We all know escape rooms can be difficult, and they should be. No one wants to pay money to play a game that everyone wins. There’s no risk, no challenge! But at the same time, it’s always daunting to hear that only a quarter of the people who play that game ever win.
One of the concerns I hear a lot from people who have never played before is that they’re worried they’re not smart enough to escape. “I’m not good at riddles,” they’ll tell me or, “I’m really not good at figuring things out.”
But I’m here with good news! There are a lot of different ways that you can be smart. Here are just a few different skills you might use inside of an escape game.
As the great Hermione Granger once said, “A lot of the greatest wizards haven’t got an ounce of logic, they’d be stuck in here forever!”
For our purposes, we’ll just replace the word “wizards” with “players.”
Logic is, at its base, your ability to figure things out by reasoning. If it’s not this, it’s that. If we can’t do this, then maybe we can do this instead. If this clue means this, then perhaps this clue means this. So on and so forth.
Now, logic manifests in a variety of different ways in any escape game. You might be asked to do an actual logic puzzle in order to decode a clue. You might use logic to figure out the right order of the numbers for a code. You would be thinking logically to find out which lock a certain code word goes to.
This is simultaneously the most basic and most difficult skill you’ll use in an escape room. There’s nothing like a good brain teaser to get your mind warmed up for a puzzle game.
A Keen Eye
So maybe thinking’s not your strong suit. But you do have a good knack for always being able to find your keys. Or your friend’s keys. Or…anything, really!
A lot of escape rooms are one part puzzle, and one part scavenger hunt. You can only finish the puzzle after you find all of the pieces, or assemble a tool once you collect all of the parts. So keep your eyes sharp! While everyone else is focused on translating a symbol, you might be the one to find the hidden key to the next room!
Many people are astounded when they walk into an escape room and see just how many combination locks are on the walls, and just how many different kinds! Knowing how to operate these locks is essential—if you don’t know how to input the code, then the lock is never going to come off.
The important thing to remember with most combination locks is that it’s all about the placement. Lining up the right numbers isn’t enough to open the lock. You’ll have to line them up at the right part of the lock—something we call the key point. Usually it’s indicated by a small line, or an indent in the metal.
Then you have dial locks—like the ones that are often on school lockers. Then you’ll have to remember how many times to turn it which way before it opens.
After that there are motion locks—ones that work with directions instead of numbers. Think of it like a combo move in a video game. To Open: Double Press Up, Then Down. Only motion locks can take up to ten different input directions before they open. That’s a lot of combos!
If you’re interested in preparing yourself, you can always arrive a few minutes early, and check out the locks we have on display.
I did not know how rare spatial reasoning was as a skill before I started working at the escape room. It is honestly so crucial to doing any sort of puzzle, and it’s so helpful!
Spatial reasoning is pretty much your ability to discern size, shape and distance. So you’d use in when trying to figure out whether two puzzle pieces would go together, or when lining up two matching patterns to get a code. Noticing the difference between two symbols or patterns could be the key to solving the problem, but without spatial reasoning, you want get very far.
While escape rooms are mostly brain games, they’re not without their physical aspects. No one on your team is going to be breaking down any doors, but you will need endurance. You’ve got to hustle to move from one room to the next. Sometimes you might have to kneel, crawl, jump, climb, or even run back to another room to retrieve a prop you forgot about. It’s important work that’s got to be done in order to escape.
So if you’re more of an athlete, never fear. Your time to shine will come too!