Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Columbo might have all the skills, but learning from the real-life detectives will take your time in an Escape Room to the next level. You see, treating a game like a crime scene will put you into a certain type of mindset. We call it the “Inspector” mode.
Whether you work with a partner to sift through evidence, make your own conclusions about the decor or have your eyes on the culprit within minutes, there’s work to do!
With time running away from you, a case to solve, how will you make your escape like a detective? Let’s have a look:
Take time to examine the room
Evidence is kind of a big deal for detectives. Unlike their fictional counterparts, though, real-life crime scene investigation uses forensics to determine what happened, how it happened and who was ultimately involved.
What’s more, they rarely single-handedly collect and analyse evidence by themselves. Even Sherlock has Watson to back him up! It’s a team effort.
Real-life detectives will apply what they have learned through criminal investigation cases, and guess what, there’s nothing to stop you following suit in a game.
Take your time to look over the room. Get a feel for the atmosphere, refer to the game synopsis and listen out for tell tale features in the soundtrack or music being played. What do you notice? Is there a running theme?
There will likely be clues hidden in plain sight too. So with your team, talk about what you see, and analyse specific features as you go.
Get to know the character(s) of the story
Detectives like to use a tool called criminal or psychological profiling. By using a set of investigative techniques, detectives will work out the characteristics of an offender by closely examining the characteristics found at the crime scene and the crime itself.
While you may have losely given the game’s room a once over, its time to take a closer look.
Get down on your hands and knees and look under tables, find unlocked drawers and feel under pictureframes to see if they move (if they don’t, leave it alone!)
See that jacket draped over the chair? Pick it up! Have a look at the label. Feel around in the pockets and see if there is anything hidden in the seams.
Is there a light on the desk? What is it highlighting? Anything knocked over? Take a look.
Rarely is anything placed in a game without reason. Every prop, poster and placement of items serves a purpose.
A story is being told here. Who are the characters? What actions have they taken? Who have they interacted with, and why?
Seek out codes, locks and keys
While some keys for instance will be locked in a box, hidden behind the picture frame or concealed in a drawer, you should still look for them.
All detectives know that there is usually some method to each criminals madness as it were. So look closely about the character description. What do you learn about them from the synopsis? Are any of their clothes left in the room? A note they’ve written or a discarded glass on the table? Does any of that information lead you to where a key is hidden?
Codes can be letters, symbols or numbers. So think outside of the box. Look along bookshelves, and see what order the books have been placed in. Does anything stand out? Is there anything written on the spine?
Or, what about the map on the wall? Can you find something else that goes with it? Maybe you need the co-ordinates to unlock the safe in the corner?
Cracking the code
Now that you’ve found crucial clues and you may have even began to piece some of the bigger elements of the mystery together, you need to focus on cracking the code itself.
While you might not be well versed in morse code, whoever has designed this game is. But equally, they aren’t going to leave you without everything you need to decipher their message. Once you’ve found where (a) the handy morse code tablet is and (b) the source of the code – maybe a radio or a static TV perhaps! – it’s time to get to work.
The easiest way to crack morse code is to get your partner in on the action. One of you should read the cipher whilst the other jots down the outcome – then voila, you have a sentence or a sequence of numbers that will open something up that is crucial to the case!
But it might be a series of numbers that you found etched into the side of the books on the shelf, or missing letters redacted from the sheet of paper left on the side. Whatever code information you find, don’t forget to look for the source, or the place/object you need to input it into!
Jot down key ideas as you go
The best detectives around keep tabs on all the important information they find. No matter how trivial or massive the clue or evidence is, jotting it down on a piece of paper as you go will help you to pull all the facts together towards the end of your game.
That way, you can create a linear path of evidence and solve the case more quickly. After all, there’s usually only 60 minutes on the clock for you to test your mettle.
Co-operative minded play
While playing an Escape Room, always remember that you’re in it together. Like Sherlock to Watson, Linden to Holder and Castle to Beckett, everyone does much better when they communicate well and work as one.
First off, you’re playing one of the most fun, challenging and immersive experiences around. But more than that, it gives you an opportunity to push yourself and embrace skills that you may not have realised you had.
Playing like a detective adds to the fun of an Escape Room. From scouring rooms for evidence to unlocking codes, you get to think like an investigator for an adrenaline-packed hour. Do you think you have what it takes to make your escape?