“Which game is the hardest?”

It’s another question that I get asked every day. Naturally, everyone wants to know the difficulty of the game they’re playing. What’s the best one to start with? If they struggled with one, will they find another one easier? Which game should they leave for last?

At this point, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear me say that there is no simple answer.

What I usually tell people is this:

Personally, my ranking is Cabin in the Woods, Legends of the Hidden Temple, The Mysterious Time Warp, and Alcatraz Prison Break. But that’s with a big emphasis on me personally.

Everyone thinks differently, and there are so many different kinds of thinking. That’s one thing that we always keep in mind when we’re designing puzzles at Escape Game Long Island. Each of our rooms tends to focus on a different kind of puzzle, and as a result, different groups find different rooms more difficult than others.

Legends of the Hidden Temple

Without giving too much away, this game is geared towards letters and patterns. Translating runes, deciphering codes, and matching designs are just some of the tasks that await you inside. You know, just like it might if you were actually trying to break into a temple to find ancient piles of gold. For the most part, I find that this is one of our games with a higher escape rate—more people escaping within their allotted hour. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the puzzles are easy, but it does suggest that it’s a kind of thinking that most of the public is familiar with.

The Mysterious Time Warp

On the other hand, Time Warp is very number heavy. That makes a lot of people panic right off the bat, even if they aren’t doing math. So many people associate numbers with difficulty that their brains can freeze up at the sight of an odd number. But don’t be fooled! While many of the puzzles involve counting and basic math, some of the trickiest puzzles in this game are letter based. And if you’re feeling ambitious, you can also ask for our Expert Version to unlock additional puzzles for a more challenging experience!

Alcatraz Prison Break

As far as difficult escape games go, this one’s said to be pretty brutal. I tend to agree with this logic. In part, I think it’s because Time Warp is a very minimalist, mental game. There aren’t as many physical or kinetic puzzles as you might find in the Ronkonkoma location. In the confined space of your prison cell, much of the work you have to do is given to you on paper, and done in your brain. It isn’t multiple steps and synthesis and remembering. It is simply doing the work that is asked of you, and figuring it out in one step. And that drives some people wild! Especially with the clock ticking, it’s a high pressure game that can definitely be a brain crunch for some. (That being said, Prison Break is also one of my personal favorites for this exact reason!)

But Prison Break is only considered the hardest because it utilizes a type of thinking that not everyone is used to. I’ve seen some whiz-kid teams escape Prison Break with 10 minutes to spare, only to play Cabin in the Woods the next week and end up completely lost. Which brings us to…

Cabin in the Woods

As I’ve mentioned, Cabin is what I consider to be one of the easier games. But it was suspiciously hard to pinpoint why. Categorizing it proved more difficult than describing Prison or Time Warp, but I think I’ve finally figured out why.

If I had to describe the puzzles you’ll find in the Cabin, I would say it’s very focused on synthesis—putting pieces of information together and figuring out how they work together. Now, this is in some way the entire point of an escape room, but Cabin holds this kind of knowledge above all others. It’s collectible puzzles that you have to find all the pieces to. It’s finding the one correct way to put them together for the correct answer. It’s remembering that thing you noticed twenty minutes ago and suddenly understanding why it’s important.

To some people—like me—that kind of thinking comes fairly easily. To others, not so much. The kind of person that thrives in Time Warp might flounder when asked to work on a puzzle in Cabin. The kind of person that loves the Temple might shudder at the workload waiting in Prison. But that’s why playing these games with a team is so much fun. You learn so much about yourself and your friends, and just how your brains work individually and together.

So for all those who’ve asked, there is a general consensus to game difficulty. But that doesn’t mean there’s one right answer.