jump-scares and gloomy atmosphere. The spookiest rooms have murderers, serial killers, ancient curses, and some really creepy decoration. Other rooms go an extra mile to make everything customized to the theme, so you can have incredible vampire-themed rooms, with essential elements of horror, and very cool props. Zombie themed-rooms can be really scary, especially when they are not just your typical undead, but scary flesh-eating maniacs. There are some pretty good ones with archeological themes, from ancient pyramids, to secret tombs, even haunted libraries. Elements of Japanese culture are common themes, from anime characters to legends of the souls of the undead looking for revenge. There are ones with creepy children and their dolls, and more hi-tech ones that put you in a role of CIA, FBI agents, or even astronauts.
Why go to an escape room?
For the most obvious reason—because it’s fun! Not only are escape rooms just a great time, they are also stimulating and they increase your problem-solving skills. Not to mention how awesome it is to bond with friends and work towards a mutual goal. People act totally different in escape rooms than they do in normal life, and you’ll be surprised to see what your friends do when that lock turns. . .
But more than that, success in an escape room depends on group communication, which makes them perfect for team building events. They’re also pretty good for dates, just so long as you’re sure he or she isn’t super competitive. . . They lock the two of you inside a dark room for about 60 minutes! If you’re not both totally freaked out, it’s super romantic.
Be safe when you’re in the escape room!
Escape rooms are very safe, but there are a few things to keep in mind. For instance, do not mess with any electrical appliances, electrical sockets, or electricity in general. Don’t use brute force and don’t damage the room. Climbing bookshelves and messing with ceiling tiles is never (ever!) a way to a clue. Just keep your wits about you and you’ll be fine!
How can you escape an escape room?
There is no simple guide to escaping room successfully, but there are some great tips. For example, if you find mismatching clues, you’re almost certainly dealing with two puzzles at the same time, so split your group into two teams and focus only on one set of clues at the time. You should pay attention to words and numbers that are scattered around the room, as they will positively be part of the solution. A positive attitude and open mind are necessary for these games, so try to have fun, even when dealing with most bizarre head-scratching riddles. Remember to touch everything (but not the electrical sockets, remember). Everything inside a room is there for a reason, and if it’s just there for decoration, you’ll know.
Now you’re all set! Find the escape room nearest you and book yourself an amazing adventure. The more the merrier, so invite your friends and have fun! If you manage to beat the clock, you can thank us.
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