What to Do When You’re Stuck in an Escape Room

2021.07.28.

As with all things in life, when things are going well then you feel invincible. This holds true when playing an escape room game. You and your team are steaming ahead, solving all the clues and working out the solutions to all the puzzles in super quick time, and the game is progressing very well against the approaching time limit. And then suddenly, without warning, you are unable to solve any of the new clues that face you and your team. 

Yes, at some time, we will all suffer that fate and also in the consequences of it. It begins with the feeling you have not understood the clues in front of you. And so go over them again, but without result. So now you find yourselves pulling on open locks looking at your teammates as you try to guess what to do next, and staring at the clock as it counts down the minutes towards your eventual failure . You may find yourself going back and forth to previous clues but they are of no help. Now your doubts will lead to discouragement, and suddenly, no one is having a good time anymore.

If you are a regular player of escape room games, then you already know that everybody gets stuck at some point. After all, nearly all the clues and puzzles you're faced with will be new and will require a different way of thinking in order to solve them. Nevertheless, there are some principles which hold true when it comes to dealing with puzzles and riddles that appear to be unsolvable. To some degree, it's not about solving every clue you're faced with, but about solving the one that will help you and the team get back on track. 

Teamwork Works

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's important to share the burden, and not be afraid of admitting that one puzzle has defeated you. Many players will say nothing and just move on to the next clue, leaving the previous one undone, because they are afraid they will look silly or stupid for being unable to complete that particular clue. But remember that you are part of a team, and therefore you should always look to teamwork as a means of solving any problems that affect any single member, including you. 

Keep in mind that everyone has a different way of looking at a problem, and by sharing it throughout your team, you'll find that special team member who can provide a fresh pair of eyes. You might be surprised just how many “Eureka moments” have come about simply because a new player looks at the problem from a completely new angle. When you find yourself stuck on a particular problem, it's a good idea to switch places with another player to provide a new impetus and point of view. 

At the end of the day, the team is only as strong as its powers of communication between all the members. If a single member fails to communicate an unfinished problem, then that will later affect all members of the team as they are unable to move forward in the gameplay. So when you find yourself stuck, then don't hesitate to call out to whoever might be free to lend you a helping hand. Also there may well be a number of puzzles and riddles that actually require two people to solve them. So though we might like to be independent in our escape room game’s approach to problem solving, when you're playing an escape room game with a team, then learn to lean on them.

Search The Room Again

When you're a regular player of escape room games, then you'll know it's a given that you should search absolutely every single corner of the room and everything between. Having said that, it is often easy to miss something or fail to recognise a clue or puzzle that is hiding in plain sight. Also, in the excitement of the first search of the room, you are going to find many new things and the chances of catching them all are limited. That's why if you get stuck with a particular puzzle or clue, it's important that you retrace your steps, and take a good look at all the puzzles you previously solved, in case there's a connection between these and your present problem puzzle.

With today's escape room clues becoming more and more sophisticated as time passes, it's no surprise that many players will miss certain rather obscure and hidden clues. These days, secret codes are hidden in just about everything and often it's only after stepping back that you can see those codes hidden in plain sight or in more obscure places. Of course, there are colours, shapes, words, numbers, and all sorts of other signs and symbols which may be important in the construction of clues and puzzles. Your job as a team is to pay special attention to even the minutest detail.

Take A Break From A Difficult Puzzle

The more time you spend trying to decipher something that is in reality a mental block for you, then the more the level of stress will rise. On the one hand, being able to find the solution to an intricate code or solve a particularly difficult problem is a huge rush of dopamine. But a dark cloud of depression can fall onto a player who's struggling with a deceptively simple problem. If you find yourself flummoxed by a puzzle or riddle for more than a couple of minutes, then we suggest you walk away and take a break. This will stop you from being frustrated, as it's both stress and frustration will cloud your vision and make it even more difficult for you to find a solution. 

Keep in mind that all the puzzles in escape rooms are not designed to be easy. They are, in fact, designed to give you a difficult time. But that doesn't mean they are not solvable. We suggest you go and help someone in your team with the puzzle they are working with. Once that's solved, then return to your problem puzzle. You will feel unconsciously bouyed up by the previous victory, and this should help you find a different angle point for you to view this new problem. 

Review Your Unused Clues

As you play through your escape room it's important that all members of the team put all the clues in one place, so that everyone has easy access to them. You never know because some of them could prove useful later on in the game. We suggest that you lay out all the clues so everyone can see them, or at least recite them to other members of your team, which will help keep them in the team’s collective memory. Also keep in mind that the clues you already have might not actually be the right ones for upcoming puzzles. In escape room games you have to think both logically and contrarily. 

Revisit The Story Line

In all escape room games, it's the narrative that drives the game forwards. At the very beginning, when the game master is painfully explaining down to the tiniest detail, the story you all will be part of, please make sure that everyone is paying 100% attention. You'll be surprised how many players miss basic clues that are directly correlated to the narrative of the game they're playing, simply because they were not listening properly. If you're stuck, then we suggest you think back to what the game master told you before you actually started playing. Don't just think about the story, but also about the characters, the location and the era it is set in. Think about the specific events that occur in the storyline and whether they relate to your situation

More often than not, the overarching narrative will contain clues to several puzzles or clues. It's these tiny key details that you need to keep in mind as they may well solve a puzzle that will lead to your eventual victory. So whenever you're stuck, try to think back to the details contained within the story you heard right at the beginning of your journey.

Ask For A Clue

In spite of how some hardened escape room veterans like to play, there is actually no shame in asking your game master for a hint. Of course, everyone likes to beat an escape room game on their own without needing the intervention of outside help. But keep in mind he's there watching over you to ensure that you have a great experience. Being super stressed out by an essential answer is not going to make you a happy bunny. With the clock counting down your time, why not simply ask the game master to help you out. Believe us when we say it doesn't detract from the eventual victory. 

Some puzzles are just so damn cheeky and difficult, that within the time factor it's impossible to make head or tail of them, let alone guess the answer. Remember, if you ask for a hint, the games master is not going to tell you the answer. That would steal the wind from your sails. What he is going to do is help you get back into the saddle and send you off in the right direction. One important consideration is that if you do decide to ask the games master for help, then you do so as a team. We suggest you have a quick team meeting and take a vote before anyone of you makes a decision on their own, before all team members have had a chance to examine the problem puzzle.

Stay Positive

Always keep in mind that you've booked the escape room and paid good money to have a good time. First and foremost, the experience should be fun both whilst you're playing it and when the experience is over. When you find yourself stuck, then think back to how well you have already done to get as far as you have. We suggest that you all act as a team and offer support to each other at all times. This includes encouragement and practical help. That's because you'll be surprised how quickly one team member's bad mojo can affect all the other players in the same room. To that end, it's super important that you all try hard to keep the atmosphere positive, and by doing so, you will be able to re-energize any team members who are feeling a little down because they are stuck. 

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