Planning to do an escape room, but don’t know where to start? We’ve been there!
Escape rooms can be a confusing environment, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up feeling like you rushed through it, like you weren’t didn’t do well enough, like you didn’t get your money’s worth, or worse still - like you didn’t have any fun.
These are not great takeaways to have from what is supposed to be an enjoyable leisure activity. So we’re here to help you out!
We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of our top escape room tips and tricks. It’s hard-earned knowledge from our extensive experience of taking part in, and of course creating, cool escape room experiences.
The best part is that they work for both physical and virtual escape rooms. That’s because Entermission Sydney is a virtual reality escape room game! We curate safe, supervised locked room environments via VR headsets.
You have to solve puzzles and take on challenges to be able to ‘escape’. From fighting aliens in space to fighting supernatural creatures in creepy old temples to fighting a super villain inside his own brain - you can do it all!
So book your slots for our escape room games today. Take a look at all our exciting missions here.
Now onto the tips - and we hope they help you as much as they helped us!
1. What to Know Before Booking
The prep begins even before you start booking - because before you can book, you need to find the perfect room that matches both your likes and preferences, as well as your budget.
A very easy way to check both is to keep an eye on your local escape room’s social media or website. You should be able to find the latest pricing (tip: activities are often cheaper on weekdays!), discounts or coupons (for holidays, for example), and of course, escape room experiences they’ve curated.
You can also control how many people will be in your group. You can book public experiences, in which your group could be teamed up with strangers, or the more premium private experiences. And you can decide how many people to invite to the activity depending on the maximum number of people allowed for the room.
Remember that you can’t bring in a lot of personal items into escape rooms, but we’d highly recommend bringing in a watch. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re wrapped up in the game!
2. Choose The Right Team
Playing with people you know is the key to winning an escape room challenge. This is because you know their strengths and weaknesses, so you can assign roles and delegate tasks easily. You also already have an established bond of trust and communication. In case this wasn’t obvious - both of these are very important factors when you’re locked in a room trying to solve complicated puzzles!
We’d also highly recommend deciding how big your team will be based on the challenge itself. Escape rooms often list both the minimum number of players required for a game, and the maximum number that the game has capacity for.
But you don’t have to go to either extreme! In fact, sticking to the extremes might make your team either too large or too small for the challenge.
Too many people could result in an unwieldy and chaotic group that can’t coordinate amongst themselves. And too few people could mean you run out of time before you get to all the puzzles and clues. Needless to say - both would turn out to be negative experiences.
If you have too many people, you could try splitting up and either trying different rooms, or have separate gos at the same room. And if you have too few - you could always try teaming up with other customers.
3. Communicate with Your Host
Okay, so you’ve found the perfect room and the perfect team, and now you’re at the venue. Here’s the most important rule for this step: Listen to your host.
The host, or the game master, or the anchor, is the person who will help you get through the game and ensure you have a good experience. They will introduce the game, explain the rules, let you know the safety advisories and maybe even dole out some helpful advice.
During the actual game, as a general rule they can both see and hear you through cameras and mics. They can also communicate with you through channels such as walkie-talkies, a speaker system or even the presence of in-game actors.
This is to ensure your safety, check that every aspect of the game is functioning smoothly and without technical errors, and help your team along if you’re having trouble with clues. Listen carefully to the rules, and don’t be afraid to ask for hints or help if you need it.
4. Communicate with Your Team
You’re now in the actual room - whether physical or virtual. You’re all set to go, ready to rumble. Everyone is revved up. Should you start right away? Hold on! Here’s what you need to remember first:
Communicate with your team!
Cooperation is the key to many things in life, including winning an escape room game. To search the room thoroughly, put together the clues you find, brainstorm and figure them out and then quickly do whatever needs to be done to solve the challenge, you need to function together smoothly as a team. And to do that - you have to communicate with each other.
Contrary to what you might expect - clear communication isn’t actually about talking; it’s about listening.
To know what your teammate’s strengths are, and assign them to the right tasks, you need to listen to them. This helps effectively utilize every team member. To tackle all the challenges in the room, you need to listen to your team’s ideas about how to overcome them.
Sometimes a group brainstorming session is just the thing to solve the puzzle - or maybe someone else has the perfect idea that cracks the code to a cipher immediately. It can also pinpoint the time when you really need to ask the host for a hint - because if the whole group can’t figure it out, it’s time to shout for help!
And finally to know when your teammates successfully find or solve something, you need to listen for when they communicate that they have. This means you can quickly match related items as soon as you find each individual piece, and thus solve the puzzles faster. This is especially important for hints, patterns, codes or objects (like a key and a lock) that can be scattered all over the room.
We’d also strongly recommend adapting your strategies to the skills of your teammates. Maybe most of your team works better as a group? Maybe many of them prefer to focus on a single task? Figure out what works for you, and then stick to it.
5. Organize Your Strategy
Now that you have your communication style down, it’s time to form a plan about tackling the task. And that begins with a thorough look at the room you find yourself in.
You can do this either just before the task begins, once the intro is done, or take some time at the very start to do so. This helps you decide who will work with what, and, just as importantly, what to look at first.
This is because the best way to tackle an escape room is always to divide and conquer. Here’s our usual plan: we split each room into different areas, and assign different people to each area to search for clues and puzzles, and set about solving them.
That way, there’s no doubling up on efforts, and each area gets the attention it deserves. It also helps to make sure all the puzzles are solved in time - and none is left as an unpleasant surprise to be discovered near the end of the game!
6. Perform the Pre-Puzzle Prep
Onto the actual game!
There are a few steps to take to ensure you’ve got everything you need to take on the challenges.
Firstly, make sure each group goes through their section with a fine-toothed comb. Look at EVERYTHING, and we really do mean everything - from books, to papers, to each piece of furniture, to clothing (coat pockets are useful hiding places!), and even under the carpet. You never know where there could be clues, safes or puzzles hidden!
Fortunately - or not? - the second most important thing in escape rooms is simply: knowing what to ignore. This comes mainly through experience - but the knowledge is very handy. Knowing this means you don’t waste a ton of time on random labels or bits of paper, wondering if it could be a clue!
We’d also highly recommend having a discard pile, so you can separate things you thought were important, but ended up not needing, from the vital stuff. More importantly, this puts them in an easy to access area if you suddenly realize you do need them after all, at a later stage of the game!
7. Solve the Puzzles Efficiently
Got everything you need? Good! The clock’s ticking - so now we have to solve all the puzzles that will allow the escape room to become unlocked.
Remember that the puzzles can be organized in many ways all around the room. Some of them could be solved separately, so the team can split and work on multiple puzzles simultaneously. But some of them may require others to be solved first, in a step by step manner.
Sometimes, it’s only possible to realize this once you’ve already started on the various puzzles, while for others it may be clearly pointed out. Our advice? Don’t get too stuck on any of them. If one is not working out, move on. You can always come back to it later.
It’s also good to remember that escape room puzzles usually don’t require prior knowledge or experience in complicated code-solving. There’s usually a clear solution that comes in a straightforward ‘eureka’ moment. So if one of them is taking a long time, it might simply mean that you don’t have all the clues yet.
This is also the reason that you need to keep track of your final objective. It’s easy to get bogged down in smaller tasks or details. But you need to have an eye on the larger picture - which is that you’re in a race against the clock to solve all the puzzles. That’s the only way to leave the room.
There’s a couple of sneaky shortcuts we can suggest.
Don’t try to figure out the full word or sentence in word ciphers. Sometimes, the best way to solve a word puzzle is to figure out the first and last letters of the word, or the smaller words in the sentence. You then immediately have the key to figure out the entire word or sentence - and even if you don’t, it’s often possible to guess the full word or sentence in the context of the game!
The same works for number puzzles as well. For example, if you have 3 out of the four numbers needed to open a lock, just cycle through all digits for the last number instead of trying to solve it. (This is assuming there isn’t a lock-out feature, in which a single wrong combination locks you out of the solution permanently!)
Finally, don’t forget to keep keys and solved codes in the area they were used in. This way, you know you won’t end up accidentally doing the same puzzle or challenge twice.
8. Safety First
And for our penultimate tip, we’ve saved something very important: the safety guidelines.
Usually, the host or the game master will brief you on all safety precautions before the game begins. Please listen to them carefully. When we’re excited for something, it’s very easy to forget to follow the rules. But the rules are there for a reason - and many of them are there to protect you as well as the staff of the escape room from harm.
Here are a few must-dos:
Always read the waivers carefully before you sign them.
The waivers contain information such as what sort of allergens or accessibility issues a room might have - circumstances such as a sandy floor, or low light, or flashing lights that could set off a seizure. They also let you know what sort of thing the escape room will accept responsibility for, and what it won’t.
For example, if there’s a technical failure not caused by any of the players that stops the game, you could get a full refund. But if you lose personal items after being told not to bring any, or have medical issues that could have been prevented if you had paid attention to the warnings, the company will not accept liability.
So always read the waivers carefully for full information. This will ensure you have a safe and complete playing experience.
Don’t Damage the Props
Props are essential parts of an escape room, and they need to be handled carefully. This is to ensure your own safety as well as avoid having to pay fines for breaking the company’s property.
Do handle the small, breakable ones gently - and be careful about trying to force open or detach the bigger ones. If something is unmoving, it’s likely because it’s supposed to stay that way. This includes cabinets, drawers, doors, and - it does need to be said - the tiles in the floor and the ceiling!
We’d also strongly recommend not climbing on furniture, as they may collapse beneath you, unless absolutely necessary. If you break something, not only will you endanger yourself, you will also cause losses to the room and may have to pay for the damages.
Don’t play drunk
This one’s a no-brainer: please don’t play if you are not mostly sober. It is much harder to solve puzzles when inebriated - and it’s also much harder to stay safe! You can always celebrate with a beer afterwards.
Don’t Touch Electrical Components
And a final reminder: absolutely do not touch or try to connect or disconnect power cords or power outlets, unless the game master informs you it is safe and a part of the game. This is especially important if you happen to have minors in your group.
9. Last but NEVER the least - don’t forget to have fun!
And of course, finally, we’ve got the most important tip of all - have fun!
Sure, it’s great to win the game and lead the board. But it’s absolutely okay if you don’t. In fact, you can even have a great and satisfying experience if you can’t beat the clock, especially if the puzzles are interesting.
We say the experience of the escape room - of being immersed in an exciting situation, of solving cool riddles to get your ‘Eureka!’ solution moment, and of doing something fun with your friends - is much, much more important.
We hope this blog post helps you have a great escape room experience!
Why not tell us about it, if it does? Comment below to let us know which tip you found to be the most helpful. And visit here to book your slot at Entermission Sydney. Take a look at all our exciting missions, and choose the one you like the best.
And we’ll see you at our escape room soon!