Beginner tips written by Escape Room Veterans

If you are hungry for fun quests or just looking for a unique leisure activity to try with friends or family, you need to try escape rooms. An escape room is basically a puzzle game where a group of people is locked into a themed room and have to decode clues, solve puzzles, and find keys in order to escape before the timer runs out.


Going to an escape room for the first time is often a daunting task for many. It can have you feeling like you don’t know what to do or how you will get out, which can be utterly frustrating. The following are some escape room tips for beginners that will ensure that you escape in time and, most importantly, have loads of fun while at it!


1. Due Diligence


Rachel Bordenca: “be informed about the experience you’re about to have, prior to booking.”


Before going to an escape room, you need to find out all the information you can about the place, the theme of the game (is it scary, mysterious, fun?), the setting, the rules, and any requirements or restrictions that may prevent someone from playing such as age, pregnancy, group size, etc.. If you are going as a team, involve everyone in the decision as some people may have some fears or physical limitations that make it impossible to have fun in the escape room.


2. Practice


Kyle Moore: “I would say practice makes perfect.”


Just like any other game, you need to practice playing escape rooms before you can become a pro. Luckily, there are thousands of escape rooms on the internet which you can play for free on your smartphone or computer. They help you develop a sharp eye to detect the different tricks used in escape rooms. It also gives you a pretty good idea of what to expect at the actual game.


3. Preparations


Paul DeStefano: “Pee first.”


Before going in, there are a few things you need to do. First, don’t go in on an empty stomach, or on a full bladder. You will likely be in the room for an hour, or even more, so you need to be ready for it. Remember to wear comfortable clothes and shoes that allow you to access any part of the room in search of clues. Lastly, if you are going in with strangers, break the ice before going in. You can ask them if it is also their first time playing. Remember to escape the room, you will need to work together with everyone on your team.


4. Practice basic hygiene


Rachel Bordenca: “Wear deodorant and practice basic hygiene prior to your event.”


Nobody wants to spend an hour trapped in a room with someone who reeks. Before going to your event, make sure you look and smell good. Take a shower, brush your teeth, wear some deodorant, and don’t forget to wear some clean and comfortable clothes.


5. Don’t drink too much


Megan Whitman: “Don’t drink too much before you go.”


There are no rules against drinking before going into an escape room. However, it is important to ensure that you are not too drunk to play well or make it uncomfortable for other players. When you are drunk, your brain may not be able to decipher the clues and puzzles you encounter during the game. Also, when you are drunk, you may become a nuisance to the other players which may lead you to getting kicked out.


6. Come up with a plan


Rob Faiella: “Divide and conquer.”


When you get into the escape room, come up with a game plan first before touching anything. At first, it’s recommended that each player gets their own area to search for clues. This ensures you cover all areas quicker. However, as the game progresses, you may have a look at the other areas to provide the other teammates didn’t miss a thing. A pro tip by Sam Weber is to pick a central spot that everyone can access where you can place all the clues that you find. You can have a designated spot for clues and puzzles that you have already solved and a different spot for the unsolved ones.


7. Communication is key


Meredith Vogel: “Talk out loud. Listen.”


You have better chances of escaping if you work as a team as opposed to working alone. If you find any clue, shout it out to your teammates even if you know what it means. If you see anything that doesn’t make any sense to you, tell your teammates as they may have a different perspective. Read everything out loud twice or thrice to your teammates and also be attentive to what they have to say. Also, remember to vocalize your thought process even if you don’t quite know what something means. Tell your teammates what you are thinking or what you are looking for. You might say something that helps your teammate figure out what they might be stuck on.


8. If a black light is provided, shine it on every inch of the room


Maia Doerner: “Shine that black light on everything.”


A black light is basically a UV-A light that helps you see things that you usually wouldn’t see with normal light. Black lights are commonly used in escape rooms when searching for clues and puzzles to solve. If you have it, make sure you shine the light everywhere in the room to make sure you don’t miss anything (be sure to move slowly, but not too slow).


9. Be thorough


Matt Neil: “The biggest thing is to encourage looking at things that others have checked.”


Some people may feel offended when a teammate double checks their work. However, it is important that every area of the room is inspected by as many teammates as possible after which they should compare their findings to see if someone missed something.


10. If possible, write stuff down


Megan Ball: “Write stuff down.”


If you were provided with writing utensils, record all your findings in an orderly manner as the game progresses. This makes it a lot easier to keep track of what you have and what you need which makes solving the puzzles much easier and faster.


11. Know when to move on


Richard Keehn: “Don’t spend too much time on a puzzle.”


A lot of times you will find a puzzle that you can’t solve immediately. If you find yourself in such a situation, ask your teammates first for help in solving it. If no one has a clue, you may use a hint or place the puzzle in the designated spot for unsolved puzzles to be used later in the game.


12. Don’t overthink things


Terri-Lyne Humphrey: “Try not to overthink things.”


Sure, escape rooms have a lot of mind games and hidden messages. However, sometimes the correct answer is the most obvious one. It’s okay to go with the first thing that comes to mind.


13. There is no shame in asking for hints


Christina Campbell: “Use your hints early if necessary.”


Before you start, the game master will tell you the rules, which includes the number of hints you can ask for. A lot of people think that asking for hints means that they are not clever enough. This is not the case. We all get stuck sometimes. The hints are there to help you if you get stuck. For beginners, the unlimited hints option is highly recommended. The experts/advanced players can have 3 hints.


14. Don’t break anything


Brent Phrank McBride: “Within common sense and without breaking anything.”


Out of frustration or just lack of ideas, some people may become destructive in the name of searching for clues. You are allowed to touch everything but be gentle while at it. Unless the clues command you to break something, don’t. All locks open easily, if you have the correct combination.


15. Make new friends


Alex Bak: “Don’t be afraid to play with strangers.”


Unless you are going with a large group of friends, chances are you will be playing with strangers. A lot of people, particularly introverts, find it hard to work together with strangers or even say hi. However, if you want to win the game, you need to work with everyone including the strangers. You never know; you might end up meeting some really cool people whom you already have something in common with.


16. Have fun


Allison Ernesto Vivas: “Escape rooms are not an IQ test.”


This is the last, but the most important tip of all. Remember that it is just a game, and you and your teammates are there for fun. Most of the first-timers are overly worried about not being smart enough to complete the challenge while others panic under the time pressure especially when the time is running out. To have fun, you need to relax. Take a few deep breaths if you need to. Immerse yourself in the game and let yourself be entertained.

Are you an escape room veteran? What kind of tips would you recommend to people who haven’t played an escape room yet?