Do you know what not to do in an escape room? By avoiding certain missteps, you can ensure a fun and safe adventure while maximizing your odds of success. We’ve broken down the top 12 escape room don’ts to help you prepare for the big event.
1. Don’t Choose a Difficult Room if You’re New to Escape Puzzles
Most escape rooms have a complexity rating to let you know what you’re up against. For example, every escape room in Los Angeles by Quest Room has a complexity rating between 1 and 5, so you can plan your visit accordingly.
The more challenging rooms are perfect if you’ve completed a couple of rooms successfully and are comfortable with the process. If you’re a beginner, you might want to consider less challenging rooms at first, just until you learn the ropes.
When you beat the easier rooms with time to spare, you know you’re ready to graduate to the more challenging rooms and earn even greater bragging rights.
2. Don’t Arrive With Just One or Two Friends
Escape rooms are all about strength in numbers. Most rooms will allow between 4 and 8 participants (be sure to check ahead of time), and you want to use that allotment to your advantage. The more people you have on your team, the easier it will be to solve the puzzles and make your final escape, so choose your team wisely. If you only have two or three people working together, you’re at a major disadvantage.
Of course, too many participants can also be a disadvantage if your group isn’t well-organized. If you have eight people all hovering over the same clues, things can get a bit chaotic. In most cases, five or six participants is a good number to go with.
3. Don’t Arrive Late
When you book an escape room adventure, you’re paying for a window of time, like 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Another group may have already booked the subsequent time slot. This means that if you’re late, you may lose your time slot altogether, or you may have to complete the quest in less time.
On another note, make sure that you’re sober when you arrive. While it can be fun to have a few drinks on the town before your escape room appointment, the impairment can hurt your mental sharpness and make the puzzles much more difficult. Also, some escape game facilities will turn away guests who are visibly intoxicated.
4. Don’t Snooze During the Introduction
When you first enter your chosen escape room, you’ll be presented with an intro presentation or video. Pay attention to what the video or game master tells you. Not only do these intros lay out the rules and expectations, but they’re usually filled with important clues. If you don’t listen, you’ll be at a disadvantage.
Make sure that everyone on your team listens closely as well. Everyone stores information and retains memories differently, and you can use this to your advantage. Every participant will remember different details and have their own interpretation of the clues, which can be valuable if you all put your heads together.
5. Don’t Touch Items That Are Off Limits
As you explore the room, you may find certain items marked “Don’t Touch” or “Hands Off.” Those signs aren’t just there for decoration, so heed them carefully. If you play around with objects or furniture pieces that are off limits, you not only waste time, but you may mess up certain game elements or get yourself disqualified.
On another note, don’t use excessive force to try to move objects. If secrets are meant to be found, they’ll be readily accessible. You will never have to lift a 70-pound bookshelf off the ground or rip the carpet off the floor.
6. Don’t Use Your Phone During an Escape Room Experience
Not all escape rooms will allow you to bring your phone into the attraction. In cases where phones are permitted in the room, you’ll still need to keep it in your pocket or handbag. A cell phone won’t help you in an escape room; all the clues are right there in the room. In some cases, you may even be disqualified and asked to leave without a refund if you’re caught filming or taking photos.
Most importantly, using your phone wastes valuable time that could be spent accessing and interpreting the actual clues. So just stay focused on the game and have a good time. Everything you need is already right under your nose.
7. Don’t Keep Clues to Yourself
If you find a valuable clue, announce it to your partners in the room. They might have corresponding clues or theories that can put your clue to good use and bring you one step closer to escape.
Throughout the game, your team should be in constant communication, sharing clues, bouncing ideas off of one another, and experimenting. This is one of the most effective ways to beat the clock.
8. Don’t Waste an Hour on One Puzzle
It’s easy to get obsessively hung up on a single clue or puzzle. You feel like you’re on the verge of cracking it, and you’re determined not to walk away until you do.
This is a poor strategy for several reasons. First, you might not have all of the information you need yet (the final piece of information may be hidden elsewhere in the room). Second, too much time obsessing over the same puzzle will slow down other progress around the room. And finally, it can be more difficult to solve puzzles if you’re frustrated. Sometimes it helps to walk away and focus on something else for a bit, if only to clear your head.
9. Don’t Assume the Obvious
Sometimes a clue seems so obvious that it’s almost too good to be true. For instance, you’re looking for a three-digit code to unlock a safe. You look up at the wall and see the numbers 735 written in bold letters on a poster. Eureka! Except…the answers are seldom that obvious.
It never hurts to try the obvious clues (you should, in fact), but don’t be surprised when they don’t pan out the way you expected. Escape rooms are full of red herrings and deceptive puzzles, so it’s important not to obsess over clues that seem to fit perfectly. If something doesn’t work, keep looking.
10. Don’t Be a Hero
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make as an escape room participant is not using the hints that are available to you. Most escape games will allow you to request one, two, or sometimes three hints from the game masters. But some participants refuse these hints either out of pride or because they forget they’re available.
If you have access to hints from the outside, use them. It doesn’t make your victory any less sweet if you use the help that’s afforded to you.
11. Don’t Take Souvenirs From the Room
Escape rooms are filled with fun little pocket-sized items: keys, notepads, books, cards. But all of these items are integral to the game and are not intended to be taken out of the room. Just leave them in the room when you’re finished.
Escape room facilities only have limited numbers of replacement items, and those custom-made items can be very expensive to replace. So be considerate of the facility, the game master, and everyone who plays the game after you’re finished.
12. Don’t Give Up if You Fail Your First Escape Room Game
Finally, it can be disheartening if you go out for your first big escape room adventure and you fail to beat the clock. But our advice is: Don’t give up. If it’s your first time out, consider it a learning experience. You’ll do much better next time because you’ll be better-acquainted with how the process works.
So just take what you’ve learned, gather up your best crew, and try again. Be sure to also review our guide on How to Solve Escape Room Puzzles. Before long, you’ll be smiling for your wall-of-fame photo.