We’ve visited quite a few escape rooms in the last year and a half. Some were ok, some were awesome and some were unbelievably awesome. We’ve prepared a list of five factors that, in our opinion, have the greatest impact on escape room experience.
Communication with the room master
Almost every room offers some sort of communicating with the room master in case they get stuck or want a hint. It can really differ from room to room, what kind of communication they offer. Most frequent one we encounter in the escape rooms we visited is basically waving at the camera, alerting the room master you want a hint. They would, later, display the hint on the screen with the timer, helping the team to the next puzzle. This wide spread way of communicating does the trick, and is quite efficient. We’ve encountered some other ways also, such as using the intercom, or even knocking on the doors to the room to alert the room master.
As it’s not a really big deal and it doesn’t have an immense effect on the overall experience, we want to point out our favourite: the walkie-talkies! It offers awesome two-way communication, that is, in our experience, a lot faster and more clear than all the others. Have a question? It’s in your reach, just press that button. Didn’t get the last hint? Ask the room master to repeat it. All in all, walkie-talkies are a joy to have as a mean of communication with room masters.
Well timed hints
A well timed hint can really save the day. It’s easy to get sidetracked sometimes, or stuck on some puzzle you can’t even solve yet – and here is where room master with a well put hint can come to the rescue. Room masters have a bit of a feeling how far into escape room should the group be at specific time, and the best room masters can guide even not so experienced group to finish right around the timer runs down. A hint to early or too late into the game can ruin the experience, either pushing the group too far ahead, or setting them too far back in a case of early/late hints.
Room story and atmosphere
Boy oh boy! Everyone likes a room with a good story behind it! We’ve been to lots of prison cells, difused a couple of bombs, solved a couple of murders and so on – the themes of the rooms are often repeated. So what makes YOUR room different? Put a good story behind it, connect it with local legend or a real, famous person, add a bit of mystery to it, and voila! You have a perfectly set escape room story. Try to expand the usual “So, you’re trapped in a prison cell, you have an hour to escape” story into well connected, rounded story. Have room masters present the story behind the room well, and if needed, into details before the group enters the room. It really adds to immersion, and can be the difference between good and awesome escape room.
From our experience, even if you have to wait a bit longer for the room master to explain the story of the room, it’s totally worth it! We’ve visited one of the rooms of a escape rooms company in Spain, and were only planning to visit one of their rooms. After being presented with awesome story behind it, we decided we needed to visit the other ones also, and we were not dissapointed!
And of course, the puzzles! Bread and butter of a good escape room. Sure, you could say that many, many puzzles and tricks have been used before – and they were! Quite a few puzzles repeat themselves in different rooms, maybe in different variations, but the same principles. Those are just there to fill the puzzle gap, and if you keep them different enough, it isn’t even noticable that much. We are talking about THE puzzle in the room (or, a set of puzzles, which makes room even better and more rememberable). The puzzle that sticks in your brain, for long after you come out. The puzzle where you cannot bealive, how couldn’t you figure that out before. Or the puzzle for which you are still not quite sure how it technically worked.
There are quite a few ways to impress the visitors – and we can safely sady, that every single one of the rooms we grade to be the best had at least one of the jaw-dropping puzzles in it. Make sure to try something special, and make your visitors look in awe.
Room master and debreifing
Maybe some of you wouldn’t place it so high up the list, but in the end we decided that friendliness of room master sits right there at the top. The escape room experience doesn’t stop when you solve the last puzzle and exit the room, escape room experience ends when you leave the building. We’ve had a couple of cases, where, after solving the room, we were (maybe, at best) offered to take a photo, and then awkwardly stand there, saying nothing. Maybe some of the people really don’t want to talk after their room escape, but we believe that for most of the people it is a really exciting experience and want to talk about it for a bit.
It’s always awesome to know a bit more about the rooms and the company, comment on some puzzles etc. Some of the best experiences that we had in the rooms were actually based on the experience AFTER we exited the room, even if it wasn’t really all that awesome. Sit down with your clients, talk with them a bit. Offer them something to drink, ask them about how they liked it, compared to other escape rooms they might have been in before. It takes 15 minutes of your time, but it can mean the world to your visitors, and really, really adds makes visiting your room awesome!
Do you agree with our list? Add a comment below and let us know!