You have been curious about escape rooms and what all the buzz is about, and you are pretty certain you want to play. But you need to know more before you dive into the deep end because that is who you are, then you have come to the right place. Perhaps you are looking for something different to do with your mates or family? Or maybe you have been assigned the task of finding a team-building exercise for your workplace?
Whatever the reason for your curiosity, here’s the ‘4-1-1’ (the skinny), not on why you should book a room for your next outing, you have already decided that. You’re onto the next step already: how to choose the right theme for your escape room game.
What is it?
For clarity, an Escape Room is a team game arranged in a locked room full of clues, challenges, and puzzles, which are inspired by a fun theme, set in such eras as the ‘Roaring 20s’or a space-age apocalypse. Your team has 60 minutes to complete the room full of tasks and wonders.
What are the benefits?
No matter what your reasoning for taking part in an escape room, the benefits of the game are to enjoy the entertainment with a team of people you know or will get to know during the challenges, to stretch and exercise the brain, establish the known, and discover the unknown. Bond with your team as you work together to escape the room before the hourglass runs out of sand.
You will realise that you did learn a few things as a kid in school and that it wasn’t the big waste of time you tried to tell your parents it was after all. Who knew you were paying attention in algebra? You might actually use it to solve a puzzle…or not. This isn’t an exhaustive list; you will experience other benefits too depending on the people you play with and the game you choose.
Did you pay attention to The Da Vinci Code? Remember how to use a cryptex or what a Fibonacci code is? Did you learn anything about symbology? Or are you into Indiana Jones and archaeology? Maybe you are more into Sherlock Holmes, The Lord of the Rings or Star Trek? It is important that your team is interested in the theme, otherwise, it won’t be as enjoyable for some.
What room theme should you choose for your game?
You will need to consider who your team will consist of. Are your team members younger ‘millennials’ or older ‘baby boomers’ for instance? Are there children playing? You might not choose a violent, psychotic murder-themed room for younger team members susceptible to nightmares, or for anyone who has been traumatised in life by a similar situation. But you might choose such a room as that or even a flesh-eating zombie apocalypse for your horror-film-crazed university buddies. So the question might be ‘What are the appropriate options?’
What size group is your team? – Some rooms can be solved with as little as 2 players but can accommodate 8 or more. Rooms might have an optimum number of players in order to win the game within the allotted timeframe. It is best to check with the escape room personnel prior to booking because that can help rule out some incompatible options.
The location you choose will likely have several different themes and stories for their rooms and multiple levels of difficulty/skill required. You might have more than one venue to choose a room from which will increase your options exponentially. It might pay to start at the beginners level unless you and your team members have taken on similar challenges before.
Also, consider if any of the themes require a certain level of physical ability, such as crawling along the ground or lifting a heavy object. Do you have anyone in your group with special needs or susceptibility to say, flashing lights, certain smells, etc. but wants to participate fully? Speak with the escape room company’s staff prior to your booking.
How seriously does your team want to compete? Do you want to achieve the best and fastest room completion times? You might want to be strategic when assembling your team. It’s not necessary to stack your team full of superstars. Where’s the challenge in that? A ‘think tank’ of experts in your room might even implode. You will be surprised what a collective can achieve without the know-it-alls.
How immersive do you want the themed room to be? Some rooms will engage all of the senses, even smells; some might even disable some of your senses. Others will provide costumes for hire or will provide actors in the rooms. If it is escapism you are after, there are some escape rooms that cater to the ‘Nth’ degree.
Research the reviews of escape rooms near you. People might be raving about some room challenges more than others. It all comes down to personal taste in the end, and as in The Highlander, in the end, “There can be only one”. What themes and subjects interest you? Are you ‘the only one’? If so, then maybe don’t take The Highlander that seriously when choosing a theme. A general consensus is best. Whatever you choose, have an exciting, enjoyable experience.