The problem with escape rooms
Me and my bro went to an escape room yesterday. Overall had a good time and managed to escape (with dozens of hints from the game master and blazing 7 seconds left in the clock).
Me and my bro, photo by my bro
I love escape rooms, but so far every every (2/3) escape room I've been in makes the same mistake, which completely breaks immersion:
Shit don't make any sense
Escape rooms are supposed to be immersive games, which contain multiple puzzles. Solving the puzzles allows you to escape the room. If you want to make that escape room immersive, like it's supposed to be, the puzzles need to fit the setting. When designing a game you need to ask "why is this here?" instead of just adding stuff for the sake of adding stuff.
Why is the wooden box locked with and combination lock, for which you can find the code from inside an empty spray can? Why does the wooden box contain a bingo sheet? Why does the bingo sheet contain a code for another lock, which unlocks a hidden door from an office room to a dressing room? Why is there hidden door at all?
For an escape room to be immersive, there needs to be story and that story has to make sense. Every clue, every puzzle should paint you a clearer picture of the story. Don't just throw random puzzles which don't make any sense.
Another problem is that the puzzles usually just aren't designed well. A good puzzle should be self-explanatory; the problem should be solving the puzzle, not figuring out what needs to be solved. But that's for another rant.
I'm sure there are many great escape rooms out there, I just haven't found one yet.
Bonus points for escape rooms:
- Use props which fit the room
- Explain why there's a time limit
- Don't use a padlock every single time
- Don't make the room linear; as there are multiple players, everyone should be able to work on something
- Ask "why is this here?"
- Design good puzzles
- Hide the cameras
- Extra bonus points if you have a story about why there is a game master who gives you hints
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