How To Beat An Escape Room

Escape rooms are a game where a group of friends or co-workers get locked into a space to play some puzzles, so they can all win the reward of leaving the room slightly early. Maybe you love escape rooms and you want to get faster at them; maybe you hate them and you want to get them over with. Either way, you’ll learn something from this video on how to approach any escape room.

Mark Rober, a YouTuber who previously revealed the scams in carnival games, talked to Dr. Scott Nicholson, designer of the Red Bull Escape Room World Championships.

Rober presents ten tips for figuring out the puzzles in an escape room, like how to avoid red herrings, how to organise your clues, and which spots in a room you should always check (like under tables and rugs).

Here are three of our favourite strategies from Rober:

Choose a project manager

Poor communication, says Nicholson, is the top reason that teams fail. And the best way to improve communication is to assign a project manager. This person doesn’t look for clues. Instead, everyone else comes to them with any new information, and the project manager shouts it out: “We’re looking for something green with a vowel written on it!”

Look for common codes

Look out for Morse code, digital-display-style numbers, bold colours, and simple shapes. But also know that most escape rooms assume no specialised knowledge; if you’re given a clue in braille, you won’t need to know the braille alphabet to solve it. The game designer will help you along with some other clues or limitations. You just need to recognise the type of code being used, so you can find it elsewhere in the room.

Know how escape rooms are designed

Escape rooms are designed and produced by different creators, but they tend to follow many of the same rules and principles. Knowing these will save you time on almost all rooms.

For example, most rooms have a “one lock, one use” policy, which means that once you’ve found a use for certain clues or keys, you can safely ignore them for the rest of the puzzle. And in most rooms, you won’t need to disassemble anything like a ceiling light fixture, or pore through page after page of a book. Remember, these are designed so that a decent number of people can solve them in an hour.

Unless, of course, you’re in an escape room specifically designed to fool experienced escape room fans—which you’ll know ahead of time. For the vast majority of rooms, you’ll do better (but still feel challenged) if you study these tips. Mark and his friends tested all these tips on three escape rooms, and while they won them all—and broke the record on one—they still took 38 minutes or more to solve each room. So don’t worry, these tips won’t ruin the game—escape rooms are still hard.


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