We’ve compiled our top 29 escape room tips and tricks that we’ve used to achieve a 95% escape rate on the over 350 rooms that we’ve played. We’ve updated our guide for 2022 in order to reflect our latest advice as escape rooms have adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tips are broken up into 10 categories: assemble your team, communicate, spread out your efforts, keep things organized, search thoroughly, work with your host, solve puzzles efficiently, don’t break things, save time and money, and closing tips.
Assemble Your Team
Tip #1. Play with people you know
Fortunately, due to COVID-19, many escape rooms have switched to the “private” game model, where every game is reserved for your party only. However, some companies still do “public” games, which we don’t recommend for players since strangers are a wildcard and you may lose the common context for communication and shared norms. A group of college friends might be put in the same game as a family bringing their teenagers, for example. For public games, upgrading to a private-experience is usually offered for a premium. You could try your luck by booking last-minute, on weekdays, or on the first or last slot of the day.
Tip #2. Make your team the right size
The optimal team size for a game isnever the maximum team size – just because a game says that its good for up to 12 people, doesn’t mean that you should bring 12 people to fill up the whole game. Owners have understandable incentives to accommodate larger groups than appropriate.
Beyond introducing physical crowdedness, over-packing your game also means each player gets to experience fewer puzzles and “aha!” moments. There will also be additional overhead in getting players up to speed. As a general rule-of-thumb, the ideal capacity of a room for a non-beginner team is around 50% of the listed maximum capacity. If your group is too large for a certain game, consider splitting up the group to play different rooms in the same facility, or rotating playing different games in the building.
Tip #3. Listen to your teammates
Escape room teams function best when they try everything. So if your teammate has a crazy but somewhat reasonable idea, listen to them and try it with them! If you think it’s a bad idea, still encourage them to try it nevertheless.As long as the crazy idea is reversible, it might just move you closer to the final solution. At the very least, it will be fun!
Tip #4. Yell out loudly what you find
This tends to be fairly chaotic but veryeffective. Escape room games are won and lost based on how quickly two team members who found related items can match them together. This includes things like a code and a key, a key and a lock, or a pattern that appears the same way in two different places.
Tip #5. Pass the baton
If you’ve been staring at a puzzle for too long and can’t figure out the solution, enlist a fellow team member to help or take over on the puzzle. This helps make sure that puzzles don’t get forgotten, and that there are enough eyes on each unsolved puzzle. This can continue until a few people can’t figure it out – that’s usually a sign that you don’t have all of the information yet (or that you need a hint!).
Spread Out Your Efforts
Tip #6. Work on what other people aren’t working on
This helps spread apart your team and have each team member be maximally effective. There’s a tendency to dismissor skip over some puzzles that are “too hard” to do at first glance. Thisleaves some puzzles forgotten and undone until someone realizes that they’re needed.
Tip #7. Be a contributor, not a spectator
It’s too easy to be a spectator when interesting progress is being made on a puzzle, but people are more effective when they’re spread out and working on what needs to be done! If there’s only one puzzle open however, by all means let the whole team brainstorm.
On the contrary point – if someone is intently focusing on accomplishing a single task (e.g. entering a combo into a school-style combination lock), resist the urge to chime in and let them focus. Don’t break their concentration!
Keep Things Organized
Tip #8. Keep a used key in its lock, a used lock on its latch
A key is almost never used more than once. Leave it in the lock for your sanity. This will help prevent the key from being used again, prevent someone else from trying out another key on the lock, and prevent you from accidentally locking the object again. Similarly, keep used locks in their box (or hooked onto the thing it formerly latched). This also helps keep your workspace organized, and your game masters will love you when they come back to reset.
Relatedly, once you discover a key, the key canalmost always immediately be used to unlock something in another part of a room. It is very rare to find a key which you can not immediately use, unless the item that you are unlocking requires multiple keys.
Tip #9. Make a “discard pile”
Separate objects in the game into a “used” pile and an “unused” pile. This helps prevent team members from examining the same object again and again. This also helps you connect certain “unused” items by placing them in physical proximity! Note that in some escape rooms, objects may be “used” more than once.
If you’ve placed items on a platform or in a slot and that unlocked something, leave the items in the slot. They belong there now, and this reduces the chance that someone comes and inspects an already-used clue.
Tip #10. Organize objects neatly
This helps keep the room tidy, so you can find what you need. This also lets you keep together related objects, so you can find all of them right when you need them. Some examples:
- Make a clear space on the table in the room, and place loose objects in that space
- In a dimly-lit room, keep unused objects under the brightest spot in the room
- Stack related papers together, with a slight offset so you can see each paper
- Keep related items together (e.g. wooden blocks with symbols).
- Spread apart an important piece of cloth
Tip #11. Divide and conquer to search
At the very beginning of each game, split the room into sections and assign different people to comb through each section, looking for objects of importance. This helps make sure that the room is thoroughly inspected, and helps prevent the case where certain areas are overlooked and certain other areas are repetitively combed over.
Tip #12. Search the room thoroughly
Be extremely thorough when looking and touching everywhere, as if you were paintingthe room rather than as if you were just looking for where you put your phone. Sometimes key objects can be in the most exotic (or non-exotic) of places, like:
- tucked in a coat pocket
- nestled into part of the set
- clamped within a book
- within a book safe
- in a secret compartment of the floor, wall, or shelf unit
- magnetically attached to a column
Work with your Host
Tip #13. Listen to yourhost
Listen to the intro and rules by your game master – your game master might slip some helpful hints at the beginning that will save you a lot of time.This applies to the hints that they give in-game too, especially if they are live action actors. All of the staff in-game will try to nudge you in the right direction.
Tip #14. Ask for hints
There’s almost always a hint system in the game. You may have to wave into a camera, use a walkie-talkie, or pay attention to the in-game actor. Regardless of how hints are distributed, we recommend asking for hints whenever you feel overly stuck or have stopped having fun. Game masters are trained to push you in the right direction so you can start solving puzzles again.
Tip #15. Code doesn’t work? Confirm with your host.
If you think you’ve entered in the right code but nothing unlocks, confirm your code with your game master. This helps you know immediately whether you should figure out a new code (maybe you got the wrong 5-6 letter word for a cryptex), or if the lock is just fiddly. This is especially useful for locks that require instructions (school-locker-style combination locks or directional locks) or touchpad locks with a “clear” functionality, where there is no visual representation of what has been entered.
Solve Puzzles Efficiently
Tip #16. Know what to ignore
This is best gathered through experience, but here are some common things that new escape room players discoverthat arealmost neverimportant to the escape room.
- Numbers stamped on antique furniture – These are left over from the furniture manufacturer as a model identifier or a serial number.
- Electrical components – This is a safety issue, don’t mess around with power cords or power outlets.
- Don’t touch the ceiling – Never try to look behind a drop ceiling tile or touch the ceiling. It’s a waste of time and also a safety issue. There can however be items that you canon the ceiling, but these never involve touching the ceiling.
Tip #17. Attempt combo solutions frequently
Unless the lock is some sort of “lockout” safe, attempting combination solutionswhenever you have a plausible correct solution gives you quick feedback on if you’re doing the right thing. If you’re lucky, your first guess might even be right! This tip is combined well with the the next tip – if you have 3 out of 4 of the numbers on a combination lock, immediately input in the 3 digits and cycle through the last one.
Tip #18. Skip the last few digits or letters
Some examples where you can skip some minor steps include:
- Don’t finish that substitution cipher –Decoding substitution ciphers are usually quite tedious. With some strategic choices of what letters to decode, you can usually figure out what the words are saying without decoding every single one.
- Figuring out the last digit in a lock – If you know the first 3 digits in a 4-digit combination lock, you can just cycle through the last options for the 4th one.
- Figuring out the last few letters in a wordlock – This is like solving a crossword. If you have a5-letter word that starts with M and ends in C, try MAGIC!
We only recommend skipping the last few digits or letters when you know that actually solving them will be tedious. We do not recommend skipping entire puzzles.
Don’t Break Things
Tip #19. Don’t use excessive force
Breaking things is both bad for the escape games and the players – for everything including game functionality, player safety, and important game sequences. Avoid forcing open any doors or detaching anything from the walls that don’t easily come off. Avoid climbing on furniture, or touching the ceiling. The game masters will usually brief you beforehand on what things you shouldn’t do.
Tip #20. Don’t play drunk
Escape rooms are a lot more fun when played sober. Come in with a sober mind ready for some puzzle-solving, quick decision-making, and effective communication! Celebrate afterwards instead of before!
Save Time and Money
Tip #21. Check the company’s social media for promotions
Escape room promotions are usually announced on their social media (mostly Facebook and Instagram). They may also have a mailing list that you might be able to join from their website. Their website should also have full details on pricing (some companies charge less on weekdays). During the holiday season, many escape rooms offer discounted gift cards or vouchers.
Tip #22. Book now, add additional players later
For private games, escape rooms will let you add (and pay for) additional players when you arrive, as long as you do not exceed the maximum room capacity. If you’re not sure how large your group will be, you can book whatever you need to reserve your game (consider it your deposit), and pay for the rest when you arrive. Be warned that this may not work for public games.
Tip #23. Fill out the waiver before you arrive
Due to COVID-19, many escape room companies have moved away from paper (or shared iPad) waivers, and moved to a QR-code based waiver system. Some popular escape room administration software includes this. Check out your booking email to see if it’s possible to fill out the waivers online before you arrive, this will save time, especially if there are minors in your group.
Tip #24. Bring a watch and reading glasses
There are very few personal items that you are allowed to bring into a game and use – two of the items that you ARE allowed to bring into a game and use are 1) a wristwatch or 2) reading glasses. A watch will let you keep track of how much time is left, which is helpful when the game does not provide an easily-accessible clock or timer. A watch with a glow function will also come in handy to shine on a dimly-lit lock. Reading glasses will save you time if you need them.
Tip #25. Survey the room before your timer starts
When you first enter the room, usually there is some sort of introduction (either from your host or an intro video) before your timer officially starts. While you shouldn’t touch anything yet or go searching, this is a great time to do a very quick visual survey of the room to take mental inventory of what you might want to look at first. Still, please do pay attention to the any instructions or story given to you by your host or the intro video!
Tip #26. Don’t go for the leaderboard
You paid $30+ per person for a 60-minute experience, do you want to rush through and finish the whole thing in 25 minutes? While being on the leaderboard is a nice ego boost, the value of an escape game is in the experience itself, and we always recommend savoring it, enjoying the story and your surroundings. Besides, if you’re setting records, you probably brought a team that was too big (See Tip #2).
Tip #27. Look at the broader picture
Avoid getting too stuck on any one individual puzzle; you may not have enough clues to solve it yet. Have at least one member of your team keep track of the larger picture, which involves figuring out what smaller puzzles need to be done, what final objects need to be collected, or what final objective needs to be done. This sometimes allows you to just skip over the smaller steps.
Tip #28. Apply Occam’s Razor
Don’t overthink any of the puzzles. Escape games are meant to be fun for a larger audience, which means that they generally don’t require prior knowledge, prior experience, or a complicated explanation for anything.Go for the simpler solution. Usually escape room puzzles have a clear “aha!” when you discover the right approach.
Tip #29. Don’t be afraid to lose
Some of our most satisfying escape rooms were ones where we didn’t escape. The game is a lot more fun when you solve puzzles genuinely and don’t panic about not finishing. These games can be hard, but are also simultaneously fun and immensely satisfying. Enjoy yourselves, embrace the journey with your friends and not the outcome, and you will have lots of fun!
- PICK THE RIGHT TEAM. ...
- PLAN AHEAD AND BE ON TIME. ...
- BE POSITIVE. ...
- UNDERSTAND THE RULES OF THE ROOM. ...
- KEEP AN EYE ON THE CLOCK. ...
- KEEP A CONSISTENT, DETERMINED APPROACH. ...
- SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. ...
- DON'T TAKE OVER THE ROOM.
Just as you would tip a waiter or waitress who stops by the table every now and again, you will want to tip your Escape the Room host or hostess. It isn't customary not to tip in the United States, especially if the person you have been interacting with is helpful in your process.Can you do an escape room with 2? ›
Conclusion. Overall, it's perfectly fine to rise up to the challenge of an escape room as a duo. There are plenty of couples or two-people teams who successfully gather their wits together to enjoy the thrill of an escape room.Are escape rooms hard to solve? ›
Escape rooms are tough. Most groups do not manage to escape on their first visit. It's not that people are not smart enough to solve things; it's a matter of strategy and experience. However, there are a few tips and tricks that may give you an edge.What type of clues are in an escape room? ›
Custom codes and ciphers are the most common in escape rooms since they're a great way to incorporate the theme. Other than custom symbols, Morse code seems to be the second most popular because of its flexibility (works in audio and flashing light forms too) and general recognizability.What happens if you don't solve an escape room? ›
If the game ends and you're still stuck inside, a staff member will enter the room to show you the clues you missed, walk you through the solution, and escort you safely outside where you will then be free to leave.Do you have to be smart for an escape room? ›
Everyone is unique and we've taken that into account for our escape rooms. You don't have to be smart, you just have to be willing to learn and interact with your environment with an open mind.Can escape rooms be scary? ›
Yes, scary escape rooms exist. However, the horror genre is a small subset of the escape room medium. Horror escape rooms are heavily desired by some and hated by others. Within the horror escape room genre, most are more creepy and intense than they are terrifying.What shoes do you wear to an escape room? ›
You can take part in these escape rooms in heels, but those who do normally come wearing sneakers the next time round. This means that they can be more physical if they want to. In our experience, most people find that a comfortable pair of sneakers is ideal. Escape games test various skills.Is escape room 2 OK for kids? ›
This psychological horror movie is rated for viewers aged 15 years and over - matching the certification for its first film. This is probably for the best, as the second film ups the ante for the terrified characters!
The Best Number for an Escape Room
In order for those parts of an escape room to be utilized, you should bring a group of four to eight people. The middle ground will allow you to spread yourselves out equally, communicate without too much distraction, and focus on the task at hand.
While escape rooms are normally a team event, there are opportunities to play alone: single-player escape rooms. escape rooms with solo components, where one or more players are isolated from the team and accomplish a portion of the game without any support.How many puzzles should you have in an escape room? ›
That depends. If you want one that will take about 30 minutes for the average person to solve, about 2–3 big puzzles or 6–7 small puzzles would be good. For 60 minutes, 4–6 big puzzles or 10–12 small puzzles would be appropriate.What is the secret code in escape from a video game? ›
Although he regularly gets locked out of his own accounts for forgetting passwords, Dustin still remembers the Super Mario Bros. 3 Game Genie code for infinite lives. It's SLXPLOVS.How do you escape a room for beginners? ›
- GET INTO IT RIGHT AWAY.
- SEARCH THE ROOM THOROUGHLY.
- DON'T BUNCH AROUND ONE PUZZLE.
- SHOUT OUT WHAT YOU FIND.
- TRY EVERYTHING & LISTEN TO EVERYONE.
- DON'T OVER-THINK IT.
- ORGANISE YOUR OBJECTS.
- ASK FOR HINTS.
DON'T Wear Dresses, Skirts, or Kilts –
Pants and shorts are a great choice of escape room clothing you can rely on when playing games that could save your life. Every escape room adventure is different, but our thrilling experience will definitely include bending, climbing, and getting into tight spaces.
DON'T take pictures or videos! Seriously, don't. Pictures or videos that include puzzles or part of the game not only ruin the game for those that haven't played yet, but it can also get you kicked out without a refund. Don't ruin it for yourself.What are the weaknesses of escape rooms? ›
There is little to no flexibility, because other groups may be in the room before you and after you. Not everyone enjoys solving puzzles that are not straightforward. Some escape rooms can be very difficult, and usually within a group some of the participants will be more into it than others.Are escape rooms actually hard? ›
Escape rooms are tough. Most groups do not manage to escape on their first visit. It's not that people are not smart enough to solve things; it's a matter of strategy and experience. However, there are a few tips and tricks that may give you an edge.Can you fail an escape room? ›
Escape rooms may not be easy, but you can get far if you just avoid some common fails. Here is our list of common pitfalls that cause teams to fail in their escape attempt. Escape rooms may not be easy, but you can get far if you just avoid some common fails.
Escape rooms are so successful at being fun because they require members of a team to work together to win. For example, the clues provided during the game are typically used to solve the puzzles. By combining mental resources and wit, team members can solve problems faster than if working alone.
Everyone is unique and we've taken that into account for our escape rooms. You don't have to be smart, you just have to be willing to learn and interact with your environment with an open mind.