So, you’re an escape room newbie. You’ve planned an escape room night out; and you want to impress your friends with your exploits in an escape room.
Is there any way to tilt the odds in your favor?
Yes, there is.
There are a few escape game tips and tricks you can adopt to boost your chances of beating the clock...and maybe even appearing on the leaderboard (if you think appearing on the leaderboard is wishful thinking, please read ahead)!
First, let’s see what you can do on the days leading up to the escape room visit.
1. Think in terms of ‘we’ and not ‘me’
An escape room is always a team effort, period.
Even in the global escape room championship organized by Red Bull Mind Gamers, every stage leading up to the final required an all out team effort to win.
The best escapers in the world won through a team effort – you should take your cue from that as to how much any credit a single team member can claim in an escape room.
On the other hand, if you constantly try to upstage the others and show off your own skills, you will be blamed for the team performance.
2. Start thinking outside the box
Puzzle designers always try to instigate creative thinking and innovation when they design the escape games.
An example can be taken, once again, from the Red Bull World Championship; from the final round.
A rather comfy chair had been placed in one of the rooms. For sitting, you’d think, right?
The chair had been placed there to enable the players to observe a mirror image of a pattern; and that mirror image came into play subsequently.
Sometimes, you can innovate by yourself.
In another room of the same World Championship final round, a number of cylinders representing power bars had been placed in slots on a machine. In order for the machine to be powered up, the cylinders had to be rearranged.
One of the teams had the idea to stack all the cylinders on the floor and then proceed to insert them into the machine one by one, which was an easier and quicker process rather than trying to rearrange them while keeping them in the slots.
So, whatever you see around you, try to think the reason it’s been put there. And make the best use of whatever resource you have. As you saw, even floor space can be a resource.
So, after a few weeks of this The Day finally arrives.
You and your buddies go on to the escape room; and are awaiting your turn.
Is there anything you can get done while you’re waiting?
1. Think high
Always be confident.
Don’t be defeatist.
Think ‘We have to get our names onto the leaderboard’, not ‘it’s the first time. No way are we getting onto the leaderboard.’
2. If you’ve been booked with other people, get acquainted with them
Some escape rooms take public bookings.
What that means is that while they may not have any minimum entry fee (for example you must book 4 tickets minimum even if you are only 2 or 3 people), they will pair you up with other people to fill up vacant slots.
We at Fox in a Box Chicago do NOT do that, by the way; all our bookings are private and you will never be paired up with strangers.
If you are paired up with other people, get acquainted with them on first name terms.
Respectful communication is of paramount importance in tackling an escape room, and you need to know everyone by name in order to keep the lines of communication open.
Even with a private booking, make sure you all know everyone else...trust me, in a crunch situation with the clock ticking, common sense goes out the window.
3. Try to get a leader selected
It is very important for someone to coordinate the entire escape. Apart from the usual reason of quarrel resolution, there is one other function the team leader performs and that will be discussed in part II.
You can get yourself selected as the leader. Just start divvying up the tasks like ‘Alright, Tim, who would you like to be paired up with? Don? OK, you’re a pair.’
Speaking of pairing...
4. Split up into 2 or 3 person teams
Escape games are generally not completely linear, so there may well be multiple tasks you can do or puzzles you can solve to kick things off.
And, remember, tasks and puzzles won’t be labelled as ‘Task 1’, ‘Puzzle 2’ etc so you will need to break up and scour different parts of the room looking for what to do.
This is where splitting up into small teams comes in handy.
And those are the tips and tricks you can adopt leading up to your escape game.
Coming up: Some things you can do when you’re actually inside the room to maximize your chances of winning.