18 Mind-Bending Escape Room Puzzles and Clues
For the Love of Escape Room Puzzles
My name is Viola, and I love escape rooms and all things escape room related! I have been working on this blog this year and I have learned a lot throughout my adventure. The value of the knowledge I have acquired through my research pales in comparison to what I have learned as a game guide while interacting with people solving escape room puzzles.
A couple of very important things I’ve noticed is that there is an algorithm to solving escape room puzzles, and even after solving a million Morse-code puzzles, (for those who have done a ton of escapes..) it never gets old! That may surprise you but, that’s because doing escape rooms is not about the puzzles. Instead, escape rooms are actually so great because of the quality time you spend with your loved ones. The puzzles give that to us!
Hardly anything can compare to being with your loved ones with a common goal and common effort. It gets people together more than anything other activity in a way you would have to experience to understand. Time spent around a dinner table with your loved ones is so valuable, but when you have a common goal and collective effort, time FLIES and you bond on a completely different and indescribable level. You’ll gain loads of memories and tons of hilarious experiences.
More about the Puzzles!
Some logic puzzles are timeless and special. They never fail to spark intrigue and satisfaction instantly. You can bet your bottom that any and all escape rooms will include one or more of these kinds of puzzles. And as obvious as some of the escape room puzzles I am about to tell you about seem, time and time again people overlook them! Even if you notice them right of the bat, some game designers will actually include these puzzle types to kick start the game and get peoples’ minds moving. While in the game, it is crucial to carefully examine every detail in the room and map out all possibilities for the many items you find in a very short period of time.
Especially if this is your first escape room experience, look over my list of common escape room puzzles. Having an idea of what you’re getting yourself into will give you greater odds of success! Even if the escape room puzzles on this list are not directly in the escape room you visit, it can still help to give you an idea of what kind of challenges to expect. These escape room puzzles are not necessarily from only Big Escape Rooms Atlanta/Silver Spring. You can see these puzzles in various escape rooms all around the world. I have experienced them either in our own rooms or in escape rooms by other companies I have visited. And don’t you worry, I am not including any spoilers or exact puzzles for any games. These are all very vague descriptions. Carry on reading to see the sweet sweet escape room puzzle types!
My hope is that after reading this post and viewing the various examples I’ve included will inspire to create something completely original! In your escape room design, you’ve got to be creative… you’ve got to be different. Be as wild as you can!
Oh the connections you can make with this type of puzzle! Often times in escape rooms, you will notice a metal object that you desperately need that is… just out of reach! There are endless variations you can create with this type of puzzles. It could be a wedding ring or a key that fell down the drain, it could be a metal key or file conveniently placed at the bottom of a tube or hole that is just barely too long for your arm. Or it could be a maze on the table with nothing but a metal key inside! One thing is for sure when you approach these types of escape room puzzles… Find the magnet!
Draw or Map Out Numbers
This type is one of the most interactive of escape room puzzles. It will take organization, planning, note-taking and loads of teamwork to complete this one properly. You and your team will acquire a series of points and something to use to connect the points. This could be a something like a marker and a map, or a string and a grid. You will likely find some sort of map to follow to spell out your answer. Follow the directions and connect the dots to spell out a word, or a code for a lock.
This is a common puzzle, though it may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think ‘escape room puzzles’! There are tons of variations to this timeless puzzle type. You may need to find torn up pieces of a message hidden around the room and assemble them, or maybe you need to solve a literal jigsaw puzzle to view a code. Either way, my best piece of advice for this puzzle would be to let the children do this one while you work on more complex puzzle types, and remember that even though it seems unlikely, your game guide can offer you a hint for it!
Take a step back. Squint your eyes a little bit. Turn your head to the side. There, see it now? Keep an eye out for unusual looking paintings and objects… there could be a code or a word hidden in all those weird shapes or shadows. These puzzles are usually custom made but are a fun an easy project if you want to make your own escape room!
Date Locating Puzzles
This one is common in escape room video games and in the real deal! These escape room puzzles require you to notice little details. It is very easy to create a variation of your own. Here is an example of this puzzle type:
Let’s say you are in an escape room where you are investigating a murder and you find these items around the room:
- A briefcase with a label reading “the day she passed away” and a 6 digit lock
- A newspaper article that states “Tragedy strikes community just 2 days after opening night, women loses her life!”
So, go ahead two days after opening night, and there is your code! 10/13/15 = 101315
Puzzles Hidden in Plain Sight
There are tons of dots to connect in an escape room, and noticing even the most obvious of escape rooms puzzles and clues can be quite the fleet! Look for details around the room in CAPS or BOLD LETTERS and closely inspect items that are literally laid out right in front of you. Remember! Nothing is in that room by chance an ANYTHING can be a clue.
In one of our rooms, we hide a type of key right on top of the table you see when you first go in. I have had groups of 12 people overlook this particular item for upwards of 20 minutes! Keep your eyes peeled and don’t overlook the obvious. Sometimes in plain site is the best of all hiding spaces…
This one is another one that is easy to create and is one of the most common of all escape room puzzles. You will find a key and a recording or a written form of the various dots and dashes. You know what to do next! This puzzle gets people excited because they generally will know exactly what to do once they have all of the components and it can be done very well with a few dashes of teamwork… the hard part is deciding who gets to unlock the lock! You will almost certainly encounter this clue in your next escape room adventure.
Look up/Research the Answer
Trust me, it is hidden somewhere in the room. You will see a clue that says “Christopher Columbus’ Birthday”, or “Date of the First Space Launch”, or even “My Daughter’s Name”. Look around the room because the answer is certainly hidden in there somewhere. Either in one of those encyclopedias or maybe it is on the news bulletin or newspaper clippings! As tempting as it may be… DO NOT GOOGLE THE ANSWER! I promise you will find it if you search. Like the others, this is a very simple puzzle that anyone can recreate and personalize to the room theme!
Black Light Clues
Another classic escape room clue. Somewhere along your experience, you may find a black light. If you do shine it EVERYWHERE! And for more precise advice, start by shining it around the locks you have yet to open and the other items you have found. You may see a code written in invisible ink or a quote that nudges you in the right direction. You’ll know what to do next.
Again, this can be a very easy and low-cost clue to recreate.
Clues Hidden Behind Paintings or Pictures
Unless your escape room tells you not to do this, give all of the painting a little tug. There could be something hidden behind it! You could find a code written (perhaps written in invisible ink..?), a safe, a date on the back of the photo, or a cubbyhole containing more clues. The possibilities as to what is hidden back there are endless!
Have fun with it if you plan to recreate this classic clue. A good and low-cost way to do this is to use Velcro! Side note, go to the link below the photo for a step by step how to recreate the picture below!
Color Matching Puzzles
Look carefully for items with colors on them. Be careful because this is another clue game designers tend to hide in plain sight. It can be easy to overlook depending on what the clue looks like. I’ll give an example for this one:
Lets say you are in a generic escape room and you found a box. On top of that box are 4 colored dots: red, green, purple, and yellow in that order.
Take a look around this hypothetical room and you see a giant red 8 statue sitting on the bookshelf, a painting of a giant yellow 2, a purple book with nothing written inside other than the number 4, and a giant green 5 drawn underneath a table. Now all that is left to do is line your numbers up into the correct
Find the Right Order
I have seen these escape room puzzles inside and outside of Big Escape Rooms. Let’s say you find 4 items that correlate to each other. You may need to get those items into a particular order specified by numbers, dates, or words on each individual item (if that doesn’t work flip the order!) … for example:
- You have 4 notebooks with different dates on them – Order them Depending on the dates. i.e. Nov 11, Nov 18, Nov 24, then Nov 30.
- You have 3 cards with different symbols and correlating numbers on them – Order them from least to highest… i.e. 1, 2, 3.
- You have 4 photos of people with names written on them – order them in alphabetical order, Adam, Darrell, Stephen, Warren.
If a room provides you with a magnifying glass, there may be something teeny-tiny hidden around the room. Any clues have a funny riddle about small things or making thing grow? Search the paper or the area around where you found it! There may just be a…little piece of information hidden for you!
Trivia Checkpoint: Take a break and check out this riddle.
Secret doors that mysteriously swing open are some of the most exciting escape room puzzles around. They instantly fill you with awe and amazement as you and your buddies rush over to get the first glimpse at what is hidden inside the mysterious cubbyhole or room! A popular place to hide something like this is behind a painting or a bookshelf. Sometimes it can even be hidden within the panels on the wall! Game designers get very creative with the hidden compartments they create, so keep your eyes peeled!
A bit more technology is required for these escape room puzzles. These spooky secret doors are generally are powered by keypads that release a magnet lock after you touch type in your code or swipe it with a sensor. The sensor could be on a key card or hidden in an item that relates to your story.
Flip the Switch
Light switch clues are so cool to me people go into escape rooms searching for the absurd. They never think to mess with something as standard as the light switch on the wall and rarely assume it to be a part of the game. I know one escape room that starts you off with the lights off and some people literally do not even think to power the lights on and go the whole game struggling to read the clues around the room!
It is a great way to add in an extra challenge by starting it of dark and seeing if they think to power on the lights… also you can use specifically placed lights to illuminate particular clues once the switch has been turned, or maybe the switch powers something as unexpected as one of those spooky secret doors.. The possibilities are endless. One thing is for sure, flip the light switch in that escape room!
These puzzles are very easy to recreate and give you a lot of wiggle room on how your design will work. One possibility could be powering on a flashlight to cast a shadow of a stationary object to guide you to a series of locations or a clue. Or perhaps you will see scrabbled looking shapes coming out of the wall that doesn’t appear to be anything until you shine a light beneath it and create a legible site in the shadow! (See picture)
Have fun with it and get creative. This visual clue wows everyone who manages to solve it!
Details from the Story-Line
Don’t forget, you are not only solving hair-raising puzzles- you have a mission! I love these kinds of puzzles because it makes the whole thing feel more realistic. Designers can sneak these codes right into the story-line. Read up about your mission before you go into the game, and ask your game guide. Pay attention to your game guide while they’re in character (if they get in character) because they may say a crucial detail! If it is not directly a code, it could be a clue. The name of the main character may also hold sufficient value, so listen up!
If the escape room features a video before the game, pay attention! These types of codes can even be hidden within the video. Also, it doesn’t hurt to try the main character’s name in the locks you find. Or maybe you found a birthday card of you ‘kidnappers’, see if their birthday will open their briefcase or hack their computer!
Some people love math, some people don’t compute! Either way, someone in any escape team is bound to be a fan of math problems. It’s so exciting to see a math equation to solve and finally have a real-world use for all that information they taught us in high school! If you do come across a math equation in an escape room, don’t worry because it is most likely basic algebra!
You may come across a puzzle in which you need to find values for the placeholders in an equation: Ex. 👑+🍀-🎱=????. Use the clues in your room to find a value for each of those symbols and then solve the equation to get your code. This is one of the easiest and low-cost escape room puzzles you can create! Much like the other puzzles, there is an endless variations of this puzzle you can create.