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What Makes a Good Escape Room?
By Mastermind | 07.02.2016 | Categories: escape room, games

Escape rooms offer a sense of mystery, adventure and irresistible challenge. Getting that perfect mix of theme and enjoyable puzzle mechanics requires no small amount of attention to detail. Any out of place element or overly perplexing clue can ruin the fun.

Since fun is what escape rooms are all about, any designer worth their salt will focus on the following elements to ensure that escape room participants have a great time, every time.

A Sense of Narrative Flow

Storytelling draws people in. That’s why movies, books, shows and video games are multibillion dollar businesses. It is also why we obsess over developing news stories and try to read between the lines, looking for a full sense of the tale that is being woven.

With escape rooms, designers use the narrative hook of storytelling to motivate curiosity. Finding that next clue becomes more important if you learn why the clue was left in the first place. Also, creating characters and backstories for the challenges offers extra subtext to guide your next decision. If you are in a film noir detective setting, for instance, maybe that empty bottle of whiskey is more important than it seemed?

Creating a rich narrative around escape rooms is certainly not easy, but designers who get it right make the experience that much more engrossing and memorable.

A Puzzle Sequence That Works

Fun can come to a screeching halt when you get stuck on a puzzle. Of course the puzzle shouldn’t be too easy, but running customers into a dead end only leads to frustration.

To find the right balance of challenge and guidance, most escape rooms have multiple clue threads laying around. Participants who get stuck on something can work on another loose end until it leads them somewhere else. Sometimes, a clue found in the beginning won’t even make sense to a group until towards the very end.

Escape room designers mull these balance issues carefully and try to give participants enough to chew on so they do not get stuck but enough obscurity that they cannot solve puzzles just by trying the first thing that comes to mind. After all, solving a problem is so much more rewarding when it requires effort.

Dramatic Themes

Themes admittedly pull people into puzzles better than any other design element. We have active imaginations, so getting the chance to pretend we are superheros in training or trying to prevent a time-bending apocalypse ups the immersion and the stakes.

Creating a cohesive theme involves countless hours of planning. It also requires designers to go out and find props, furniture and decorations that fit 100 percent in theme.

At the same time, we want to guide participants in a consistent way, which means not making something that is supposed to be a banal prop look like a clue. Naturally, there are times for exceptions when a hint is telegraphed in an unexpected way, but participants should never feel cheated by an unexpected jump in logic.

All of these elements make a fun, colorful and memorable theme one of the hallmarks of well-designed escape rooms. You can enjoy all of these qualities as well as friendly service any time you visit our escape room games in Atlanta or a city near you!