We here at Exit Strategy Games in Elk Grove, CA, have played well over 100 (yeah you read that right!) escape rooms and we find that you can narrow the types of escape rooms that you’ll find down into five groups. So, here they are, listed in order of, uh, one through five:
LINEAR ESCAPE ROOMS
A linear escape room game is one in which you have to solve one puzzle before you can move forward to solve the next puzzle. All of the puzzles go in a specific sequence.
In my experience, this is one of the most common escape room games that you’ll play. This is perfect for first time game players and people who really want to enjoy the escape room challenge without being totally and utterly confused.
The great thing about these rooms is that they are usually fairly organized. The player usually can see where the gamemaster is trying to take them.
The bad part is that these games are rarely good for large groups. Usually only 1-2 people can open a lock at a time or solve a puzzle. So while everyone can contribute, there can be a lot of time spent with players having nothing to do.
NON-LINEAR ESCAPE ROOM
I’m sure you can guess by the title, but in case you can’t, I’m here to help: a non-linear escape room usually has multiple puzzles that everyone is solving at one time. They often come together at the very end of the game to form one large, game-ending puzzle.
This room is great for experienced players and large groups. Usually everyone has something to do and the players are challenged on their organizational skills, communication and pure puzzle solving prowess.
The downside is that these puzzles can be extremely confusing, especially if done wrong. If the players can’t see the big picture then people are solving half puzzles without understanding where or why ,athe gamemaster often has to give multiple hints which ruins the game.
So I recommend not trying these until you have escaped a few times!
MIXED LINEAR AND NON-LINEAR
Right, right, right, I know you are smart and know what this one is too. But I have a blog to write so we’ll just spell it out for you: Linear and Non-Liner escape rooms are a mix.
These rooms tend to have one bottle neck puzzle that reveals several smaller puzzles that all get solved to solve one bigger puzzle, that then will produce another set of smaller often easier puzzles and so on and so forth until the game is won.
This way you still have big overarching linear puzzles to solve in sequence, but several smaller puzzles that can be divided up among the team members to do along the way.
This is my favorite type and is perfect for all group sizes. They are often well organized, give all players something to do, yet have a clear sequence and order to them.
Named after the red-headed foil kid from A Pup Named Scooby-Do (why did they never realize it was never him, though?) this room can technically be linear, non-linear, or mix.
However, the key component in this room is that it is full of, you guessed it, smarty pants! Red herrings!
Players must really work through all elements of the room to figure out what is or is not part of the game. That clock on the wall with that symbol, yup, it does NOTHING. That bookshelf that looks like it moves. Nothing. The regular No. 2 pencil sitting on the desk, that’s an intricate hidden key of some sort that nobody saw coming. These rooms are my least favorite. I like it to be clear that I’m actually solving a puzzle and not just playing with a prop in the room. Plus, ain’t no Scan-tron in here – ditch that No. 2 pencil, nobody wants to see that.
This room again could technically be linear, non-linear, or mix. However, the key component in this room is that you’re usually not solving puzzles as much as you’re looking for things.
That number written clearly on the wall, that goes to the lock in this drawer. I didn’t have to solve anything, I just had to “find” something.
This lock with 4 symbols on it, I just need to find those symbols, I don’t need to solve anything.
These rooms are interesting and have mixed reviews. Scavenger hunts can be really fund and are a part of most escape room games. But when it’s almost all scavenging, the game gets a little monotonous.