Escape Room Puzzle Ideas
Who doesn’t love a good puzzle? While some certainly exhibit it a bit more than others, there is a spirit of competition and conquest in all of us that needs to be fed every once in a while, and puzzles offer that opportunity within a pretty comfortable space. And they’re actually quite lucrative too. Games and puzzles of all sorts are expected to reach nearly $30 billion dollars globally within the next few years as developers are pushing the boundaries further and further.
Escape rooms play a big role in that. Strip away the themes and the props, move past the technological bells and whistles, and you find that the beating heart of every escape room is a puzzle begging to be solved. If an escape room is a living body, the puzzles are the organs, and just like our own organs sometimes, we can take them for granted. The truths is that you don’t have to invest thousands of dollars to make a great puzzle in an escape room, and here are some examples to prove that point.
We love this puzzle. PanIQ Room has been using it from day one for decoding simple messages. It’s easy to use, but the payoff is pretty big. A message looks like gibberish until a special lens is placed over top of it, revealing a secret message. You can purchase the product online and create the messages on this website.
Syctale is one of the oldest code encryption methods, used by ancient Greeks and Egyptians alike. All you need is a rod and a long strip with letters on it. It’s easy to see that it’s a coded message, but the trick is that it will only reveal it’s message when wrapped around a rod of the right diameter. Here’s a great video that shows how it would have used.
Connect the Dots
Ahh, the good ‘ol days of kindergarten. The smell of little kids not used to being away from home, the taste of paste and crayons, and endless dot-to-dot sheets. Strangely enough, these simple puzzles work pretty well for older folk in escape rooms as well. All you need is a pen and an erasable printed surface with dots on it. You can come up with any kind of shape or message that will help players to solve the next puzzle. We sometimes use this with blind maps, where certain cities function as the dots.
$70 billion a year can’t be wrong … Americans love to scratch cards. In an escape room, it’s a fun way to hide codes and messages because players don’t usually expect it. And it’s probably easier than you think to have them made to suit whatever theme or use you can come up with (unless you already think it’s pretty easy … then is probably about as easy as you think).
Visualize a picture that gives out two different words depending on the orientation; that’s an ambigram. It’s made using a special calligraphy form that can be read as one word, but then read as a completely different word if you flip it upside down. We have created special wall frames using these; it’s always funny to see how players recognize that they can and MUST rotate the frame in order to move forward in the game.
This is a must-have game in any pirate-themed room, but it’s great in lots of other applications as well. You place a very tiny script somewhere on the ceiling or outside somewhere and players have to find a pair of binoculars in order to read it. Don’t forget to give them hint though, as it’s pretty hard to spot a miniscule bit of text if you’re not looking for it. We normally drive a pin point light onto it to show it off.
This is a great way to hide any small object in a room. The inner cylinder is carved with the maze, and the outer cylinder is fitted with a small knob that prevents the inner cylinder from being removed unless you play the game.
All of these tricks are pretty simple and straightforward. But they offer players a chance to win, a chance to conquer, a chance to beat the game. So give them every chance to exercise those lesser used “muscles”.