Top 5 tips to winning an escape room

Top 5 tips to winning an escape room

As well as playing escape rooms, I’ve also created some small-scale escape room experiences for my co-workers. Having the benefit of watching teams from the outside, I’ve come to notice a few things that mean the different between escaping and … well, not.

So here are the things you can do to ensure victory, no matter your team size or the difficulty of the room.

Joul’s Scream by Boris Lechaftois is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Communicate constantly

At first this might seem like a bad idea. Six people all talking at once? Surely that’s a recipe for disaster?

But the one thing I’ve noticed time and again is that the teams that don’t get out are always the same teams that don’t talk to one another during the game.

Announce the props you find as you scan the room. Shout out how many digits this combination lock needs. Talk about the puzzle you’ve just found. It’ll almost feel like you’re narrating your every move. But it works.

If you all do this you’ll pick up on clues much faster, you’ll be able to work collaboratively and you’ll be able to find solutions much easier.

Leader lock by JoyBot is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Get someone else to try your lock

It’s frustrating when you’ve tried the same code a hundred times and the damn thing still won’t open. So you move on. And get stuck for 20 minutes because you have to crack that lock.

Having someone else try before you move on makes sure that it’s the wrong code. Maybe you didn’t line up the numbers just right or didn’t apply enough force on the lock.

Or, and this is quite a common one, you didn’t double-tap on the shackle of a directional lock to reset the code.

PSA: ALWAYS reset the directional lock before you attempt a code. A quick double tap on the shackle and you’re good to go.

Keys by Jim Pennucci is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Create a discard pile

Escape rooms are 60 minutes of organised chaos, so you don’t want to be wasting precious time going over clues that someone else has already figured out.

As soon as you enter the room, designate an area where you’ll place any used locks and solved clues.

It’s quite rare for an escape room to use the same clue to solve multiple puzzles, so doing this from the outset should save you time.

stack of books by Living Room of the City is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Don’t waste time poring through books

I get it. You see a stack of books, you think “there must be something in those” and proceed to search through every single book, hoping for something will jump out at you.

Don’t bother.

Most escape rooms have a fairly streamlined approach to getting you from start to finish, and rifling through a stack of books is just a waste of time (and is the opposite of fun).

Instead, quickly flick through them to check if they’re hollow or if something falls out of them. If not, drop them and move on. Any puzzle that requires you to get information from a book should be signposted well enough.


Combination by Don Harder is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Three numbers are as good as four

Some puzzles have you collect the numbers of a combination lock code one by one.

Granted, at first there are literally 10,000 possible combinations to try out. But once you’ve collected three digits, why bother searching for the final one?

Try out varaitions of the combination using your three found digits with 0-9 as your final number. With only 10 possibilities, you’ll crack the code in no time.

PSA: Don’t try this with a digital lock if you know or suspect there to be a penalty / lock out for too many incorrect attempts. It’s not worth it.

Share your tips

What’s helped you and your team escape in time? Share your tips in the comments

Jamie Gibbs

Jamie Gibbs

An excitable nerd whose escape room excitement outstrips his expertise, Jamie can often be found overcomplicating the simplest of puzzles. He's a proud Ravenclaw and is quite fond of the odd board game.