Nearly every room escape begins with you entering a mundane room; often an office of some sort. The only remarkable feature is usually the unusual volume of locks.
Some of these rooms are comically mundane right down to the minimalistic Ikea dresser and drawer sets that have been modified to mount combination locks.
Now you might think I’m mocking this, but I’m not (necessarily).
With rare exceptions, I wholeheartedly believe that room escapes should have multiple rooms. At least two, but more is better.
In the best room escape games I’ve been in, there are multiple rooms and each subsequent room is exponentially nuttier than the one before it.
There are few things more fun than starting in a laughably boring room, only to find a new room that you weren’t expecting, and it’s only lit by a light bouncing off of a disco ball. As you watch the speckled lights dance along the wall, you realize there are messages scrawled in blood (I made this scenario up, I’m not spoiling any rooms… Please someone make this room).
The best room escapes don’t just offer challenging puzzles. They make you feel like a adventurer, thrust you into a completely bananas movie scene where you’re the star, and the stakes just elevated beyond the reality that we’re typically bound to.
When you design your room, always raise the stakes. You’re not just presenting your players with a challenge, you’re making them experience a story; even if it’s an abstract one.
Room escapes should be escapist.