The basic setup for any escape room is this: You enter the room, you find clues, you solve puzzles and work towards either escape from the room, or finding the solution to the situation you’ve been placed in. It’s a simple enough concept, but it’s not uncommon to get into a room and suddenly feel very overwhelmed. You have limited time, you have no idea what to do, and there are things EVERYWHERE.
The first thing to do is take a moment to observe your surroundings. What’s in the room? Is there anything that immediately sticks out as strange or noteworthy? Do you see any obvious puzzles? After your initial observation, look closely around the room. Check all items you find for clues and puzzles.
Something we at Hour to Midnight always recommend to people when they come in to play is to have a discard pile, somewhere to place all the items you know you are done with. In almost every escape room items should only be used once, if you’re unsure about this you can always ask the game operator before you go into the room.
Along with a Discard pile, we also recommend having a “Still working on it,” pile. An area to keep the items you still need to use and aren’t sure what to do with yet. Keep an eye on this pile, as you uncover new puzzles and work further through the room, the items in it have a good chance of becoming relevant.
At some point or another, you’re going to get stuck. You’ll have solved everything that you can solve, none of the clues you have seem to go with anything, you must be missing something but you have no idea what! At this point, search the room again. Sometimes things can be hidden in out of the way places, the one item you need could be tucked away just out of sight. If you still can’t find what you need, reassess the items you do have. Have you tried using something in a different way? You may need to think outside the box on some things.
Last thing to keep in mind is hints. If hints are available, it's okay to ask for help when you’re really stuck. The game operator wants you to succeed, and hints are there for you to use.
Keep these tips in mind when you play your first escape room and you’ll be set for success!