How To Plan The Perfect Escape

Escape games, like many other games, require steady hands, teamwork, and lateral thinking. Before players begin there’s pre-game strategising, a mixture of nerves and classic machismo heightened by the threat of humiliating failure. And like any game, there are do’s and don’ts that would improve anybody’s chances of success. We’re a secretive bunch and although you’re never going to know the exact nature of the game before you step through the door, there are things we think will help. Here are our Game Masters' top tips for would-be escapees.

Over Communicate

There is no such thing as too much information when planning an escape. Calling out information loudly and clearly for the entire team to hear can lead to breakthroughs. Yes, it may seem silly to tell the entire room ‘this ball is yellow’ but the truth is you don’t know the significance until somebody else realises it. Chance will always play a big part in success. Give yourself and your teammates a chance at a happy coincidence.

Check Thoroughly

There is no such thing as ‘too obvious’. Sometimes simple things will trip you up so take nothing for granted. Get handsy if you need to, running your hands over surfaces and checking every nook and cranny of the room. Simple things may catch you out and at the end you don’t want to be surprised by something hiding in plain sight. If you’d think to hide it somewhere, the game designer probably did as well. And then they probably hid it in a slightly better place.

Have Somebody Check Your Work

Nobody's perfect and there are ideas or things that we all have blind spots for. It might be your sense of direction, or a blindness to a certain shape, or maybe you zone out when people are talking. We all have something we’re liable to miss that others will pick up on. If there’s a document, have somebody read it right after you. If it’s something you need to observe, have somebody else take a crack at it. If you can’t solve a puzzle, hand it to somebody else. It’s easy to get stuck, so if you do, just walk away and try something else. Get as far as you can with a puzzle or idea until you’re completely stumped and then call for reinforcements.

Ask Plenty Of Questions

In some games you will have the option to ask questions. If you’re so lucky then do. Don’t be that guy afraid to ask for directions. Often tips and tricks will come through a screen or some kind of device. If you have the ability to talk directly to a Game Master, then do because they’re part of the game. A good Game Master will never tell you how it’s done but will point you in the right direction. Ask your teammates questions as well. Your team should be moving around, shifting things, trying to figure out why you’ve been given fourteen tiny monkey statues that they will be making connections you aren’t. If you’re confused then ask them to explain exactly what they’re doing and why. Large teams will suffer from the ‘how did you do that?’ moment when something that was previously a mystery is sitting pretty on the table.

Write It Down

If you’ve got some way of taking notes, do! This isn’t a time wasting exercise. Memory is a pretty fault ridden thing, especially short term memory. Information that is deemed unimportant is usually dumped out of your consciousness in around 3 minutes. Keeping notes will help your team focus and remove distractions. It’s a good idea to have a dedicated note taker is anybody is willing to take on the responsibility. Your note taker must take things down almost automatically to keep up with the pace. The more information you get down on paper early on the better.

Burn Information

Once a code or piece of information fits in place feel free to remove it from play. Things like codes and keys are rarely multiple use but in the off chance they are keep the burned information somewhere safe. Burning information allows you to focus on what you have left to do and things you may have originally discarded can have a renewed importance. It’s easy to get stuck when something that should have been taken out of play is distracting you and the team.

Don’t Move A Thing Until You Have To

Some puzzles are context sensitive. Teams that do well usually leave the room much in the state they find it. Objects are in certain places for a reason. Move things for no reason and you might forget where it’s meant to be, or even that it’s there at all. It’s easy to not know how a puzzle comes together when you’ve taken off a key piece of information.