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15 things that create a great escape room

Updated: Jun 1, 2018



While escape rooms are not entirely new among leisure activities, there are limited resource materials on what makes an excellent escape room design. However, we have compiled the top considerations when designing a great escape room.

As a new form of relaxation and adventure, escape rooms must accommodate the surprise and suspense needed to intrigue your visitors. The escape game you craft must also have the room to attract and create a strong first-time impression to make your guests want to come back again.


Here are some things to look for in a great escape room:


1. Identify your audience

First of all, setting up your escape room game must accommodate the specific audience you are targeting. The experience levels and their preferences should guide you. Otherwise, you won’t meet their expectations. Once you have identified your audience, it is easy to write a game that will excite them, and keep them on the edge with every step as they advance in the exploration of your escape room world.


2. Choose a convenient location

While there are shops at every corner of the town, you cannot pick any random place for your escape room. You need a strategic location that will allow you to create the ideal atmosphere for the escape game. Well, the location must at least be an outset that foreshadows or hints the escape room game.

While you may face logistical challenges in identifying the perfect location, you can identify a building with room for improvisation. For instance, if you want an ocean themed escape room game, a building with climbing stairs that exit to the beach is an ideal option.

Also, the inside of the building can be as lively and visually appealing as much as your imagination can conjure. You can paint or hang wall curtains to render the room exactly as you wish it to be.

You can match the theme of the room with your reception space, the doors and the corridor space too. Examples of how to do these include applying murals, graffiti, and wall-paintings.


3. Face your competition

While it is the tradition to open a business in areas with minimal or no competition; it is an excellent idea to go in the opposite direction. Opening your escape space in an area with established escape rooms guarantees you access to escape room enthusiasts, and they will no doubt want to try out the “new thing in town.” It is a successful, unorthodox marketing method.

Besides, healthy competition will give customers a choice to come to your escape room space if you have a unique offering exclusive to you alone.

It will also be easy for you to break into the market with introductory and discount offers as you open the doors of your business to new customers. You can research the average price of your competition and offer an irresistible offer to your potential clients.


4. Devise exciting puzzles

There should be a believable storyline to your escape room game and your puzzle concept should be based on it. Also, the available space in your space and the length of the story provide another dimension for creating your puzzles. While linear puzzles are more common than multilinear puzzles, it is best to have them both. Mind you, the more the intense a story is, the more fun it is.

You can create linear puzzles to accommodate people who would rather not attempt multilinear puzzles. However, multilinear designs are an excellent thrill, and you can combine various linear puzzles into one multilinear puzzle to make it relevant to most people.


5. Music and lighting

For escape room enthusiasts to fall in love with your escape room, they must be passionately invested in it. However, it will not come naturally to them. It is upon you to create and keep a sense of excitement in them. Although it is challenging to trigger excitement, introducing a dream world will immediately catch their attention. They will be curious and passionate about learning all the mysteries that surround it.

Escape games are meant to be lively and enchanting beyond what you audiences expect in gaming experiences.

Audiences love the thrill of an exciting mystery immersed in a lively concept that evokes imagination and transports them to a world outside day-to-day experiences. Combining various soundtracks and lighting patterns is an effective approach to realizing a mystifying escape room. It is common to overlook the power of music and lighting when setting up your escape. Music and lighting allow you to communicate the theme of your escape room game in such a way that your visitors will truly feel that they are in a different world. Besides, matching your lighting patterns and soundtracks to your theme does not require expensive sound engineering or proofing. Basic soundproofing techniques and lights set up will give you a decent gaming environment on par with expectations of your customers.


6. Captivating Story

For your potential customers to be interested in your escape room game, you must have a strong one-liner story to draw them in. However, do not just throw in a story that does not complement the gameplay. Also, do not overdo it either. When customers come into your escape room, they are interested in playing. That is it. A one-minute introduction to the game is enough and giving them a lengthy introduction will bore them and stall the momentum of getting into the game.

When crafting your one-liner story, think of your personal experiences. For instance, if you have gone for a picnic, you can relate to the anxiety when your team leader or tour guide lecturers you about the park or the museum you are visiting before you enter.

Giving a lengthy introduction for your escape room game is the same. It does not add to the fun. In fact, it is an n irritating interruption waste of time.


7. Create a believable protagonist

For every story that has ever scored a high fan base, there is always a remarkable and memorable character, the main character. Your story too must have a protagonist that your visitors can relate to, fall in love with, and care for.

Whether your story borrows its theme from the dystopian genre or the classics, it must be moving and drive your visitors to love it like a real TV show. You will have to master personality and character elements of your protagonist like a real person you have interacted with, they have to be believable and practical. If your visitors can relate to the protagonist and sympathize with him, then, you’ll have succeeded in thrilling them.


8. Provide Helpful Clues

While a mystery is an interesting challenge, it is dull to play without a clue of how to arrive at the answer, or what the answer could be. Therefore, it is a guide idea to provide hints of the game. You could this is by placing hint buttons on the walls so that user can press them to ask for a hint when playing the game.

Once a user presses the hint button the light flashes in the game room for some minutes just enough to spot a few clues. This keeps the game interesting since clues only found one at a time.

Also, the clues you provide should only be a guide to finding the solution and not an obvious pointer to the solution to the puzzle.


9. Improvise with Technology

Creating an exciting escape room game environment does not have to be limited to standard décor. While standard and high-quality furniture can be applied to create visually pleasing rooms, props are only the foundation for a mind-blowing escape room design.

Applying technical solutions allows you to create a memorable wow effect that is both magical and irresistible. While virtual reality has not yet gone mainstream, there are aspects of the technology you can build to create illusions and instances of magic to make your escape room a dream come true for escape room enthusiasts.

Bear in mind that your escape environment will accommodate people with different levels of intelligence and age groups. Some may be tech wizards while others only have a basic grasp on new trends in technology. You should, therefore, aim at achieving a balance between technology applications and traditional components such as padlocks and crossword boards.

A mix of different skills level and logic make a smooth game. Thus, both your traditional and fancy technology components must work together to deliver a workable flow.


10. The Atmosphere

Just like books and movies have a specific setting; your escape room must convey a clear atmosphere where the gaming will take place. Reading a fantasy novel transports you to a world of magic where the impossible happens and intrigues you from page to page. Similarly, the atmosphere of your game should be strong and effective to capture the attention of your visitors and keep them entertained all through.

While it takes great talent and a zeal for perfection to produce a moving novel plot, creating an exciting atmosphere for your escape room is possible with modest effort. For instance, improvising your escape room space with bubble machines, smell and sound effects is as effective as having a soundtrack for a mediation session. It captures the mind and keeps your visitors fully immersed in the gaming world you have created for them.

Additionally, you can employ complementary accessories and clothing to match the theme of your game. Your reception desk can serve as the line for the matching, and accessorizing the visitors' wear to enhance their experience.

However, you would spoil all the fun if you leave your windows open. Opening the outside world to your gaming atmosphere spoils the effect of the applications you have employed and distracts the game-world with the activities outside.

For you to achieve success in delivering a breathtaking atmosphere for your escape room, look for inspirations from popular pop culture music and films that most people can relate to. For instance, a Jurassic Park themed escape room would resonate with a lot of people.


11. Selecting your Themes

While pop culture themes are an excellent choice for an escape room game, you will be competing with various escape rooms out there. Unless you are an already established brand name, it is best to pick a classic theme. Think of a medieval era based theme, pirates, or a legendary kingdom.

If you aspire to wow your visitors, which you should, then you have no choice to apply the references to classic subjects in an innovative and outstanding manner. For instance, if you are from England, there are cities with legends and myths that score historical significance to the locals, and they can make thrilling ideas for authentic gaming themes.

The legend of Merlin, for instance, is exceedingly popular in the folklore of Wales. Basing your theme on the character of Merlin would wow your visitors to no end.

Also, you can create ingenious themes with references to past civilizations with notable historical accounts. For example, the Aztec, Egyptian Pharaohs, Mayans, and ancient Babylon are all excellent choices for a classic theme. It would take your visitors back in time and let them experience the world as it was in ancient times.


12. State-of-the-art Design

When designing your escape room, do not just apply hand-craft that you are familiar with. Instead, consult with a specialty design firm with a proven track record. Unless you are a designer by profession, consult with a design firm.


13. Design unique exit and entry points

Creating suspense and intrigue in an escape room space demands an effective design to incorporate a sense of mystery. Designing entry and exit points in different points is a must-have and an effective way to achieve it. Designing a series of passages, chambers and rooms will have an excellent sense of mystery and clear any obvious access points.


14. Consistency

While you may have one of the best themes and designs, your escape room space won’t have a great appeal if your elements of decoration are not consistent. Matching your décor with the theme of the game is important to create a uniform code for the gaming space.


15. Avoid Predictable game patterns

While adopting technology to improvise the game space is an excellent choice for an imaginative exit game, do not fall for the mainstream gaming patterns that are typical of virtual reality. Ensure you limit your application of virtual reality to an acceptable level that won’t feel just like another VR gaming experience.

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