13 Escape Room Tips, Tricks & Clues for Winning in 2021

Home » Resources » Escape Room TipsUpdated: May 30, 2021

You found our list of useful escape room tips, tricks & clues.

Escape rooms are games that challenge players to solve puzzles, unravel riddles, and find clues in a set amount of time. The point of the game is to solve the mystery and escape a locked room, typically within one hour. While each game is different, there are tips, tricks, and strategies that can help you beat the room.

You can use these tricks when solving virtual escape rooms or creating DIY escape rooms. These challenges are a type of problem solving game.

This post includes:

  • online escape room tips
  • escape room best practices
  • tricks for escape rooms
  • escape room hints
  • strategies for winning escape rooms

Here we go!

List of escape room tips, tricks & clues

From watching the clock to keeping clues organized, here is a list of tips to help win escape rooms in under an hour.

1. Pick your puzzle strategically

If your group has the ability to pick the puzzle, then you should choose an escape room theme that resonates with the majority of your group. For example, teams with ancient history buffs may have an advantage in an Egypt-themed escape room, while chemists may conquer a mad scientist’s lab. While most escape room puzzles are solvable even without extensive background, having a solid grasp on the subject can give the group more confidence and help to crack clues more quickly.

Also consider the difficulty level of the room. Team members may have different aptitudes for puzzles. To ensure that everyone enjoys the outing, you may want to aim for a medium challenge level.

2. Outline strengths before starting the game

Once the game begins, the atmosphere can become chaotic. Delegating roles and responsibilities becomes much harder while the group shouts excitedly at each other and races against the clock. So, it can be helpful to go over each team member’s skills and areas of expertise in a pre-game huddle. Before entering the room or starting the clock, take a moment to share strengths, for instance, wordplay, foreign languages, mental math, or lockpicking. This conversation can clarify which team members should take on which tasks during the game and can decrease the amount of debate and discussion that occurs in the heat of the moment.

3. Pay close attention to the facilitators

Professional escape rooms typically involve facilitators to lead groups through the games. These guides may be professional actors that are present in the room throughout the game, or may simply deliver rules and setup before the game begins. Often, the guide gives the group pointers that can help when solving riddles. Sometimes team members need to ask for hints outright. However occasionally the gamemakers will hide clues within the script, so listening is important.

Players should also take note of the rules. When guides advise not to mess with outlets, peek in the ceiling, or destroy furniture, these declarations are not to trick participants, but rather to protect the room from damage and players from harm.

4. Communicate and listen to your teammates

Solving escape rooms requires teamwork, and teamwork requires communication. Talking to teammates is one of the best strategies for winning escape rooms. Players have a limited time to beat the challenge, and failing to talk or listen to teammates can waste precious minutes. Plus, team members may feel slighted if other players do not respond to their ideas, especially if at the end of the game the guide reveals that the answer or instinct was correct. Saying, “I told you so,” or “why didn’t you listen to me?” is not the ideal way to end the experience.

Be sure to announce your findings loudly to the rest of the group, however not so loud that you outyell and overpower your peers. Feel free to repeat yourself or ask follow-up questions if nobody responds. Making eye contact with teammates is one way to improve your chances of being acknowledged in the midst of the excitement. When adopting a divide-and-conquer approach, announce every action to ensure that team members do not waste time repeating the attempt. Also, remain alert to your team members’ announcements. As tempting as it may be to focus on the task at hand, tuning out your teammates can lead to missing out on important details.

5. Watch the clock

Time goes quickly in escape rooms, especially when the group gets wrapped up in solving riddles. When you fail to watch the clock, then twenty minutes may pass on a single puzzle, and suddenly, the guide shouts out a five minute warning. Escape rooms are timed challenges, and it is important to keep track of the minutes. You can assign one group member to be the timekeeper, or set alarms at regular intervals.

6. Stay calm and composed

One of the most important tricks for escape rooms is to remain calm and composed under pressure. The time limits and stress of the game can make the smartest and most capable professionals panic. When forced to make decisions quickly, people may freeze up, give up, or act absentmindedly. Remaining clear headed and unfrazzled is a key to winning escape rooms. Time will pass either way and there is no real consequence to not escaping the room beyond damaged pride. By keeping a calm mind and avoiding the urge to argue, you are more likely to think up solutions and the group will enjoy the game much more.

7. Do not spend too much time on one approach

The saying, “if at first you do not succeed, then try, try, again,” does not apply to escape rooms. While perseverance can help you solve a puzzle, escape rooms are designed to be solved within set amounts of time. Gamemasters are unlikely to design riddles that take the better part of the hour to unwind. While thinking up the solution and experimenting may take time, the completion of the task should be quick. For instance, it is unlikely that you have to pick a lock for ten minutes before it opens. If the latch stays shut, then you probably need a different key or combination.

If the clues are not sequential, then you can skip extra hard puzzles and return to the riddle later in the game. Sometimes, you can solve the mystery without unlocking every hidden message, and spending too much time on one element can prevent you from finding other critical clues.

8. Note numbers, letters, and symbols

Escape room puzzles often involve numbers, letters, and symbols, so if you see these elements, take note. Often, these items seem out of place with surroundings, however in tricker escape rooms gamemaster may make numbers and letters blend in to make the game more challenging. These elements may form the combination to locks or the code to a cipher. Even if the letters, numbers, pictures do not crack the current clue, you may need to use these lines later in the game. You may want to take a mental or physical note to remind yourself to revisit these objects as the game continues.

9. Collect keys

Locks are one of the most popular features of escape rooms, and keys are one of the most common clues. Collecting keys is one of the most common escape room hints. The game masters will probably hide keys in non-obvious locations or may include extra keys to confuse the group. For best results, announce every time you find a key. If there are multiple keys, then gather them into a central location. The same key rarely unlocks more than one lock, so once you free a latch, keep the key in the lock to prevent getting confused, losing the key, or trying the wrong key in future locks.

10. Look out for objects that seem out of place

Gamemasters aim to make clues hard to find, not impossible to find. Often, necessary objects stand out from surroundings in a subtle yet significant way. For example, an item that would not normally be in a room, a different paint color, or a sign of wear. Designers may change a detail in a painting or the words in a book, switch up the font in text, or include arrows. With a keen sense of observation, you can spot important objects and discover clues.

11. Delegate tasks among teammates

Escape rooms are often designed to be group games, and delegating tasks among teammates can save time. However, having multiple players trying to solve puzzles simultaneously can be a disadvantage if you are disorganized. The best approach is to divide and conquer. You can assign search areas of the room to particular team members, and put teammates in charge of tasks such as scouring books, trying number combinations, or looking under furniture. This technique helps to prevent confusion, conflict, repeated tasks, and wasted time, and is good practice for performing projects together at work.

12. Keep clues organized

Organizing clues is one of the best escape room best practices. With multiple team members exploring and experimenting within the room, it can be easy to misplace a clue if you do not develop a simple system. Hunting down hints you have already found wastes time and can cause panic or frustration.

At the start of the game, pick an area to keep your clues. Then, every time a team member finds a message or suspicious object, add the item to the pile. Seeing the objects arranged in a different way can sometimes spark a solution. Also, the game will run much smoother if you know where to find your materials.

You may also want to come up with a system of marking which areas team members have searched or which objects they have tried, such as marking the items with a sticky note or sticker. Another way to keep clues tidy is to leave keys in lock after opening, so that team members do not get confused and retry those same keys.

13. Use the internet for help with virtual escape rooms

One of the advantages of virtual escape rooms over physical rooms is that when solving online challenges, you can use the internet. Often, escape rooms will ask you to put your phone in a lockbox before starting the game. However, when playing a digital escape room, you can usually open up another browser window and look up information. One of the best online escape room tips is to rely on web resources. While the games are solvable without using outside information, smart web searches can act like a guide giving hints and can speed up the process of solving puzzles. Just don’t use this trick to cheat and look up the answers to clues directly.

Conclusion

Entering the room with a plan and a system can make the escape room more manageable and enjoyable, and bring a bigger sense of triumph when you win the game. Also, taking a strategic approach to escape rooms practices skills you can apply to your work and personal lives, such as remaining calm in crisis, solving problems under pressure, and working together with a team.

Next, check out these lists of scavenger hunt apps and scavenger hunt clues.

FAQ: Escape room best practices

Here are answers to common questions about escape room best practices.

What are the best escape room tips?

The best escape room tips include collecting keys, looking for out of place objects, and taking notes of numbers, letters, and symbols. You should also do multiple escape games so you can get a feel more the types of clues and puzzles.

How do you beat an escape room?

To beat an escape room, stay calm and composed, communicate with your teammates, and delegate tasks. You should also have roles for each  participant. For example, you could have a time keeper role that makes sure to watch the clock.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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