Being good at playing escape rooms is just like any other skill: it takes some practice. As you play more and more escape rooms, you will learn what methods work for finding solutions to puzzles and what habits just waste time. If you are a new player or are already an escape enthusiast looking to improve your gameplay, here is some advice and techniques I have found effective when solving puzzles in escape rooms!
#1) Look at the lock!
This is such an important step that I see a lot of players skip. Even if the puzzle doesn’t have an actual “lock” per say, look at what it is that you are putting your solution into. What kind of solution do you need: Does it require numbers? Letters? Directions? Colors? Look at what it is asking for even before you look at the clues that you have found. After all, once you know what you are looking for, the clues you need will stand out to you!
#2) Look at the clues!
Do not be that one person that looks at the lock and instantly starts guessing random codes. The odds are that you aren’t going to get the right combination and even if you do guess the right code… congratulations… you are still going to need to solve the puzzle to figure out which clues have been used and which clues haven’t. I can tell you from experience, if you don’t separate the clues you should have used and set them aside, your team will continue trying to use them on EVERY SINGLE PUZZLE they come across. You may have saved five minutes by hacking a lock, but you have wasted 15 minutes throughout the game just trying clues that no longer have any purpose. TRUST ME… just look at the clues.
Once you know what you are looking for, the clues will begin to make more sense. Once the clues start making sense, it becomes easier to deduce the correct answer. Remember, solving puzzles is a matter of deductive reasoning.You start with infinite ideas on how it can be solved and begin narrowing the possible solutions based on what the clues are telling you
#3) Talk it out with your team!
This is the point where your team mates become invaluable. If you are looking at the clues and aren’t coming up with a solution to the puzzle, bring everything you’ve discovered to your team mates. Tell them what the lock is looking for, tell them what clues you’ve found and what you think those clues are telling you. Once you’ve done that, tell them everything that you’ve tried so far so you don’t waste time coming to the same conclusions. Talk it out and brainstorm different solutions. Don’t worry about being 100% right on what you guess during the brainstorm. This is the point where everyone brings their ideas to the table and everyone talks about what works/doesn’t work and why. You and your team will narrow the possibilities down until you come up with a solution that uses the clues to open the lock!
#4) Try the solution twice!
Uh Oh! The lock didn’t open. You review your solution and you are POSTIVE that you have the right answer. But it didn’t work the first time! Don’t panic. If you are sure you have the right solution, try inputting the code into the lock once more. Sometimes you have the number on a lock slightly off, or you accidentally press an extra digit on a keypad. It happens. Just make sure everything is lined up perfectly and take your time inputting the code. If you want to be extra sure everything is done right, then have your teammate impute the code the second time; just in case you are doing it wrong. And don’t forget, you may need to give a lock a gentletug to open.
#6) Come back to it.
If you have tried everything to solve a puzzle but you are missing a piece or just aren’t getting it, come back to the puzzle later (if possible). Most escape rooms have multiple things that need to be done at any point in time. If you’ve given the puzzle your best shot, then perhaps you don’t have everything that you need to solve it yet. You might think you know the solution only to discover a clue later that changes EVERYTHING! So, don’t get stuck! Feel free to step away from a puzzle and come back to it!
I hope these tips can help improve your gameplay and make you more effective escape artists. Do you have some tips that should have made the list? Leave other escape enthusiasts your best advice in the comment section below! And be sure to test your escape artistry in either The Fun House or The Hex Room at Cross Roads Escape Games!
Manager and Game Master
Cross Roads Escape Games