How To Maximize Your Time In An Escape Room

You and your friends are looking for something unique to do in Victoria, and have decided on an escape room.  But how can you maximize your chances of successfully escaping?  Whether you’ve never played an escape room before, or you’re a seasoned enthusiast, there is more to being successful than waiting for the door to lock behind you and hoping for the best.  In fact, there are so many great tips for success that we’re posting this as a follow-up to our previous post, Tips for Escape Rooms!

  • GET THERE EARLY For most players—both experienced and first-timers alike—the element of the unknown, and the uncertainty of what happens once you’re locked in that room can be exciting—and also a bit unnerving.  One way to mitigate any potential anxiety about the experience is to give yourself plenty of time at the venue before the escape game begins. This will give everyone in the group sufficient time to take care of signing waivers and securing belongings in lockers before the game begins without feeling rushed.  More importantly, it ensures you maximize your time in the room to solve puzzles.  Arriving early gives everyone time to use the washroom so you don’t have to spend precious game time to answer Nature’s call while the clock is ticking back in the room.  The last thing you want to do is limit your time in the room by arriving late to the venue or wasting game time taking care of things that could have been done before your game time began. 
  • SPLIT UP. Walking into an escape room can be overwhelming—there’s no ‘Start Here’ sign, but there is a lot to look at and do before getting to your first puzzle. In order to get a ‘lay of the land’ and assess the clues and puzzles that your team must tackle as efficiently as possible, divide and conquer is a great strategy.
  • MOVE QUICKLY AND KEEP CALM. You have a lot to accomplish in just 60 minutes—and not a minute to lose, so manage your time wisely and don’t delay!  While you need to be aware of time, don’t forget to keep calm! You’re no help to your teammates if you’re wigging out running around the room, bouncing off the walls like a Roomba that’s short-circuited!
  • VERBALIZE EVERYTHING YOU FIND. This tends to be fairly chaotic, but very effective. Escape room games are won and lost based on how quickly two team members who found related items can match them together. This includes things like a code and a key, a key and a lock, or a pattern that appears the same way in two different places.  It can help to appoint a leader who will be responsible for keeping track of the information coming from all players and relaying it to others.
  • COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE. This tip was in our first blog on Tips for Escape Rooms, but it’s so important that it’s worth repeating!  Nothing is more vital to successfully escaping from an escape room than your ability and willingness to communicate. Talk about what you see, talk about what you hear—then talk about what you think about what you see and hear. Just like opening drawers and putting things that you find in a commonplace in the room, vocalizing your thought processes for others to hear will help your team work together more effectively to solve puzzles. There will be times when communication is required because the puzzles that must be completed to escape require more than one person to solve them.  For example, a pattern painted on the wall in one room that must be replicated in another. There will be other times when communication will be key to solving a puzzle simply because two heads are better than one—but only if the heads are talking to each other and can work together.

One of the most important reasons that communication is vital to your successful escape is the amount of time it can save you. Make sure that everyone knows which clues have already been used and which puzzles have been solved so that no one wastes times on something that has already been done.

  • DELEGATE TASKS. If everyone in your group is working on the same puzzle chances are you’re not making the best use of the horsepower you’ve got.  Also, you’re probably wasting valuable time you could be using to solve other clues simultaneously. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks. If someone on your team looks like they don’t know what to do next, they will probably be grateful if you kindly pointed out a puzzle they could start solving. If one person is able to take charge of assigning distinguishable tasks, everyone is better able to keep track of what has been done and what still needs to be done (see our blog on 5 Types of People Needed to Create the Perfect Team). While some puzzles will be harder than others, all puzzles are important, because they all need to be solved in order to escape!
  • ORGANIZE PROPS NEATLY. This helps keep the room tidy, so you can find what you need. It also helps you keep related objects together, so you can find them all right when you need them, rather than wasting time hunting around for something you know you just saw!  Some examples:
    • Stack related books together
    • Spread apart an important piece of cloth
    • Place loose objects on the table on the room
    • Put all unused keys together in a central location

If you see a bunch of books on a shelf, first check to see if any of them is actually a book safe. You might get a clue later to refer to a specific book (especially if you need a book cipher or you have a dictionary). As a low priority task, flip through some of the books (but please don’t waste too much time looking at random marks in them).

  • TRY NOT TO OVERTHINK. Don’t overthink any of the puzzles. Escape rooms are designed for all ages and abilities, which means they don’t require any specialized or outside knowledge.  Many times, the simplest solution is the best you can find!   That series of seemingly random numbers you found scribbled on a piece of paper are less likely to require complex calculus and more likely to be a code to something.  So, rather than busting out your calculator, keep your eyes pealed for somewhere you can input the code.  Keep that in mind when you enter a room. Don’t over-complicate things–sometimes the solution is simple. Focus on one task and don’t over-think it. Go for the simpler solution. Usually escape room puzzles have a clear “aha!” when you discover the right approach.
  • PAY ATTENTION TO THE INTRODUCTION. All escape games have a theme, and most have some sort of storyline to help you become immersed in the world and to give you a goal you must achieve in order to escape.  When you’re excited about your experience, it can be easy to get distracted either by others in your group who are joking and horsing-around, or by looking for clues to escape. Even experienced players (sometimes especially experienced players) can be so eager to start solving clues that they forget that the introduction can contain information that’s critical to their success. At the very least, the intro will tell you about your ultimate goal, which will help you immerse yourself in the story, and get in the right mindset for escaping. Whether your goal is to elude the mad scientist or solve a mysterious occurrence, the intro will outline the major tasks you need to complete in order to put all the pieces together and escape the room–so pay attention!
  • FOLLOW THE RULES. Listen to the intro and rules provided by your Game Master . They might slip some helpful hints in at the beginning that will save you a lot of time. This applies to the hints that they give in-game too. All of the staff in-game will try to nudge you in the right direction.  They will also let you know any rules that are specific to their establishment.
  • PASS THE BATON. If you find yourself getting frustrated working on a puzzle it’s time to pass it off to one of your teammates. It’s easy to stare at something for too long and begin missing key parts of it. A fresh pair of eyes will help you relieve your frustration and may help you get through that tricky puzzle much quicker.
  • ASK FOR HINTS. It’s not giving up asking for a hint.  Most well-planned escape rooms will have at least one puzzle that is tricky enough to leave you stumped. Your time in an escape room is limited, so don’t be afraid to ask your Game Master for a hint once you’re stuck. Game Masters have in-depth knowledge of each puzzle and will be able to point you in the right direction, so you can get past that hurdle and start solving puzzles again!
  • LOOK AGAIN. Coming down to the wire?  This is the perfect moment to take another look everywhere again when you’re stuck and running out of time! Just pretend that you are beginning the game again, try to think from a different angle, take a deeper look at everything, and you should be able to find something new!

Ready to get out of your isolation and have some fun with your social bubble?  What are you waiting for?  Book now!