This is a very common question. The idea that you find yourself locked in a small, semi-dark room, battling against a time limit in order to escape. Add to the fact that many escape rooms have an interesting, and often slightly creepy backstory, as well as themes including murder and horror. Knowing all of this, then it's no surprise that having a slight fear of playing an escape room game is common and perfectly understandable. 

Of course knowing what to expect it's going to take the sting from the tail. So let's have a look at what escape rooms are exactly. And whether there's really anything to worry about, or be afraid of, if you're going to play.

What are Escape Rooms?

Essentially, an escape room game is an adventure game driven forwards by solving puzzles and clues. On whole, every escape room game will involve the following:

A Backstory or Narrative:  All escape rooms have a theme and, in order to bring life to them, there will be a story as to why and how you find yourself within this space. These can include such things as a deserted island, a crime scene, a mental institution, in fact  the list is as endless as the designer's imagination.
Puzzles: For the narrative to proceed you will need to discover puzzles and clues. Only by solving these will you be able to move forward to your eventual goal of escaping. 
A Countdown Clock: All games are played against a clock which is counting down the time. This imparts a sense of urgency to the whole proceedings and makes things much more exciting. Having a time limit certainly concentrates the mind.

The Puzzles

The nature and level of puzzles depends very much on the type of game you're playing. Also you'll find puzzles and clues will change from room to room. These can include such things as word puzzles, physical puzzles, and mathematical puzzles. Some will be hidden away and others will be hiding in plain sight. Most decent escape room games will have their puzzles follow in a sequential order. This is a great means of keeping the player immersed and engaged throughout the whole game.

What is the Time Limit?

The time limit to each game is an essential element of the whole escape rooms genre. It may depend very much on the type and difficulty of the room being played. The vast majority of escape room games will have a time limit of around 1 hour. Having a time limit certainly makes a great focal point as it encourages the team of players to work together and communicate properly. 

The Number of Players

Though technically you could play an escape room game on your own, part and parcel of the whole experience is playing with a group of others. Because puzzles and clues are normally spread out over the whole room then it's a much better and faster solution to work together as a team. All escape room games are actually designed as group activities. Normally this means more than two people. On the whole, we don't recommend playing with more than 8 to 10 people in a game. Being with a group of friends means to say that it's almost impossible for the escape room to be scary as you are never alone.

Are Escape Rooms Scary?

You'll find many escape rooms happily embracing the horror theme. Whether trapped in a haunted house or escaping a zombie apocalypse, there are plenty of opportunities for terror. Yet in spite of this, we have never come across any escape room game with a horror theme that has been anything less than great fun. That's because the primary design of the game is for people to enjoy themselves, not be terrified. 

Are You Actually Locked Up?

This is probably one of the most common misconceptions about escape room games. The idea that the games owner actually physically locks you in a darkened room. The whole point of being locked in, is to create an illusion and make the game more immersive and maybe even more stressful. But you can't legally lock someone in a room. Now if you become nervous when playing an escape room game, you will already have been informed before starting it how to make yourself known to the game master, as well as where the built-in exits are. Just be aware that if you do leave the game whilst it's in play, you will not be allowed back in. Obviously this is to stop cheating. Just keeping in mind that, as we previously mentioned, the game is not designed to frighten you.

Suppose You Lose?

We love the idea that should you lose you remain locked in the room. All that there is some sort of punishment or shaming that comes from being unable to complete the game within the allotted time. We're sorry to tell you, but there are no consequences for losing. In fact, many of the more difficult games will see up to 70% of players being able to complete the game before the time runs out. Of course, it can be a little disappointing not to have been able to emerge victorious. But the game is designed to be fun. And whether you win or lose is almost of secondary importance. The fact that you and your friends have passed an hour of great fun and immersive gameplay should be enough for the money and the memories.

If You Cannot Solve the Puzzle?

You'll find puzzles in escape rooms that cater for everything from the logical mind to the creative thinker. There's a very good chance that as an individual, you will not be able to solve some of the puzzles. Also, you should consider your level of education, as you may find some clues need an understanding of a particular set of knowledge. If you don't have that, then you don't get to solve that particular clue. This is another reason why escape room games work best with a group of players as each individual can help fill in any missing gaps in the different thought processes. 

We always suggest that before you book an escape room game, you give them a ring. Ask in particular about the different levels available. As escape rooms are a business, often with a fixed number of rooms, they will be looking to cater for the demographic that will bring them the maximum return per hour. Many times this means that a lot of the games will be for families. Games with children are going to be too easy for the majority of adult players. So you should be asking for intermediate or advanced level games.