Between all of us at Countdown, we’ve done well over a dozen escape rooms. After you’ve done a few, you definitely start to notice the the things that work and the things that work...not so much. Here is what we believe to be the important things to make an entertaining escape room.
One of the selling points of an escape room is that you’re going to be playing in a heavily-themed, interactive environment. Keyword: themed. For example, if your room’s theme is a jungle, what do you expect to see? Lots of plants, leaves, perhaps some sounds of animals and dimly-lit paths from tree canopies. Let’s say instead you come into the room and it’s painted green, a few plastic vines taped
from wall to wall, and a sad potted plant in the corner. The image I’ve just painted probably brings a laugh, but sorry to say, it’s been spotted before. Too often the imagination put into a room seems to lack, instead they throw up a few cheap decorations to fulfill the quota of the theme. What happens when the customer leaves? They feel unimpressed, wishing for more than what you’ve just presented.
This is a vital piece to the final guest experience, anywhere you spend your time (and money). As soon as you walk into a business, you want to be greeted warmly with a smile and for the employee to take an interest in you and the time you are giving them. Instead, often you’ll see the other end of the spectrum. A tired, grumpy employee who could care-less about your business, doesn’t give you the time of day, and rushes you through the entire experience. When you leave, you haven’t had a great time and probably leave angry or extremely disappointed. You feel there’s something missing, and that something is a connection between them the host and you the guest.
How do all of your clues fit together to help with the flow of the game? Do the puzzles flow together as well? Are you stuck wandering around with nothing to do for long periods of time because you have no idea where a clue is leading you? A good escape room will have you solving puzzles in a relatively quick succession, feeling like all the pieces are clicking into place quite nicely. Whereas another escape room’s puzzle progression might leave you feeling confused, frustrated, and lost. Part of a fun escape room experience depends upon the puzzles, the kind that make you likely to talk about positively, like “This puzzle was so fun! I want more puzzles like this!” instead of, “I hated this puzzle. It was stupid and made no sense at all.”
Overall, a good escape room experience should leave you satisfied and willing to go back and try another room again, even if you lost.