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How to Maximise Your Hourglass of Time in an Escape Room…

Whether you are new to the escape room game or an old hat, time is always a factor, because the clock is always ticking. The proverbial sands are running through the bottleneck of time, and your chances to succeed are dwindling and your senses feeble.

Maximising your opportunities is of the gravest importance. The idea of failure hangs in the balance like a noose around your neck. You must grit your teeth and seethe “Not today, Evil!”

You are partly to the finish line when you shake your fist at the forces of darkness, but push pause for a moment, now rewind…

Before the sands of time…

You are now back at the beginning, before the beginning actually. You are in preparation mode. Good! There are plans to make before the big hand strikes the witching hour. Some of the preparations you can make are simple but so beneficial.

Like any exam prep, you need to ask yourself, ‘Self, what do I need for this challenge?’

there was knowledge…

Do you know what an escape room is? Yes, that is a simple step.

An escape room is a team-geared challenge, so you will not be on your own. You will have your survival skills as well as your teammates’. The challenge is timed. It is very important not to let time slip away (hence needing to pause and rewind) so that you can complete your escape room challenge.

The challenge is a scenario with a series of puzzles, clues, problem-solving, riddles, hints, etc. These clues and such will be hidden around the room, or in plain sight. Speaking of sight and the senses, all faculties will be tested. For instance, if you smell gas, you might check the stove, or cast a dirty glance at your smelly teammates. If you feel a draught, you should find out where it is coming from.

the beginning…

Wear your comfy pants. Being comfortable will keep your mind on the important facts, not your aching feet. Know where you are going and how to get there. Make sure you and your teammates arrive before the game is to begin. You can’t afford to start on the back foot and have to make up time.

If you arrive early, you will be able to mentally prepare, meditate and feel the strategic force of zen ease your mind. The scenario will become clear before the dark clouds of doubt have a chance to roll in. Being at ease and not feeling a sense of hurried stress will benefit your team on your journey.

the players…

Have you decided who and how many will play? Who are all of you? Do you know yourself, your strengths and your weaknesses? How well do you know your teammates? The good news is that you do not have to provide a dream team of geniuses and experts because doing so might actually hurt your chances. But having a well-balanced team might be a peaceful option, and the minimum number might be better than the maximum.

It is important that you all get along harmoniously. Flare-ups will only slow your progress down if you have to soothe 1 or more team member’s feelings. It is about having fun, first and foremost.

Will your team communicate efficiently? Do you have a friend who is good at visual puzzles, 1 that is great with their hands, and 1 who knows random facts? Are you the born leader or a conscientious follower? There will be parts to play and ways to play them. Appoint a time-keeper.

the journey…

It will be long and arduous (well, not that long – only 60 minutes of sand is in the hourglass). The journey will be fraught with tasks, clues, and a blinding crossroads of darkened paths to consider. There will be themes to choose from. Pick 1 that interests all.

Listen well as the story unfolds. There might be verbal clues within the riddle (they don’t call it a riddle lightly). Remember what has been foretold.

Your journey will ask much of you. Try different approaches, angles and strategies. Don’t leave any stones unturned, especially if there is a stone; stones are sacred. Remember, that any object can be a clue or an omen. Follow any written instructions you may be given. If a note says don’t push this button, then don’t push the button. It is not a test, but a warning from the oracle.

Have someone in your team catalogue your clues. If you need guidance, ask the gods (the journey angels you met at the beginning of your challenge – you know – the friendly staff), they will help you on your path of discovery.

even an ending…

Mark your way, and retrace your steps if you need to. Be encouraging (even if the idea seems whack). Be thorough, because the universe may not reveal her answers until you need them. Truth reveals itself in its own time.

What may seem like the end, may not unlock the door. If you haven’t found the right key, try a different one, or perhaps try another lock. Have a teammate cast a glance over a problem for a varied perspective. If there is no end in sight, don’t despair.

or perhaps a new beginning…

There may be another room, a new beginning, with another set of tests and tips. Remember to communicate. Keep no secrets from your friends. The journey is meant to be experienced and each player a contributor. Time is not on a single, linear path, nor should your team walk just 1 straight line.

Working together sometimes means working separately for a while. Remember your strengths and weaknesses; you will have your own journeys within the whole. If a key opens a lock, don’t confuse yourself by removing it again. It has served its purpose. Some objects have no purpose. Be discerning. Not all knowledge will be difficult to gain.

Travel lightly. Your cataloguer should keep a journal of un/used objects, but remember them. If an item, perhaps a book, seems out of place, where should it likely go? (An empty, book-sized hole on the shelf? You get it.) Ask questions of your world; do not just accept everything as it is given thee (you). Seek the answers and ye (you) shall find.

In Conclusion

Take your time, or time will take you! Don’t panic or rush. The more efficiently your team moves throughout the game, the quicker your results and the likelihood of escaping. But, if an escape is not in your cards this time, you haven’t failed as long as you have fun and learn all the wisdom along the way. There is always the next life (your next escape), a new beginning, and a new journey.