So you are going to your first escape room. This is an exciting time! We have plenty of general tips for all levels of experience that are also helpful tips for life, but if this if your first game you may not be entirely familiar with how escape rooms even work.
We are here to help.
Am I really locked in?
You’re only as locked in as you want to be.
All escape rooms depend on immersion into the game, and that means once you’re in the room, the door closes behind you and the assumption is you won’t leave for the next hour–unless you solve all the puzzles and win before that hour is up. For many traditional escape rooms, that means literally escaping the room: finding a key or a code to open the final lock, allowing the group to step out into the real world again.
At Riddle Room, and increasingly at other escape rooms as well, the object has nothing to do with a need to flee. Sometimes you need to open a box to find the necessary evidence of your innocence, or combinations to access the manual override switch to stop the launch of a nuclear weapon, or something so secret we can’t even talk about it here.
But whether the door is unlocked, as it is at Riddle Room, or is locked as your main obstacle to victory, you are never truly locked into the room. Even when a game has a locked door, there is always an emergency disarm button and a series of other fail safe measures to ensure everyone stays happy and safe. But it doesn’t really matter: every escape room is designed to make it so you don’t want to leave (until you win).
Should I be listening for clues when the host is telling me the rules?
Your host probably isn’t giving you clues, but they are giving you important information.
Before each game, your host (sometimes called a game master) will go over general rules and then provide a short introduction to the story to get you started. In most cases, this is considered out of game information, which means you don’t need to worry about dissecting each turn of phrase.
On the other hand, it doesn’t mean you should ignore what you’re being told. “Don’t worry about the fabric on the walls, there’s nothing in there” is really just a desperate plea from the host for you to not pull down all the fabric from the walls, because it will waste your time and she’ll have to put it back after you leave. No one wants any of that.
Your host is there to help you, not trick you. That opening talk is the best way to make sure you enjoy the game. Is there a tutorial on how to use the walkie talkie? Is there a warning about what might be fragile? Is there a clear statement about a part of the room that isn’t part of the game? You’ll need all this information, so pay close attention–and then use the information.
What if we just can’t figure out a puzzle?
This is supposed to be fun. Ask for hints!
Some people have the idea that it’s not a “real” win if they ask for hints. No one knows where this idea came from or what it is supposed to mean. Escape rooms are supposed to be fun, and unless your idea of fun is wasting time on a puzzle you accidentally misinterpreted, go ahead and ask for a hint. Even a simple, “Am I on the right track?” can re-energize a team and make everything more fun.
We’re not here to tell you how to have fun. We won’t tell you what hints to ask for or even when you should ask for them. We certainly won’t volunteer information if we’re not asked. The point is this: if you feel yourself not having fun, that’s the time to ask for a hint.
How will I know what the puzzles are?
You’ll figure it out.
As unhelpful as it may sound: figuring out what is part of the game is part of the game. At Riddle Room, we like to prepare each team with the simple advice, “Everything in the room could be a puzzle, but not everything in the room is a puzzle.” And with that in mind, we have ensured that everything in the room can be safely interacted with.
There are exceptions to what can be interacted with, of course. For example, a “red lock” (a lock made red with tape or paint) means the lock is for staff to use to reset the game. If you see a lock painted red or with red tape on it and you really feel like it’s part of the game, go ahead and ask the host! That’s the fastest way to make sure you don’t waste your time trying to open a lock you were never meant to open–and it will make sure you don’t ignore a lock you need open to proceed.
Generally though, if the host did not specifically call out an item in their introduction to the room, feel free to interact with anything in the room–within reason. Normal Human Rules apply in escape rooms: if something looks breakable, it can be broken. Don’t break things.