24 Feb, 2020

What Makes an Escape Room Challenging?

Escape rooms consist of a variety of dynamic features that merge together to form a single puzzling concept – a concept that continues to grow in popularity year on year. So, which of these design features and formats adds to the overall difficulty of each room? Let’s take a look…

Puzzle Volume Vs. Time Limit

A limited amount of time creates pressure, and pressure leads to mistakes. The more there is to do inside an escape game, the more mistakes will be made as a result of the time that steadily melts away. The best way to counteract this is to divide your team up and attack different sections of the room at the same time!

Non-Linear vs. Linear Narrative

The difficulty of each room is highly dependent on whether the room’s narrative is linear or non-linear.

A linear room will have an ordered structure, where players must complete the puzzles in a specific sequence in order to advance through the narrative – resulting in a successful escape after you’re locked in the room.

A non-linear narrative is much more complicated. Think of a non-linear escape room as a sort of free-for-all, where the clues, puzzles and locks can be completed in any sequence. This means solving a code or puzzle will give you a random clue to a random puzzle and it’s up to you to find out whichever it belongs to! 

Communication-Focussed Rooms

Properly communicating with your teammates is an essential requirement for all escape rooms. There are, however, communication-focused rooms that split your team in half, forcing each subgroup to rely heavily on communication skills to advance through the narrative. 

This is done through small cut-outs in the wall partition or with walkie-talkies when there is a complete separation. Being able to accurately describe clues and puzzles with communication alone is extremely challenging – even when the clues and puzzles themselves are relatively simple. Only the best will be able to do this well!

Clue Distribution

Clues play a crucial role in the speed at which a team can escape. The variety and delivery of each clue changes from game to game, meaning the rooms have to be thoroughly searched, checked and double-checked – don’t be surprised if you eventually find a clue that was hiding in plain sight the entire time!