What makes an Escape Room challenging? (Part 1)


January 2020

Have you ever wondered what makes an escape room so difficult? You never really think about it in the heat of the moment because - let’s be real - the 60 minute pressure makes it tough enough to complete.⏳ With escape rooms becoming more and more popular within the entertainment/gaming world, many escape room enthusiasts are emerging within these communities and are on the hunt for challenging rooms.

So, what makes a room challenging? I’ve played over 30 escape rooms, which (I think) warrants me at least an amateur escape room enthusiast title. I’ve played at different escape room companies with varying difficulties, themes, and puzzles and have put together a couple of factors that can make an escape room challenging. These factors can be broken into two subcategories: design attributes and game formats. We’ll go over a few design attributes that make a room difficult in this blog.

The volume of puzzles vs. amount of time ⚖️

This may seem like an obvious one, but the more there is to solve within a finite amount of time, the more on the ball your escape team will need to be at rapidly solving each puzzle. Suggestion: Divide and conquer! But make sure to keep communication open because you never know if you reveal the answer to someone else’s puzzle/clue!

Time Machine
Clue Delivery 🕵️

Some clues are visible, and some are hidden in plain sight and rarely found without a hint from a game master - make sure you check and double-check the most obvious places! Some clues aren’t meant to be solved immediately, and others need a combination of clues to be solved. For example, in our Time Machine episode, you will need at least a group of 4 to escape because you begin in four different rooms. You and your group are encouraged to exchange clues to help each other solve certain puzzles to escape your specific era and travel to the future with your team to escape!

Perceptual Puzzles 🧩

In my experience, the more puzzles that rely on human perception, the more complicated an escape room tends to be. It takes a significantly creative mind to quickly pick up on clues that are based on just the human senses. Knowing this, the more minds you have helping you escape, the more different perspectives you have to solve a puzzle! So remember to hit up your escape crew and plan your next escape!

Now that I hit on the design attributes of what makes an escape room challenging, stick around to see the different types of formats that I’ve encountered that made it tough to escape!

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