18 More Mind-Bending Escape Room Puzzles and Clues
Welcome to 18 more mind-bending escape room puzzles and clues! Our first 18 puzzles to get your creativity flowing were wonderful, but we have some more puzzle ideas we would like to share with the world. Give us a shout-out if we inspired you in any way! Add in any puzzles or variation of the ones listed in the comments and you might just inspire something great, too!
Books are great hiding places because they rarely look conspicuous. Add about 10 or more books to your escape game. You make 1 of the books hollowed out and set them up among various decorations. You can decide what you want to put inside. It is a fun challenge for anyone to discover these secret books! Best of all this is a great interactive puzzle that isn’t insanely difficult to solve. This one is really easy and fun to create, too!
Consider paring this one with the next puzzle for an added level/challenge.
Not so Normal Objects
Ah yes, a trick of the eye. You can buy these pretty much anywhere and they are very affordable. You can add this object to any game design to hide a crucial clue in. Plus: this puzzle is insanely easy to recreate. You can even make this at home out of an old can. Here’s a how-to by Instructables!
You will see versions of these not-so-normal-looking objects in soda cans, shaving cream bottles, water bottles, and countless others all disguised to look real and feel heavy enough to fool someone who is in a quick search. People have been using this hideaway cans for years and they make a great escape room puzzles that really make a crowd go “Oooooh!”.
Maps or Guides your Players Can Follow
This escape room puzzle takes the whole team building aspect of escape rooms to a whole new level. I say that because this puzzle type require multiple players for you to achieve it in a timely fashion.
You can have an escape room set up with various displays of clues and objects that each give you a single code. The players will need to view the map of the room in order to see what order your digits will go in.
For example, let’s say you have an escape room with dozens of numbers hanging all over the walls and a map of the room with 4 differently colored X’s. Your players will need to orientate themselves using the map to find what number in the room each of the X’s fall on. From there you can do a coloring matching puzzle to help them get the order of the numbers they located with the map (#11 on 18 Mind-Bending Puzzles and Clues). This is by no means the only way to do a puzzle like this, I encourage you to read all of the puzzles ideas to give you more original ideas on how to do this type of puzzle.
Another idea is to make an outdoor escape room in which your players have to follow a real map. Treasure hunt escape game, anyone? See #10!
Spin, Rotate, or Wind Up
It sounds way simpler than it is… There are too many variations of this puzzle type to list here, but just to give a few:
- Helm, or Wheel of Ship
- Water Spout or Pressure Valve
- Kid’s Toys
All of these things can look insanely cool in an escape room, especially given an antique look. Once the players spin or wind up the object, a key or a clue is released and the game goes on! It is up to the player to discover that this twisty object is a part of the game. This one takes a little bit of tech know-how, but with a little creativity and ingenuity, is possible to recreate this one at home. Keep track of our posts! One of our upcoming posts is a how-to on making your own at home.
Everyone has a computer or phone these days, so anyone can easily recreate this puzzle. Temporarily change your computer passcode and name to something that suits your game’s theme, and then get creative on where to hide your passcode. You can also do this on your phone! What’s on the computer once they unlock it? Cyphers, important information, access to Google, symbols, a picture, the next code… that is why escape rooms are awesome, the possibilities are endless! I got a great piece of advice from a game designer once to keep from overwhelming yourself while designing… “Start at the end of the game and design backward.”.
Consider this: Set up a password hint to be your clue for the code. You can do a riddle, or something that will nudge them to the direction of where to find the passcode.
Straight Up Hidden Objects
I am not going to candy-coat this one. Take that key, and tape it under the table. Boom. Take that key, place it on a high shelf. Bam. Take that key, put in in the potted plant. Wa-pow. Can’t escape this!
Take one of your players to the side before the game begins! Be very nonchalant as to not raise suspicion from the other players. Get ready, because this one is going to throw your players for a giant loop! Not to mention the chosen one will love feeling special (great feelings = a great game!).
Now that you have the player by themselves, share with them a key piece of information. Now that your special player knows the secret code or combo, tell them they CANNOT, no matter what, share the information they have until they get someone in the room to say a specific phrase without repeating the phrase and without giving away the fact that they add information. Stick to the theme of your game, or just plain make it silly.
Try something like this: each player in the room must say the word “ZOMBIE”, “OPEN SESAME”, or something of the sort before the chosen one can reveal the code. This is insanely entertaining and hilarious to add into your escape game.
Locked diaries have always had a creepy vibe to them. What is so important that you need a key to read it? Anyways, like the hollowed books, this clue rarely looks conspicuous and is easy to hide amongst standard room decorations. This can be a great addition to different horror-themed rooms as well as investigation-themed rooms.
You can pair this with the previous puzzle by making the locked book hollow as to hide something solid, or simply write an important clue or code inside the journal:
- A journal entry that is a clue
- Various dated journal entries meant to be ordered
- A hollowed out book containing an object such as
- A key
- A blacklight
- A scroll
- Another locked diary 😮
- RFID sensor on a random object
- A code
- Nothing at all (red herring!)
“X” Marks the Spot
Pirate themed rooms stop here! You just found the perfect addition to your pirate-y escape room. This puzzle makes a great last puzzle or ultimate goal of the mission (i.e. the mission of your game can be to find Black Beard’s treasure). Consider having your players trek their way through the game assembling a treasure map along the way.
Have an outdoor escape room? It may take some elbow grease, but you can literally bury an item underground for them to dig up once they piece together the map. Once their map is assembled, they have the rights steps to lead them to the treasure. Follow the steps and, voila! Include a shovel with the game as a way of saying:
“Arrrg you’re going to need to dig something up, maties.”
Everyone wants the chance to be a real-life detective, solving crimes, beating up bad guys and all. The magic of escape games is it gives anybody a chance to be someone else!
Give this opportunity to your players. Slip some identification into a wallet in a locked desk drawer, or in the pocket of a coat hung on a rack. It will be the players’ job to find out the birthday on the I.D. is the code to unlock that computer or briefcase.
This clue ads a level of finesse and class to your game. With this one, you aren’t clearly giving away code. Unsurprisingly, it takes great attention to detail and sleuth for your players to uncover the code from simply a few well-placed symbols. As a result, it is a very rewarding feeling for players when they uncover this mystery.
- Choose a symbol that means something, and meticulously display this symbol in 3-4 places around the escape room. You want them to be noticeable, but not obnoxiously noticeable.
- Add a book for your players to do research on the symbol in case they are unfamiliar with the symbol you have chosen
- Make the name or meaning of the symbol the answer to a lock or a clue on escaping
The best part of this is you can get historically accurate with this one to completely take your players on a blast to the past.
It’s in the Details
Some well-placed photographs are a total crowd pleaser. The pictures around the room are the first thing people start searching when they enter an escape game. Why not add in a juicy detail for them to discover? After all, the names of someone’s dog is very important to them. Important enough to be a computer password? Quite possibly!
This puzzle type is a great challenge. How able are your players to think outside of the box?
In an escape room, players may be tasked with calling or texting a specific number! Figuring out to do this can be a doozy at times, but once you do, nothing is more satisfying.
Have your players text a codeword to a specific number. When they send the right codeword, they get the code! You can do this one with your own cellphone number.
Have your players call a number. For at home escape rooms, have them call you and be ready with a message to tell them. For real-deal, take-your-money escape rooms, you can set up a prerecorded line set to answer the phone and replay a significant message.
A tangram is a type of puzzle. You have most likely seen these in school as a child. Tangrams consist of multiple pieces of varying size and shape that don’t seem like they would link up, but can be assembled to make a perfect shape. This is more challenging than a standard jigsaw puzzle and adds a great deal of interaction with the escape room (given players need to find the tangram pieces around the room before assembling). Give your players a base to assemble the pieces on so that they have a guide on what shape to construct with their pieces. Once your pieces are assembled correctly, players will be able to read the code that is written on top.
These puzzles are one of my favorites! Unfortunately, they can be a little messy – but well worth the effort! Not to mention the wow factor on this one is always 10/10.
- Take a bucket or pail and paint your code on the inside bottom of the bucket (waterproof it!)
- Fill that bucket with colored water (match the color of the water to the color of your text)
- Give your players a clue that they need to drain the water, and an object to scoop water with (and something to scoop water into if you are indoors)
- When the water is low enough, they can see the code!
RFID readers can add a mystical (or technological, depending on the era) element to your escape room and really bring things to the next level. RFID readers can release a magnet when you place an object with a particular weight onto the sensors. These are perfect for escape rooms where your players have to find a particular object to win (i.e. find the holy grail). Once they find the “holy grail”, they can place it on an RFID sensor to release the final lock on the exit door.
Like many of the inspiration on this post, there are a lot of ways you can make this puzzle.
One other idea involving weight is to make a simple equation with different symbols leading to questions marks (i.e. 👢+🐕=? &👢+🐕+🐕=?). Provide your players with a scale. They can then weigh out the items in the room that match the pictures and use the weights to fill in the blanks on the equation. Let’s say they weigh the objects and find out👢+🐕=12oz &👢+🐕+🐕= 18oz. The code you get from this puzzle would be 1218.
Nonsense to be Folded
Take this jumbled up piece of paper and follow instructions on folding it into a crane. Voila! Those random symbols make a code.
To recreate this one, take a piece of origami paper and fold it into the shape of your choosing. Now, simply write your code on your folded object so that when it is unfolded, it seems indecipherable.
Ah yes, we have another mind-bending escape room puzzle idea that will keep your players on their toes. Depending on the theme of your room and your access to construction, you can see or include this shelf in an escape game. It will be up to the players to find out that there is something strange about this floating shelf! Check out this article by Rogue Engineer explaining how you can remake this shelf at home.