11 Main Types of Escape Rooms

By: | Updated: January 30, 2023

Here is our list of the best types of escape rooms.

Types of escape rooms are different formats for exit games. Examples include linear, non-linear, and virtual escape rooms. Variations of escape rooms exist to get participants to think outside the box and keep the game exciting.

These ideas are similar to escape room tips, and can help you understand DIY escape rooms and escape room boxes. Escape rooms are a type of problem solving game and team building game.


This list includes:

  • types of escape room puzzles
  • different kinds of escape rooms
  • inside escape rooms
  • escape room examples

Here we go!

List of types of escape rooms

Escape rooms come with unique challenges. Each kind of room focuses on distinct elements and requires a specific approach. For example, escape rooms may focus more on teamwork, senses, or logic. You may enjoy some versions of the game more than others. Knowing the differences between options can help you select the best venue for you and your group. Here is our list of the different kinds of escape rooms.

1. In-person Escape Rooms

In-person games are the most common type of escape room. In this setup, all players are physically present and try to solve puzzles manually by finding clues and objects. Players will often interact with the escape room staff operating, some of whom play characters within the game.

In-person escape rooms can include all types of puzzles, including written, physical and interactive games. To get the most out of an escape room experience, it is best to go for an in-person room rather than a virtual option. The setting and design of the room will help you immerse more fully into the story, especially when it is horror themed! Not to mention, these environments help you feel like you really are trapped!

2. Virtual Escape Rooms

Virtual escape rooms are the perfect solution if you do not have in-person escape rooms in your area or your employees live in different parts of the world. Unlike in-person options, virtual escape rooms do not offer the same ambiance. However, most games have interactive challenges and inventory systems that enable a great experience.

The benefit of a virtual escape room is that you can easily play games using your browser. Some escape rooms will allow you to save your game and return later. These online adventures are designed with unique storylines to keep you engaged and interested until the end. These features make virtual escape rooms perfect for remote teams.

There are three virtual escape room examples:

Remote Livestream

Livestreams are the closest you will get to in-person escape games. Remote Livestream rooms will take you to a video conferencing session where the participants can view an escape room. A member of the staff will be present to follow your lead. You will be able to tell the guide to move around, pick an object and carry out tasks to solve the puzzle.

Point and click

These rooms can either have a time limit or unlimited tries depending on the format. Point and click virtual escape rooms are easy to save, allowing you to play anytime. Many of these games are similar to video games. However, these experiences may also be digital forms or clickable websites.

Live-hosted escape rooms

This category has instructions in the form of audio, where there is a guide, but they are not in an actual escape room. Instead, they simply send the group to breakout rooms and give players puzzles & answers. The players may receive images in a chat box to help them proceed.

Virtual escape rooms are interesting but also come with drawbacks. Firstly, there are limits to player capabilities, and having too many participants might make the game boring or sideline some team members. Secondly, this type of escape room calls for the participants to have a solid internet connection. If any one of you has unstable Wi-Fi, then it can affect the overall experience.

Regardless, virtual escape rooms are great remote team building activities for online offices.

Check out this list of virtual escape rooms.

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3. Linear Escape Rooms

If your employees are beginners or you have a small group of employees, then a linear escape room would be the ideal category. Linear escape rooms are simple to understand and easy to work through. These narratives maintain an easy flow to keep participants from getting confused. The clues follow a particular order, and you will have to solve one puzzle to get the clue or object required to solve the next one.

4. Non-linear Escape Rooms

A non-linear escape room features some form of metapuzzle with multiple clues and items to solve complex problems. Unlike linear escape rooms, puzzles in non-linear escape rooms are not sequential.

Every challenge you work on will come together to unlock a single puzzle. For example, if you unlock a door in a non-linear escape room, then it will not necessarily mean that you are done with the previous room. Unsolved puzzles may remain as you progress further into the game.

Non-linear escape rooms are ideal for large groups, where you can divide the participants into smaller groups to solve separate problems. It will help you with team building, and you will have a better, in-depth experience of escape rooms, often under time limits!

5. Combination linear and non-linear Escape Rooms

As the name suggests, a mixed escape room has linear and non-linear puzzles. This type of escape room is suitable for bigger groups who can work together in smaller teams. These are usually solvable in a given time limit, but that provides each member with something to do. This style of room is highly engaging and challenging, so you do not have to worry about your employees getting bored halfway through!

6. Red herring

Red herrings are objects or ‘clues’ that have nothing to do with the game. These objects exist to distract players from the puzzle at hand. Red herrings can be time-consuming, especially when you have limited time to solve the puzzle. In fact, most escape rooms do not even include red herrings because members tend to distract themselves by focusing on items or parts of the escape room that are unrelated to the actual clues.

7. Scavengers

Similar to a standard scavenger hunt, these escape rooms have hidden objects. Examples include keys, puzzle pieces, or paper slips. Depending on the room designer, hidden words or objects can be in plain sight or in non-obvious spots.

If you have trouble proceeding into an escape room with obvious objects and clues, then start searching. These mini-quests can be comparatively easy since they do not require the same level of problem-solving skills as some of the other puzzles.

8. Mental Escape Rooms

Mental puzzles force the players to think and use their logic to solve puzzles. You will find mental puzzles in all types of escape rooms. Game masters will often give hints and clues to kick-start your brain! Mental puzzles can involve a variety of challenges, including:


In almost all escape rooms, you will have to decipher a code. Examples include five-letter word locks, four-digit number locks, or directional locks. It is important to search the entire room before attempting a code break. It is common for escape room designers to hide code words or numbers related to the theme of the room.

The designers also tend to use custom codes and ciphers to adjust them according to the theme. Other popular ciphers are:

  • Caesar Cipher revolves around an alphabet shift. All letters in the alphabet shift by three letters.
  • Pigpen Cipher is also known as tic-tac-toe Cipher. The letter is replaced by the lines around it.
  • Binary code involves the use of 0 and 1. Eight bits are used to form one character.


Riddles are among the common types of escape room puzzles.

You may come across riddles while solving puzzles in an escape room. These brain teasers will be in written form, or the game master will read them. Either way, these riddles can be a challenge. The participants will have to use their reasoning skills and think outside the box to make sense of the riddle and solve the puzzle.

If you find the puzzle too difficult, then switch it with your co-worker. Having a fresh mind on the case will help you out.

9. Visual Design Rooms

Escape rooms based on visual design force the members to focus on every nook and cranny of the room. So, a better idea is to look closely at your surroundings and check the floors or bottom of walls for any markings. Also, make sure you inspect the paintings or any other wall hangings in the rooms. Sometimes there is hidden text in the normal text of hung decor.

Visual design rooms commit to creating an atmosphere through the decorations. For example, many escape rooms might elaborate on Halloween props and on-theme props or clues hidden in murals.

10. Physical Rooms

Physical puzzles inside escape rooms involve getting different objects to work together. Usually, you will not have to search for them. They will be sitting in plain sight no matter what type of escape room you’re working with. They can include locks and keys, jigsaw puzzles that require physical manipulation, moving magnetic objects, untying knots, and even operating complicated machines.

You will often have to work with the other members to get a machine to work. You may have to push buttons or pull levers simultaneously to access the next section of the escape room. Following a particular sequence is also a type of physical puzzle. You may have to use hints or written instructions to follow some form of numerical sequence.

You may also have to retrieve something unreachable. In most escape rooms, they have magnets for this task. You will likely see a key stuck somewhere out of reach. The keys themselves aren’t magnetic, but their steel rings are. You can attach the magnet to a string and get it close to the key to retrieve it. This strategy works best for mazes, too, where the key is in plain sight, and you will have to get hold of it by solving the maze. You will either get it by using a magnet or tilting motions.

In some escape rooms, you may have to use a stick instead.

11. Sensory Rooms

Sense is an often overlooked yet essential part of an escape room experience. Some escape rooms focus on the senses to offer a unique experience to the participants.

There are times you’ll have to rely on your hearing and sense of smell rather than logic. Here is how different senses play a role in puzzles:


In most escape rooms, a song will be played in the background. You will have to listen to the lyrics to decipher a code or open a five-letter word lock. Make sure to also remember audio sequences and look out for repeated auditory cues such as morse code.

At times, the sound gives the players direction, naturally attracting them or informing them before danger.


In an escape room, you should look for any flashing lights because they can be morse code. Another common part of escape rooms is the use of black light. For example, you may find a blacklight hidden away in a locked drawer or cabinet. Or, the game master may give your group the tool at the beginning of the game. These devices reveal hidden messages in walls, furniture, and inside prominent objects. Remember, if a room has very dark areas, then take out the UV light.

Since UV is a common element of spy-related escape rooms, the games often combine lasers and mirrors to create a complex puzzle. The majority of the time, if you come across a blacklight, you’ll find a 4-digit code written in blacklight ink.


Distinctive smells can enhance the experience. Matching the room’s scent with the theme and environment gives you the most out of the escape room because it sets the scene. For example, you can set salty air for a pirate adventure and smell of gingerbread for a Christmas-themed escape room.

However, a specific smell may also be a clue to a puzzle. For example, the smell of food might indicate that the clue is in or near an oven.


Some escape rooms might also require you to touch things to get clues. For example, you can say that you may have to feel uneven areas to search for hidden doors. You might also have to stick your hand in a box and feel for the right shape key.

If anything is hidden behind a curtain or a cloth, touching the wall may help unveil that clue.


The variety of escape rooms offers a fun experience while working in groups and interacting with the other members.

As a beginner, it is difficult to decide where to start. Learning about every type of escape room can help you manage expectations and make a fitting selection.

With all these options, you can always expect surprises and new experiences. Not to mention, you will be improving your thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving skills, as well as teamwork, while having a great time!

Next, check out virtual escape room in Canada and virtual escape rooms in Australia.

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FAQ: Types of escape rooms

Here are answers to questions about types of escape rooms.

What are the main types of escape rooms?

There are four main types of escape rooms:

  • Linear: Room where you have to solve the puzzles in a specific order to unlock doors or proceed to the next area. It is ideal for a small group.
  • Non-linear: Room where you will be solving multiple puzzles to solve a single meta puzzle. It is ideal for a large group.
  • Mixed: Room with both linear and non-linear types of puzzles. You may solve several linear puzzles that form an entire non-linear meta-puzzle.
  • Red Herring: These are clues or items in an escape room that are unrelated to actual clues. Since they are designed for players to waste their time, members can get easily distracted from actual tasks.

Each escape room offers a unique experience that makes it stand out from the rest.

What are the common types of escape room puzzles?

Common types of escape room puzzles include:

  • Scavenger hunt: The puzzle requires you to find hidden text or objects such as keys, magnets, pieces of paper, jigsaw pieces, and blacklight.
  • Mental puzzles: Puzzles where you have to use logic and problem-solving skills to make the escape. These include deciphering words and codes and solving riddles.
  • Sensory puzzles: Puzzles where you have to rely on your senses to proceed. Morse code is often used since it’s flexible, commonly used, and can accompany any sense.
  • Physical puzzles: Easy-to-spot puzzles that include physical manipulation of objects such as a jigsaw or pressing the same buttons at the same time.
  • Written puzzles: These can range anywhere from equations to misspelled words. Sometimes you’ll have to apply one of the ciphers here.

Solving different kinds of puzzles makes the game interesting and improves your creative thinking skills.

How do you choose the right type of escape room for your group?

Depending on your group size, you can choose a linear, non-linear or mixed escape room. For a group of four to six, a linear escape room would be ideal as all members will remain actively involved in solving the puzzles. However, if you have a larger group, then you should go for a non-linear or mixed-type escape room. These escape rooms will give everyone something to do without making the game boring.

Author avatar


People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at teambuilding.com. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.


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