Escape Rooms can be a great activity to just go in and have a fun time trying to escape, but as humans, many of us tend to be a little more competitive about things. Competing and wanting to “win” is fine, but how can you expect to excel at anything when you don’t know much about it?
There are plenty of articles out there that claim to “help” you get better at escaping, but then turn around and just tell you clean-up or organizational tips that really help the Game Masters more than the Escapees. Now, we’re not saying you shouldn’t keep locks with the box they were on or whatever, we definitely appreciate the help, and organization can still help you speed along. However, here’s a list of tips and tricks that we as Game Masters know will help more people get through our rooms with ease.
1- Don’t climb in the ceiling/Six-Foot Rule
You’re probably tired of hearing us tell you not to get into the ceiling, but DON’T GET INTO THE CEILING. Keep in mind, just because you can reach the ceiling tiles without standing on anything doesn’t mean that EVERYONE can. All rooms are designed so that all people small and tall can complete them without having to stand dangerously on the furniture, so anything more than six feet off the ground is just going to be for decoration only. At the most, you may find a clue that high up which only need to be looked at and not touched. Many rooms do have trap doors in the ceiling, but rest assured you will be able to trigger that door to open without needing to touch the trap door with your hands.
With this in mind, you can speed through a room without wasting time fussing over things high above the ground that half your group can’t even reach.
2- No Force is Required
Sorry, strongmen and women, having epic muscles will not help you get through an escape room. If you’re trying to “open” something in a room that requires more effort than opening a refrigerator door, it’s not supposed to open (or occasionally you need to trigger something else first and it will pop open on its own). Force also tends to jam or even break old-fashioned combination locks, so pulling hard several times after trying a code may just make the numbers harder to turn in the future. When you get the correct code, most locks will softly click open on their own, so a gentle touch really does work best.
To sum up, don’t waste time trying to pull on something that doesn’t open or unlock easily. It’s probably something you just don’t have the code to yet.
3- Locks 101
Each lock is a little different. Usually with electronic locks, paying attention to the Game Master during the safety brief will help clue you in to anything you have to do outside of typing in a number code, but with old-fashioned locks we don’t really have time to explain how to work each one beforehand. At Entrap, we have a lot of different kinds of locks in our rooms. Some have a narrow opening on the front or side where you need to line up the code, but others will have a line etched into (usually) the front of the lock where you need to line up the numbers. Be mindful! Sometimes older locks are picky and need the numbers or letters lined up EXACTLY on the line in order to work.
This tip is a little opposite of the last two, don’t rush through and assume a code didn’t work on a lock too quickly. Take the time to verify the lock is lined up precisely and correctly before moving on to a new code. When a correct code is lined up precisely on a lock, it will click open effortlessly — no need to pull or jiggle it open!
4- Don’t Hard-Code Locks
Occasionally we’ll get in customers who are excited to “hack” locks. “Hacking” a lock is what we like to call hard-coding, or when you basically go through and try every possible combination to guess the correct one. When accomplished, this can feel like a win, but it kind of defeats the purpose of escape rooms. We built the rooms and you paid us money to solve puzzles and undo locks. In bypassing the puzzles, you’re missing out on a huge part of the escape room experience. There’s also the possibility that you may receive clues out of order this way, which will set you back more than propel you forward.
Ultimately, hard-coding locks will hurt your escape chances more than help you. This is especially true in that (unless you’re incredibly lucky at guessing) it will take you more time to hard-code the lock than just solve the puzzle.
5- Five Pound Rule
Nothing over five pounds needs to be lifted or moved. Like with the ‘no force’ rule, if it requires more effort than opening a refrigerator door then it should probably stay put.
6- If It Can Move, It’s Not a Code.
Generally speaking, if you’re trying to extract a code out of objects around the room (such as counting objects sitting on a table), a good rule of thumb is that if the objects you’re counting can be picked up and moved, they probably won’t be used for a code without an additional clue to give you the order of the items. Along those lines, if you see numbers on the sides of movable shelves, they’re probably for room resetting purposes and not a clue.
7- Alcohol and Escape Rooms Don’t Mix
We have many customers come in asking if we sell beer or sometimes we’ll just have groups show up that have “pre-gamed” in the parking lot. While doing an escape room after you’ve been drinking is not against any rules we have, per se, it really isn’t recommended. Every group we’ve seen do an escape room at any level of tipsy or intoxicated tends to struggle more with our puzzles due to the lack of higher brain function and loss of patience.
Getting tipsy and escaping from a spooky room might sound like fun, but it really isn’t fun for anyone involved.
8- Ask For Hints!
Hints are hugely helpful and a great resource we have for you to utilize while you’re going through the rooms! A good rule of thumb is if you’re stuck on a puzzle for 5 or more minutes without making any progress on something, ask for a hint. Also, if the Game Master starts asking you if you want a hint, you may be in a spot where you need one.