Blog Post 1 0f 2:
Interesting Writings From Escape Room Experts
How to Escape an Escape Room
So, you’ve booked your first escape room, and you’re committed to making it out. Maybe you’ve got a bet on it, or you’re racing your coworkers who are playing the same game right before you. Maybe your little brother keeps raving about how he escaped with 10 extra minutes, and you’ll never live it down if you don’t even make it out. Or maybe you don’t need a crazy reason to be competitive—I mean, who doesn’t want to escape?
Well, easier said than done. Escape rooms put you in an unfamiliar situation where you’ve got to solve a series of puzzles—and there’s often no way of telling exactly how many there are—in unfamiliar ways. Each year, rooms are getting harder and harder, and escape rates are often under 50%. And if maybe one of your teammates (and maybe you, too) is still not exactly sure what an escape room is, how are you even going to make it out?
Have no fear, Escape Long Beach Staff is here! Before each game, we give our players some helpful techniques we’ve found that the most successful teams always employ. So without further to do, here are some of Escape Long Beach’s tips and tricks to follow for your best chance of escaping alive (and who knows, maybe even in record time!):
When you first get inside the room, don’t be shy about looking through absolutely everything. Open every drawer and leave no stone unturned. When you first enter a new room, the first thing you should do is try to gather all the hidden clues you can. There’s a lot to discover, and you don’t want to start solving something you don’t have all the clues for yet.
Our rooms, like most escape rooms, won’t require you to use more than a few fingers worth of force to push, pull, or break anything. If something is supposed to move, there is usually a gentle, more logical way to get it to do so. There shouldn’t be any reason to guess in a good game. Remember, in an escape room, all the heavy lifting you’ll need to do is in your mind.
Divide and conquer
Split up! Don’t all move as a pack from one corner of the room to another, or one puzzle to another. Sure, you may eventually get through everything, but there’s a ticking clock, and you only have so much time. Take advantage of your group’s size and you’ll cover more ground faster, giving you a better chance of making it out in time.
Even if you’re just a team of two people, split up when you can. Look around in different parts of the room, and avoid putting your hands on the same objects at the same time (unless, of course, that’s required for solving the puzzle). Don’t worry, you can’t get very far from each other if you tried in most escape rooms—nor do you want to! Which leads us to tip three…
This is the single, most important, make-or-break factor in any escape room.
Think outloud. Describe your logic to your teammates as you’re solving something, and as you’re finding things, simply say what you’re looking at so people know: “I’ve got a lock that needs 4 digits…there’s some weird goo-like decoration, but underneath that is a blue map in a drawer…” If you’re all doing this, chances are at some point you’ll hear a response of someone looking at something eerily similar (and those things probably are clues for the same puzzle), or someone calling out a set of 4 numbers that they don’t know what to do with.
Announcing what you’re looking for to get something to unlock—numbers, letters, symbols, and how many—tells other players what they should be looking for, too.
In our introduction for The Queen, there’s a moment where we use walkie talkies. If you’ve ever used one before, you’ll know that you have to press a talk button for others to hear you. While you’re pushing to talk, you can’t hear anyone else who is talking through the walkie talkie. So while you’ve got the talk button pushed, you can only do that: talk.
You can’t listen while you talk, and can’t talk while you listen. A walkie talkie is a magical metaphor. Be an effective walkie-talkie in an escape room, and make sure to listen and talk—but not at the same time.
Trade puzzles when you’re stumped
If you’re getting frustrated on a puzzle, try switching with someone else. Often a new set of eyes can bring new insights. Different people think differently—some puzzles you’ll have a harder time solving than your friend’s might, just as you’ll have an easier time with some of the puzzles they find difficult. Passing off a puzzle you know will be tough for you is a sign of good teamwork.
If you’ve been stuck on something for a few minutes, pass it off to a teammate and work on something else, or come back to it later. Maybe you’ll find more clues that will help.
Move with a sense of urgency right from the beginning
Time flies when you’re having fun or when your life is in danger. And with both of those things going on simultaneously, time really soars! Move quickly right from the beginning, and don’t waste your first few minutes gossiping or taking photos—do that after when you have a few minutes to spare, else you may find you were just a few minutes short.
Don’t be afraid to ask for hints
Most escape rooms have some kind of hint system where you can get help if you’re stuck. Take advantage of it. Even players who have done hundreds of rooms still know when it’s time to ask for an extra clue. If nobody has unlocked or found anything in 8 minutes, or if your whole team has been frustrated with the same puzzle for awhile, it’s definitely time to ask for a hint. A good Game Master (the person running your game) won’t just give you the answer—they’ll help you figure it out so they don’t take the fun away. Hints shouldn’t be used to spoil your fun—don’t let not asking for one spoil it either, though.
At Escape Long Beach, we don’t limit you on the number of hints you can ask for, so if you’re not making progress as quickly as you’d like, feel free to get some help. Other rooms may limit the number of hints you get, so you’ll need to use them more sparingly. Yet there’s never a bonus prize for not asking for help, so be smart and use all the resources available to you.
Share these tips with your teammates before you go or in the car on the way there, and you’ll have a great shot at even the toughest rooms. And like anything else, the more escape rooms you do, the better and faster you’ll get at breaking out of them. Remember: an escape room isn’t about intelligence so much as it is about mental dexterity. Be flexible and be willing to do (or let your teammates do) some out-of-the-ordinary things, and have fun sharing the experience with them.
Good luck diffusing that bomb or banishing that evil spirit. We hope you make it out alive!
BLOG POST 2 of 2
The Last Minute
If you’ve played an escape room before, you know that sometimes strong and surprising parts of people’s personalities come out during the game. While watching games, our Game Masters have noticed that an incredible shift happens in the last minute. Your otherwise nice, calm friends transform into completely different people when faced with the very real (okay, very fake) reality of being destroyed or captured forever.
We have identified 5 types of crisis personalities that take over during that final minute. See if you can identify your friends in this list—and then check out our recommendations to make that last minute count, or at least be enjoyable.
- The Screamers
When the minute mark strikes, these people race into a mad panic. We call them “The Screamers,” because usually they are literally screaming things like “We’re all gunna die!” or “WE ONLY HAVE ONE MINUTE LEFT.” Or “WHY ARE WE SO DUMB!” (An escape room isn’t a direct measure of intelligence so much as it is about mental dexterity—stay tuned for another blog post on that subject!)
Sometimes, the Screamers manifest their energy in yelling at their group, believing that unfaltering screaming to be the key to group motivation. Some Screamers bang on the door and beg for freedom. Still other screamers believe it is their critical, God-given task to let everyone know they have seconds left to live—and keep reminding them, lest they forget in those few seconds.
- The Doom-Sayers
This personality type is the first one that says, “We’re dead guys.” (Usually at which point the Hyper-Focused shouts back, “NO, we still have a minute left!”) They’re like the stereotypical guy on the street with a sign that says “Doom is nigh.” They become despondent or start joking about how great the afterlife will be, and tell others not to waste their time because it’s all hopeless anyways.
The Doom-Sayer might’ve been right on the verge of cracking a puzzle, or just discovered a critical clue—but they’ll drop what they’re doing immediately when that sense of doom hits. They don’t even want to try anymore, because they know their death is inevitable. We’re all just going to decay and turn to dust anyways, man, so just accept it.
- The Button Mashers
Have you seen those memes where someone shouts, “LET’S TRY RANDOM NUMBERS”? Yeah, these are those people. In desperation and with a questioning faith of their team’s ability to logic, they believe they will have better chances guessing random combinations in their final moments.
Often button mashers will also head over to another random unlocked object, or other prop they have yet to interact with—and start doing strange things with it. Have you played the game “100 uses for the Chair”? In this game, people come up with alternative ways a chair can be used—perhaps as an umbrella, perhaps as a walking cane—that a chair normally wouldn’t be used for. While not a bad instinct in an escape room in general, Button Mashers enjoy playing this game with as many objects as possible in their last minute, in hopes they happen to stumble upon doing the right thing.
Sometimes the Button Mashers manifest this energy by trying the strangest things. In one of our rooms, we had someone face the door and repeatedly shout, “Open Sesame!” fully expecting the door to open.
THE LAB, we’ve seen Button Mashers start trying to fit different objects into a receptacle where they know something should go. Many times these are objects they’ve already tried a few times. But unfortunately if that solid object wasn’t fitting a minute before, it probably isn’t going to suddenly start fitting now, especially if you’re panicking.
- The Hyper-Focused
With a minute left, the Hyper-Focused persona goes into overdrive. Maybe it’s their natural type-A personality on steroids, or maybe it’s that last-moment spark of energy that comes when procrastinating things until the last possible second. Wherever their intensity comes from, this person doubles-down in on whatever puzzle the need to complete and stays 200% committed to escaping the room. They talk faster, move faster, think faster—maybe not in the correct direction, but they double or triple their pace with a determined fervor.
This person often becomes the self-appointed organizer of the group, telling people what they need to do or the can-do attitude they need to have. Sometimes, this is incredibly ironic. In one of our LAB games, we had one person getting shaky about angling a specific prop that needs to be placed at just the right angle. The Hyper-Focused one in her room immediately started giving directions, including “Don’t panic! STAY CALM! Breathe!” We guess the intensity must have worked, because they did make it out…with three whole seconds to spare.
- The “Oh, That’s Nice”-ers
These people are the antithesis of The Screamers. They’re the ones who look up at the clock when others are screaming and just say, “Oh, that’s nice.” They are completely unphased by the chaos of the rest of their group around them, and fall into an apathetic state. Maybe they’ll still get out and save the world. Maybe they’ll die to poison gas. These alternate realities seem so weigh about as heavily as their decision to have a burger for dinner afterwards as opposed to pizza.
Unlike the Doom-Sayers, they still move around and try things—they haven’t completely given up—and if they happen to get something, great. But if they die or lose their soul for eternity, oh well. And maybe they didn’t feel that way a few minutes ago, but now facing eternal death, they have found inner peace. Who knew Escape Rooms would be so great for inducing such a meditative state?
No matter what last-minute personality comes out, there are a few tricks you can employ to put that final minute to good use.
Screamers, use that vocal energy to communicate new finds. Yell about what you’ve accomplished so far, and pump your team up with how well you’ve done—or what new clue has just been uncovered that maybe people haven’t seen yet. Keep your group informed, pumped-up, and listening to the positive. And yeah, you can let them know you’re in crunch time, too.
Button Mashers, keep thinking outside the box. Maybe there is somewhere you haven’t looked, or a secret, critical clue that hasn’t been uncovered yet. Resist the urge to try random combinations or do things you’ve already tried, but your out of the box thinking is essential for success in any escape room.
Hyper-Focused types, put that speed to use, and quickly pass things people need around the room or double-down on translating those symbols. You can make up for any lost time or discouragement your group is facing. Encourage people to keep moving, but resist letting your intensity push others out of the way or overwhelm them with stress.
Doom-Sayers, help keep the panic at bay. Remind people to stay calm, and not lose their heads. Maybe resist the urge to tell them that, despite their efforts, everyone turns still into dust at the end of it all, but use your perspective to try to see the bigger picture of what your group might be missing—including another way out or solving that final step.
Oh, That’s Nice-ers, you just keep plowing away. Your whole thing is you don’t care and you don’t change, so you stay just the way you are, you special snowflake you.
Remember, it’s never too late for a last-minute hint. Sometimes if you’re on the last puzzle, using a final hint can give you that extra boost you need to escape to freedom. More often than not, groups are a lot closer to escaping than they think they are. Above all else, keep in mind you’ve paid for that last minute of fun, so you might as well use it in whatever way makes you and your friends happy.
Good luck escaping, and in the words of THE QUEEN herself, “Do enjoy your last moments alive.”