Hitting an Escape Room Wall: How to Find a Solution Fast When the Clock is Ticking
If you’ve ever done an escape room before, you know the feeling: the clock is rapidly winding down and you’re just…stuck! But what do you do when you hit a wall in an escape room? These real-life adventure games are so varied that it’s nearly impossible to figure out any universal “cheats” (and where’s the fun in that anyway?). Instead, check out these helpful tips to keep in mind the next time you find yourself racing against the clock in an escape room experience.
- Turn that room inside out.
When time is winding down, you don’t have time to be unsure about what you can and cannot touch in the room. The general rule is that if you weren’t told not to touch it, then it’s fair game. The most agile escape room teams will blow through the room like a tornado, ransacking every conceivable detail of the room for clues so that they can get down to the business of analyzing what’s what. Look under things, over things and inside of things such as books, paintings (including what the painting depicts), carpets, lamps, rugs, chess pieces, etc. Leave no stone unturned, so that you can get a good sense of what you really have to work with.
- Leave dead ends as soon as you find them.
Mismanagement of the time clock is one of the deadly sins of escape room teams, and it often happens because participants are wasting time trying to make a dead end work when it just won’t. As soon as you recognize that a particular clue or object is leading you on a wild goose chase, drop it and keep looking for more productive leads.
- Manage your hints wisely.
Most escape room facilities will give you a little bit of help as you’re trying to figure out how to beat the clock. For example, Houdini’s Room Escape in Cincinnati offers teams a certain number of hints or clues to help them along when they hit a sticking point in their progress.
While you definitely want to use your wits as much as possible, many teams make the grave mistake of waiting too long to ask for a hint because they don’t want to use it up too soon in the game. This causes them to burn too much time spinning their wheels and getting nowhere. While each escape room is different, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is to never go more than 7-10 minutes without solving some kind of riddle or puzzle that can lead you closer to the ultimate answer.
- Break up the team into smaller groups and communicate often.
There’s no sense in having the entire team scratching their heads over one single clue. Break up the team into smaller groups (maybe twos) and send them off to explore other aspects of the room, but remember to communicate very clearly and very often in order to keep everyone on the same page. Since separate clues often relate to one another, make sure to fill the entire team in on your discoveries, so that you can compare notes and work toward a solution.
Many times, it’s the very small details that can mean the difference between escaping the room and getting caught inside when the timer runs out. Keep the above tips in mind to help your team play a smarter game and beat that clock on your next escape room adventure!