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5 Common Escape Room Mysteries And How To Solve Them

Come, sit at the sage's feet as we try and tackle the greatest mysteries facing the world of escape rooms.
Looking for escape room tips instead? Read this guide
Shirley watson puzzle master
Play enough escape rooms, and you'll undoubtedly face these questions. Maybe solving them will help you improve?

Wait... What Do You Mean by a 'Mystery'?

Life is full of strange, unanswered questions, and the same is true for the escape room hobby. These 'mysteries' are common questions that people have about escape room games, often because things just don't seem to be adding up.

As you get a few games under your belt you'll start to come across these questions. Being able to answer them will help you understand escape room games a little better, and may even improve your skills. So, here's our best shot at unraveling five of the world's greatest escape room mysteries! Read on and profit.
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Escape Room Mystery No. 1 — Why Is My Team Rubbish?

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Teamwork is important to winning an escape room. Like, really important. That's why we wrote up a whole team guide, here. But what if you just can't catch a win? Why is your team so bad? There are several possibilities. If you have two or three different groups, and they're all bad, you do need to consider the common denominator. You. But there could be other solutions to this escape room mystery.

You may have picked an extremely hard room. At the end of one of our games, the gamemaster explained that almost no one makes it in one hour. She offered us the choice of seeing the solution or coming back another day. We came back the next day and barely finished. We weren't that bad. The game was just that tough.

Your team may lack communication skills. Is everyone talking and nobody listening? Did you only solve that puzzle because Jane gave you the hint she found ten minutes ago? Your team needs to communicate constantly and exchange information when discovered. Appoint one person to hold all clues and consult with him frequently.

Everyone needs a role. If everyone is running around on their own, you're not on a team. Every sports team has a coach. Every band has a lead singer. You get the idea. An unorganized group of people wastes time, misses clues, and struggles to escape even the easiest rooms. They can't make it out of a wet paper bag.
Your team needs a leader. The leader will assign roles, organize the team, and ensure that clues are not missed. Your team also needs a searcher, a logistician (to organize the clues/puzzles you collect), and a puzzle pro. If you have enough people, you can also assign someone to the role of team mascot. When times get tough, rub the mascot's head for good luck!

Make sure that you breathe. The initial surge of adrenaline is incredible. The clock starts. Team members fan out around the room, uncovering clue after clue. You can see the team finishing in record time!

As the greatest escape room player ever, Indiana Jones once said, "that's usually when the bottom drops out." You hit the difficult puzzle. It doesn't make sense. Each team member tries to contribute, which usually leads to more chaos. Energy drops. Optimism fades. You see nothing but worried faces around the room.

Don't let this stop you. Take a minute and regroup. Call an escape room timeout (although the clock still runs). Have everyone take a deep breath, then confront the problem with renewed energy. You will escape!

Do they even care about winning? Some teams just love being in a cool room, walking across sand, or the inside of a pirate ship. If they escape, great, but it's not a big deal. They'll have a blast either way. They only want a stress free sixty minutes.

If winning is important to you, find a new team. You don't want to be on the Generals when you can be a Globetrotter. Find some competitive players and attack the next room!
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Escape Room Mystery No. 2 — Why Can't I Solve the Puzzles?

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At least one puzzle in every room will challenge you. Don't despair! You may not be as bad as you think (then again, maybe you are). Answer these questions to uncover the truth behind this escape room mystery. Then, read this guide to improve your skills even more.

Are you listening to your team? While you struggle with the solution, they may have perspectives and clues that could speedily solve the puzzle. Make sure that you listen to them, especially when they are trying to point you in the right direction.

Does the puzzle suit your strengths? You know what you're good at. If you're bad at math, stay away from math problems. If you're terrible at spatial reasoning, avoid the shape manipulation problem. If you're terrible at everything, choose great teammates. Make sure each team member tackles problems suited to their abilities.
Have you developed tunnel vision? Remember, the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Ask someone for help. Try to view the problem from a different angle. Taking a fresh perspective often leads to a quick solution.

Do you have the proper goal in mind? If the lock has four numbers, exclude all clues that don't produce those numbers. This helps narrow the focus. The less you chase red flags, the quicker you escape.

Are you willing to look silly? Considering that you are trying to escape from fake zombies after being locked in a room by a pimple-faced teenager, this shouldn't be a problem! Don't hesitate to look under counters, tables, or sofa cushions (you may not escape, but you may find some loose change). Make odd suggestions, like turning the paper upside down or flipping the sequence of numbers to the lock. Remember, the game designers are just a touch off. You have to think like them to win!

Are you willing to ask for help? Remember your Greek mythology? The gods always punished excessive pride. Be willing to ask for a hint from the gamemaster. It may add three minutes to your score, but not asking may cause you to spend an extra ten minutes on the puzzle. If you're stuck, ask!
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Escape Room Mystery No. 3 — How Do I Interest My Friends In Escape Rooms?

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In the words of Billy Joel, "tell them about it/tell them everything you feel/give them every reason/to accept escape room joy for real." Okay, maybe Billy wasn't singing about escape rooms, but he should have. If you have some reluctant friends, try these tips.

Make sure they understand this isn't a glorified word problem. Highlight the immersive and adventurous aspects of the game. Show them pictures to give them a feel for the setup. A picture is worth 1000 words and may lead to your friends' first escape room.

Solving this escape room mystery may be as simple as choosing the right theme. If they like the Walking Dead, find a zombie-themed escape room. If they like needlepoint, you may need to find other escape room friends.

Coordinate the outing. Escape rooms fit up to eight people. Volunteer to do the difficult work of scheduling the game. Your friends will have so much fun that someone else will volunteer to set up the next one!

Make it an event. Schedule the escape room, then head out for dinner and drinks. People will be much more willing to sign on if you create more of a party atmosphere. And the conversations about the game over drinks are always epic!

BONUS tip - try making your own custom escape room game. Create a game specifically for escape room newbies, you can tailor the whole experience to make sure they enjoy it!

Escape Room Mystery No. 4 — Why Are Escape Rooms Dimly Lit?

To a large extent, the solution to this escape room mystery depends on the designer and the theme. Sometimes, in an attempt to make the room more challenging, they dim the lights. This keeps clues from standing out, forcing you to focus more.

Sometimes the theme dictates the lighting. If the setting is Marie Laveau's home in the Louisiana swamp or King Tut's tomb, dim lighting helps give the proper atmosphere for the game. You won't find a voodoo queen in bright sunlight. Hopefully, you don't find her anywhere.

The room must be mostly dark if the designer wants to make a blacklight part of the game. Blacklights are really fun. Make sure you shine the blacklight over every surface to ensure you don't miss any clues.

If you're afraid of the dark, read online reviews before you go. This will help you understand what type of experience to expect.
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Escape Room Mystery No. 5 — Should I Worry About Escape Room Success Rates?

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Success rates are a helpful guide but not the final word on the game's difficulty. They're meant to tell you how many people escape, but they don't provide all the information you need. The team's composition impacts how quickly it finishes each room. The solution to this escape room mystery is don't let escape room success rates scare you off.

Of course, a low success rate could signal a tough room. When deciding on different rooms at the same location, which were presumably designed by the same people, you can use it to rank the rooms' difficulty level. The numbers mean less when trying to decide between competing escape room companies.

The number could mean that more casual escape room players play the room. This could happen in top escape rooms, which draw more visitors. If you are an escape room veteran, your chances may be higher than the posted success rate.

A low success rate could mean a poorly designed room. A designer that puts too many puzzles, especially too many hard puzzles, into a room ruins the game for the players. While most escape rooms have excellent designs, some are too hard, even for frequent players.

A room with a low success rate signals a challenge. Until you start, you won't know if that means a fight with the next door neighbor or a match against Mike Tyson. Either way, you're sure to have fun!

Head Back Into The Fray!

We've given you the behind the scene tour of the five greatest escape room mysteries. 

Armed with superior knowledge, you can cruise through any escape room you choose! And if you don't, it's not our fault!
Read up on even more escape room tips here
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