Mapping Our Escapes
We have played over 370 games in over 100 cities
around the world.
Are you about to embark on your first room escape adventure?
If so, most likely a friend has manipulated you into doing this and you have no idea what to expect. Your friend promised you it would be "soooo much fun." But then they muttered something about being "locked in a room." This of course triggered an immediate panic attack and a quest for answers. Now you find yourself frantically googling "what is an escape room?" You are desperate to know: what have you gotten yourself into?
Never fear! Here is our advice to you, Escape Room newbie:
1. Stop panicking and breathe. This is also the first thing you will want to do when the clock begins ticking in your escape room. Avoid running around frantically and keep your voice at a normal speaking level. Stay calm my friend and we will get through this.
2. Stop googling. It won't help you. The knowledge from google is vast but the experience of the escape room is unique to the time and the place. So relax and use your own wits and intelligence. You got this! We believe in you!
3. Focus. As soon as you step into that escape room and the clock begins ticking, stay focused on the goal of finding hints and solving puzzles. Scour the room, search for anything that might be a clue. If you don't know what you are doing that's okay, just keep looking.
4. Communicate. As you locate hints and puzzles, place them in a central location and communicate your findings to the other players. Do not put anything in your pocket or ignore its existence. See something, say something.
5. Sort the clues. If you have scoured the room and believe you have found everything, begin grouping the information. If this is a multilinear room, there may be several puzzles to solve. A mostly linear room tends to have one puzzle that leads to the next in a logical, linear fashion. Multilinear rooms may have multiple starting points. Group similar items together. If you believe it belongs to the same puzzle it most likely does. Start sorting what you have found and communicate your thinking to your group.
6. Note the types of locks that you have found in the room. It helps to vocalize this as well to other players. So you might say "I found a four number lock over here" or "this box has a color-coded letter lock." This information helps after you have sorted the puzzles to begin thinking about what locks might be connected to what puzzles. If you think you know what locks are associated with what puzzles, share your thoughts with the group and if possible move the lock near the puzzle.
7. Solve the puzzles. If there are multiple puzzles and multiple players, we usually begin by asking people if they are familiar with this type of puzzle or feel like they can solve it. This allows people to volunteer to use their strengths to help the team out. So if I, for example, feel very confident with riddles, I might say "I'll work on this one." Then the other individuals can either choose to help out if they feel like they might be able to or better yet, they can move on and begin working on another puzzle. This is especially effective for larger group sizes. If you are playing with smaller groups, you still want to divide up and begin working on separate puzzles but you may find yourself working on a puzzle that is quite challenging for you. If that happens and you don't know how to solve it, acknowledge this. Your partner may be willing to switch puzzles with you. It is quite possible that a fresh perspective could help. Communicate what you have tried before passing the baton though in order to avoid wasting time trying the same idea.
8. If you are at a loss for what to do, do something. Never, ever give up. If you don't know how to solve a specific puzzle, switch puzzles. If you still feel lost, start looking around the room again for missing clues or anything that might help you out. Don't distract those that are actively working on solving a puzzle. Make yourself useful.
9. Don't watch the clock. It's a waste of time, literally. Also, please don't be the person who frantically shouts out how much time is left. Everyone knows they are running against the clock. Pointing that out just adds stress and detracts people from focusing on solving the puzzles.
10. Save the long-winded stories for later. You have a very limited time to escape and get out of this room. You can tell all the stories you want when it is over and have plenty of time to laugh and enjoy the reflection on your experience. Most of the individuals we have been teamed up with who insist on chatting have added little to the experience and in fact have slowed us down or derailed our effective attempts to escape in their quest for attention. Don't worry! At the post-escape festivities you can tell us all about how amazing you were. In the meantime, there are puzzles to solve.
Finally, don't forget to enjoy the experience! You will feel stressed and you will be at a loss for what to do next at some points in the game, but please don't have a mental breakdown. Relax, this is fun. Really, truly it is! You are going to have a blast. You will escape the room in the end (either by solving puzzles or by running out of time). You will have something to talk about for a long time after. We escapologists love escape rooms. We know that if you follow our simple guidelines, you will become escape room addicts too!
Last week we decided to celebrate Spring Break by donning our swimsuits (then thermals, wool sweaters, snow pants, jackets, hats, gloves and waterproof galoshes) to leave the perfect warm climate of our home town and depart for that most famous Spring Break destination: frigid Iceland. We stepped off the plane and were immediately met with the harsh wind and rain of an Icelandic winter (technically it was one week into spring but this is winter to us). Pushed and shoved by the less than welcoming airport crowd we were crammed into trams and buses and eventually made our way to downtown Reykjavik. Jet-lagged and barely awake, we slogged our way through the sleet and wind to the warm refuge of Reykjavik Escape.
Once inside we divested of our multiple layers of clothing until we looked less like trolls and more like the Viking warriors we hoped to be: ready to battle and prove our martial prowess in the art of escaping! The game master recommended we play Mafia (less Viking themed than we had hoped) but he promised us it was their most challenging game. Once inside the room, we found the puzzles logically laid out in both multi-linear and linear fashion. Being no strangers to cracking the inner workings of organized crime networks, we set to work to bust the case. We proceeded through the puzzles quickly with only one small hint to help us through. The game flow was seamless and the puzzles logical: exactly the way we like our games to be! We successfully escaped with plenty of time to nom on some Skyr before succumbing to the full force of our jet lag.
After a few days of exploring the waterfalls, lava fields, and glaciers in search of Gryla and the Yule Lads, we returned once again to the city and to Reykjavik Escape. This time we decided to try to fly the coop in Prison Break. This game ran as smoothly as glacier water. We moved quickly through the puzzles, slowed only by our failure to understand the workings of a European style computer keyboard. Without so much as a single hint, we made our escape out of prison and into the dark Icelandic night in search of one last glimpse of the Northern Lights.
Upon our departure we asked for recommendations on other escape room establishments to play while in Iceland. The game master informed us that Reykjavik Escape is the only game in town and in fact in all of Iceland. “It’s a small country.” Holy puffin! That’s awesome! Our work here is done! Time to head back to the land of sunshine. We love you Iceland but you can keep your wind, sleet and snow. Turns out we weren’t made for that weather.
Puzzle Room - Reno, Nevada
Below Ground: A criminal organization is plotting to blow up a mine to cover up a heist. We had to sneak in and find a way to stop them.
Valley of the Kings: Buried deep in an ancient Egyptian tomb, a secret artifact and an ancient curse awaited our discovery.
Pros: The doors to the rooms were the BEST we have ever seen. Seriously super cool. We loved them. Kudos to the designer. The storylines were creative and the set designs clearly aligned with the theme. We especially liked the set in Valley of the Kings. We found ourselves stuck in the first room for a long time due to our lack of perception. In due time, we put two and two together to solve the first major puzzle. We quickly worked our way through the proceeding rooms and eventually solved the final mystery. The puzzles flowed smoothly and we succeeded with no hints. We were less skilled in our gameplay in Below Ground, however. See comments below.
Cons: A few glitches with the tech in both games slowed us down a bit, but we recovered quickly thanks to the attentiveness of our gamemaster. We struggled quite a bit in Below Ground mostly as a result of number overload. Most of the puzzles involved numbers and we had trouble identifying puzzles with associated locks. We needed more hints than usual as a result. Thank you to our gamemaster for keeping us on track.
We loved playing at Puzzle Room Reno and look forward to playing the rest of their games in the future!
Break Through - Reno, Nevada
Apartment 13: Our little brother had mysteriously disappeared and a lot of weird things are happening at an apartment complex where he was last seen. We went into Apartment 13 in an attempt to find him and solve the mystery.
Curse of Anubis: Get ready to set off on a quest to locate a missing archaeologist deep inside an ancient tomb.
Pros: The gamemaster was absolutely delightful. She greeted us and encouraged us all to get to know each other before the game. After we reviewed the rules and the storyline we embarked on our archaeological adventure. The set design was as good as it gets. We truly appreciated the craftsmanship and thought that went into the props and set design. The puzzles seemed very logical and the game flow worked exceptionally well in part because of the linear puzzle design. We failed to escape, but truly appreciated the game design.
Cons: Our experience at Escape on 13th was unfortunately severely dampened by the fact that the owner has chosen to 1) group strangers together and 2) group way too many strangers together. This room comfortably fits four people. The small size of the room makes it very difficult to move around and solve puzzles. We were grouped with a number of strangers to create a total group size of eight. The crowding and confinement prevented our ability to quickly locate hidden items. In the second room, the low lights (even with the noisy generator) made it impossible to read the written hints. We crowded back into the previous room to read the material and solve the puzzles. The lack of experience and clue-hoarding of our new friends combined with the linear nature of the puzzles and confined space led to our failure to get anywhere close to completing the game. We had an additional game scheduled but when we discovered we would be playing in a similarly confined space with a larger group size, we decided to take a hard pass. Better luck next time.
You definitely shouldn't miss the opportunity to play here. The set design makes it all worthwhile. But be forewarned. Bring as many of your own friends as you can and fingers crossed you don't get grouped with strangers.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Seeking the location of Captain Nemo's secret base, we had to sneak onboard before the Captain and his crew returned.
Sherlock Holmes: We had to help Sherlock Holmes solve the still unsolved mystery of the Hound of the Baskervilles.
Pros: Shiver me timbers! This place has a lot of spirit (or should I say spirits?) Shortly after our arrival at Mystery Escape Room we were greeted by a punny pirate gamemaster who guided us through our undersea adventure. The set design in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea contributed to an immersive gameplay experience. The puzzles consisted of a series of nautical challenges that stressed our little land-loving brains. Once we got our sea legs, we struggled through the puzzles. Our ghostly captain kept us on track through verbal instructions over the loud speaker. Once we had successfully saved the ship and sailed back on land, we set sail again on our second adventure. Seeking to solve the mystery of the hound, we started sleuthing about looking for hints. The multiple written clues and hidden objects presented a complex challenge for our small group. We required multiple hints only to find ourselves unable to successfully solve the mystery.
Cons: We truly appreciated the gamemaster's help. However, the frequent interruptions disrupted our flow of thought and prevented independent decision making. By the time we started the second game, we had been conditioned to wait for the inevitable assistance to guide us to the correct answers. This was most likely an indication of overly complex puzzles that clearly required the gamemaster's assistance to solve. Simplifying and reducing the number of puzzles (especially in Sherlock Holmes) is highly recommended to improve the player experience.
We loved the enthusiasm of the gamemaster and really enjoyed the sets. This place is clearly one of Salt Lake City's finest escape room establishments.
Alice in Wonderland: Alice is on trial for crimes she didn't commit. We had to rush in and find the evidence to prevent an unfair conviction.
Jumanji: Sucked into the game world of Jumanji, we had to find a way to survive and return to reality.
Dracula: Vampires beware, the slayers have arrived. We practiced our best Buffy, Xander, and Willow impressions, and prepared to vanquish some revenants.
Pros: We can definitely confirm that after playing three games at their Melrose location, 60out lives up to its reputation as the best of the best in Southern California. First, we'd like to thank our gamemasters, Leslie and Noah, who were consistently enthusiastic and helpful through every game. Our experience was that much better thanks to them. Second, we'd like to thank 60 out for their private room policy. We truly appreciate playing by ourselves (no random strangers). This appears to be an increasingly rare practice and we definitely appreciate it so much more now.
As we have come to expect from 60out, the set design in all the rooms (especially Jumanji) was totally immersive. From the dark cemetery of Dracula to the jungles of Jumanji, we found ourselves completely engrossed in the storylines. Our favorite, with regard to puzzles, was Alice in Wonderland. Although we felt like the Mad Hatter at times scratching our head in an effort to deduce the meaning of each hint we uncovered, we found the odd challenges exceptionally satisfying. Jumanji was hands down awesome. From set-design to storyline to puzzles, this is a must-do experience. Seriously, get over there and play it now!
Cons: Fingers-crossed that the tech holds-up after multiple players. These games our top-notch but we worry about their ability to handle the wear and tear of time. We struggled quite a bit on the puzzles in the Dracula game and felt that they could be slightly modified to improve the player experience. We failed to finish with about 60% of the game left to solve. This definitely lowered our success rate. We are chalking this one up to complicated puzzles. We enjoyed it nevertheless and definitely recommend you play Dracula. Bring a group of 4-6 though. The more brains the better in defeating the tricky revenants.
We cannot offer enough praise to 60out. Seriously they just keep rockin' it!
Skull Witch: An evil witch with an evil plan. Could we rescue her victim and escape her lair?
Pros: We were escorted through the creepy waiting room into the creepy escape room. Our first impression (after overcoming our sheer sense of terror) was that the set design was just WOW. Once the door closed behind us and we stopped flipping out, we cautiously began to explore the cabin. The set was seriously amazing and the puzzles were all aligned to the theme. The tech in the room added to the awesomeness of the experience. We played as a group of six and stumbled our way through the puzzles. The storyline was full of twists and turns that only enhanced the experience. We were surprised on more than one occasion but for the faint of heart, there is no need to fear. This is not a haunted house type of horror experience.
Cons: We really had no idea what was going on through most of the game. We were all very motivated and ready to play. Still the puzzles were much too complex for us to grasp. Hints from the gamemaster helped move us along. The timer went off well before we completed the game. Nevertheless, we left the game happy thanks to the amazing set and fun game design.
Enchambered lives up to its reputation as the best in Sacramento. Definitely check out Skull Witch - but be prepared to watch your success rate fall.
Cover photo taken at Countdown Live .
We are escape room fanatics who have played over 370 games in the U.S. and Europe. We love the art of escapology and we wanted to share our adventures in playing room escapes with you!
Rooms Played: 370