Are you preparing for your first escape room and need tips for solving escape room puzzles? Do you want to show off how smart you are to your friends? Or maybe you’ve tried a few escape rooms and have come close to success, but ran out of time. I’m here to help! Here are my top tips for escaping an escape room.

  1. Listen to instructions
    • Often there is a hint of a starting point in the instructions that will help save you some frustration in those first 10 to 15 minutes. While most rooms don’t require crawling, climbing, and moving things, some do and the host will let you know. They’ll also give you important information about what can be moved on walls. This is so that guests don’t break things, but it can also contain valuable information that will help you – plus it helps you be a good guest by respecting the work of the room owner. If there is a recording when you enter the room, listen to it. It’s worth the one minute spent to make sure you understand the goal.
  2. Search the room thoroughly
    • Look for everything that is at your disposal. Open drawers and cabinets and remove items. Look in pockets of clothes, suit cases, and brief cases. Hand the clothing and cases to someone else to double check them. Take any movable locked boxes and remove them from their hiding spot. Look at items on the wall and take note of what’s there – you’re not solving anything yet – just observing. Note all locks and their type – key, numeric combination, alpha combination, directional, etc.
  3. Communicate what you’ve found
    • Tell everyone about the locks you see and the items you’ve found – they may have found a lock that goes with your clues. Have your teammates double check the areas you’ve already checked so nothing is missing. Do you have a flashlight? A blacklight? A magnet? You’ll need these soon but not yet.
  4. Get Organized
    • Use a desk or table in the room to arrange the items you’ve collected. Any new items found should be brought here to be solved. Make another pile of items you’ve already used. Most escape rooms follow a “one and done” rule meaning that once you’ve used a clue, you won’t use it again. Exceptions could be decoders, translators, or maps.
  5. Start with the locks – not the clues
    • Searching for “what could this mean” first will result in a lot of wasted time and searching for meaning where there maybe isn’t any. Start with the locks you’ve found and say out loud “I need a 5 letter combination for this lock” or “We need directions for this lock”. By starting with the lock first, you can narrow down possible solutions.
  6. Consider the theme
    • While not always the case, the clues and answers should match the theme of the room. Are you in a speak easy with a 5 letter number lock? Consider words like booze, drink, flask, etc. Are you in an archaeologists office looking for 4 numbers? Consider years of major events recorded in a journal. Are you in a pirates brig? Maybe the key is hidden in a barrel, or a skeleton’s mouth.
  7. Use your hints
    • You have a certain number of hints available. It’s better to use those hints and finish the room and get the full experience for your money. You don’t want to run out of time having only completed half of the room and have unused hints. No one goes home and brags “we didn’t finish the room but we had 3 hints left.”
  8. Have fun!
    • Don’t waste your time arguing or fighting over what may mean something. Try it! If it doesn’t work, move on. And remember, the goal is to put yourself into an imaginary scenario where you are the hero. Successfully escaping but not enjoying yourself isn’t a win. Have fun!

Have any more hints? Let us know in the comments!

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