10 Strategies for Winning in Escape Rooms

Escape rooms are full of exciting puzzles and adventures, and while they are challenging, the ultimate goal is FUN. Over the course of hundreds of thousands of games, we have learned that there are some pretty consistent keys to success, and while its perfectly fine to go in totally blind, the competitive ones of us might like to strategize a bit before playing. Here’s our top 10 key ingredients for a successful escape!

1. PICK THE RIGHT TEAM

The thing that really makes your experience is having a blast with the people you are playing with. Playing an escape room isn’t necessarily about picking a “super smart” team, because we all bring something different to the table. That’s the best part about escape rooms! Some people will solve a math problem super fast, while others will be great at a riddle. One player might keep the team on task and focus on time management and another might organize all the clues and puzzles so nothing gets lost or overlooked. Everyone has strengths that can help in an escape room. The most important thing is to choose a group of people you will have fun with. If you want to know what size group we recommend, click here to learn more!

2. PLAN AHEAD AND BE ON TIME

Every minute counts in an escape room, and nothing is worse than getting stuck in traffic or losing track of time and showing up late to your experience. Often, this means losing time in the room and that’s a HUGE bummer. At Breakout, we always will let you reschedule, but sometimes you might lose money or not have the choice to reschedule, so being on time is key. Most escape rooms will require you to fill out a waiver ahead of time as well, so go ahead and take care of that so when you arrive you can check in, use the restroom, and plan your escape! We recommend arriving 15 minutes before the start time of your game and booking in advance to make sure your local escape room doesn’t sell out.

3. COME IN WITH A POSITIVE ATTITUDE

At Breakout, we’ve learned a little secret: people who come in wanting to have a good time will have a good time even if they don’t break out. No one wants to be the bummer in the room and having a negative attitude or being a bully in an escape room can really bring the whole vibe of the room down. Remember, the goal is FUN, so don’t be so focused on winning that you don’t have a good time. Everyone misses things and makes mistakes in an escape room. If it were super easy, then it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting, so be prepared to be challenged but to have a blast!

**4. UNDERSTAND THE RULES OF THE ROOM

At most Escape Rooms, you will be given a set of rules at the beginning of the experience. It’s easy to ignore these when you are excited and just want to get to the game, but often these rules are for your safety and knowing them can actually help you succeed in a room! Sometimes areas of a game are off limits (like the ceiling for example!) so knowing this can prevent you from wasting precious time during the game. You also will need to know what the final step to break out is, and if you don’t listen to those instructions, you might miss important details. Rules may seem boring, but sometimes paying attention during those few quick minutes of instructions can give you a leg up!

5. KEEP AN EYE ON THE CLOCK

An hour goes by very fast in an escape room and before you know it, you will only have minutes left on the clock! Keeping an eye on the time you have left will allow you to plan your next steps and know when to ask for a hint. Escape rooms are meticulously planned and designed so that you can solve and open everything within an hour, so keep in mind what you have left or what you have already opened. If it seems like you have tons left to explore and you are running out of time, you might be behind! Don’t let appearances fool you though, some puzzles will take some serious brain power and others you will solve quickly. Sometimes, there are hidden rooms in an escape room, so you might discover new things at the last minute! The best rule of thumb is if you haven’t found anything new or opened anything new in 5 minutes, then you might need to go ahead and ask for some help.

6. KEEP A CONSISTENT, DETERMINED APPROACH

Often, we want to know exactly how something is solved in an escape room, and especially when playing with a large group of friends or coworkers, it is easy to miss something happening on the other side of the room. Sometimes you might find yourself saying “wait! What happened?!” but don’t forget, you are still on the clock! You can celebrate and debrief when the game is over, but during the experience, you can save some time by being focused and quickly moving through to the next step. Don't be so focused you can’t have a good time though. Determination is key, but so is having a blast!

7. SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING

Communication is absolutely vital for solving an escape room. This is why escape rooms are 100% team activities! Most rooms are designed so that everyone can be working on something or discovering something new all at the same time, so if you don’t communicate, you might not catch some missing pieces! We often recommend putting all your discovered clues and items together in the middle of the room or calling out everything you find to your team when you discover it. This way, if two people find parts to the same puzzle, they will know it! This especially comes into play when opening locks. Often teams will find a code and everyone will spread out and try a lock, but inevitably, the corresponding lock will be overlooked. If you are all communicating about what you are doing, you will avoid this common escape room mistake!

8. DON’T TAKE OVER THE ROOM

Leadership is so important, and natural leaders find themselves guiding a team and leading them through an escape room experience, but there’s nothing worse than someone who totally takes over. Not only is this no fun for everyone playing, it’s also going to cause you to make mistakes and slow your team down. If you are the natural leader in your team, that’s great! Just make sure you remember that you NEED your whole team to succeed, so don’t bulldoze over their ideas or snatch things from them. Everyone will bring something important to the table when solving an escape room! The best teams work together and utilize their leadership skills alongside organization, strategy, and communication skills. This is why escape rooms are great for team building! If you find yourself being ignored in an escape room, don’t be afraid to speak up. Some of the best ideas come from the quietest and most observant players in the room, so don’t second guess yourself and be willing to speak out about your findings and discoveries.

9. USE YOUR CLUES

One of the great things about escape rooms is almost all of them come with built in clues and hints. At Breakout, you have your own personal game master available the entire time to give you hints and help you move forward when you are stuck. Hints are how you control the level of difficulty at Breakout, so if you want a challenge, then you don’t have to ask for a lot, but if you need an easier experience, then you can ask for as many as you like. Make sure your team is on the same page about taking a hint at the beginning of a game, because one person refusing hints the whole time will really bum out the rest of the group. A lot of people think that taking a hint in an escape room is cheating, but that’s not the case! We won’t walk you through the room, we are just giving you a nudge in the right direction. When we play escape rooms, we always use hints!

10. HAVE FUN

Ultimately, the only goal should be FUN. These games are designed to challenge and excite you, make you think, and make you laugh and enjoy an hour with people you care about. Whether you are coming for a team building office party that is WAY better than any team building you’ve ever experienced or are taking the kids out for a family activity, escape rooms should leave you smiling, not disappointed. If you are competitive, that’s ok, so long as you think competition is fun! Remember that every escape room is new and different and you will never totally know what to expect. So long as you enjoy your time together, you will have won the escape room!