How to Solve a Puzzle

Writing a blog about escape room games means that you're likely to cover a lot of related subjects. But perhaps we have been overlooking the basics. The simple questions that should be answered before looking for the more complex subject matter. And one of those is how to solve a puzzle? So let's go back and start at the beginning.

What Exactly Is A Puzzle

Well, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a puzzle is "something that puzzles." Well...duh! Or "a question, problem or contrivance designed for testing ingenuity." OK...that sounds more like it! As you play in an escape room, you're going to be coming face to face with a lot of different puzzles that will require the use of those little grey cells between your ears. That's the beauty of rain food, it makes connections between different parts of the brain which might never have spoken with each other before.


It may seem obvious to the majority of people that the first thing you should be doing on entering an escape room is to search. And yet you'd be surprised as to how many players don't appear to bother. By default, the clues are scattered all over the place. The payers need to take their time finding and then collating their finds. Without being thorough, there's no way you'll find all the necessary pieces of every puzzle to move forwards. Missing just one missing item can mean the difference between completing the game or utter failure. We always recommend putting anything that looks like a clue to one side in a designated "clue collecting area." That'll save huge amounts of time. Also, it makes working on solutions much easier, as everyone can communicate with each other directly with the clues at hand.  

One important point we should make, and that's knowing the clues from the set dressing. On the whole, the sets will be dressed in such a manner that leaves the clues you're searching for, to be able to "stand out" on their own. This can often be achieved by using colors, to ensure that an item stands out from the rest. On another related point, if something doesn't move, then that's also by design, so please don't try and move things that are screwed down. One other word of advice. Don't leave a messy room behind. You might need to go back during the game to find a previously used item. And there's nothing quite as frustrating as having the whole team waiting as you desperately look for an item you previously had in your hands. 


First, collect the clues. Then organize them. Look for a correlation between objects and items. Some commonality that draws them together into their different groups. Here's where common sense should come into play. On the whole, if the connection you've made is tortuous, then it's probably wrong. Make sure that you involve the whole team at this early stage. The later stages of the game will be hugely influenced by how well you connect up the items in the early stages of gameplay. So really pay attention at this point.   

One thing to keep in mind if you're playing for the first time, and that's to remember that all sorts of people pass through these rooms. All are looking at the same clues. Now, there are often some customers who don't speak English or maybe more familiar with certain puzzles. So as an escape room business, we're trying to cater to everyone. That's why you shouldn't overthink it. We're unlikely to use a clue that so obscure that all the team layers will be shaking their heads.


Now you have your clues in some sort of order, it's time to find out where they fit in the larger picture. it's one thing to have a code. but it's useless without somewhere to input said code. If the solution is a five-figure number, then you'll all need to search for a place where you can put those five figures to use. This works both ways. If you happen to find a lock that requires 10 digits, then you need to discover a clue with a 10 digit solution. The bottom line is to know what you're looking for and let that be your guide. 


Finally, we're at the stage of actually solving the puzzles. The part where we get to see if our solutions work in practice. First things first, be sure that everything that needs to line up, actually does line up. The number of times we've had teas unable to open a simple tumbler lock because they were not checking carefully to see that the tumblers were lined up. Being in a hurry is one thing, but not being thorough is unacceptable. So be sure to check and then double-check before saying that the solution is not working. If you believe that the code is perfect, then it'll open the door with minimal force. Please do ensure that the numbers on the physical lock are properly aligned. If you're using an electric keypad remember to hit the "enter" key before trying to open it. 

Before you started your escape room game, the game aster went around the rooms making sure that all the clues and puzzles were re-set properly. He has a check-list and ensures that he checks and double-checks everything. The reason for this is that just one missing clue or puzzle could ruin the game for a team of paying players. It would be a waste of everyone's time and effort. And that's why, we're pretty sure that if a lock doesn't open, then the chances are that you have the wrong code, or you put it in wrongly. Ask another team member to double-check your work. Better safe than sorry!