This does not mean breaking shit.
In the context of an escape game, this usually means the act of plugging numbers into a lock until it pops. This is not usually elegant.
Common use in Escape Games
You’ve figured out three numbers in a four digit combo, then spin the final disk a few times until you hear a click.
The reason this trick works is because some games have players derive individual numbers one at a time.
When doesn’t this work?
It works really well when you know all but one digit of a combo because there are only 10 options remaining (assuming that you have a typical number lock).
Depending upon the lock and your ability to manipulate it, brute-force can work with two numbers remaining because there are only 100 possible pairings. It’s not necessarily fun to do, but in a pickle, it will get the job done.
Once you get past two digits, you’re looking at different degrees of why bother?
3 digits = 1,000 number sets
4 digits = 10,000 number sets
5 digits = 100,000 number sets
6 digits = 1,000,000 number sets
The thing about brute-force is that if you have enough time, it always works… But it isn’t fun and you have less than 60 minutes in an escape game.
No brute-force policies
Some companies forbid brute-force of any kind. This is a sign that at least one puzzle in their game is intellectually fragile. They do not believe that their game is tough enough to allow players the freedom to improvise.
No brute-force policies are bad. They are tantamount to saying, “welcome to our game, now turn off your imagination.”
If game designers don’t want brute-force, then they should avoid triple digit locks, and puzzles that make you piece combos together one digit at a time. It’s immanently doable.
We’ve seen some very interesting counter brute-force strategies from smart companies.
I’m not keen on being babysat by a game-master. Take my money, put me in a sturdy, challenging, and fun room, then let me loose to solve the puzzles. Don’t fuss about how I do it.
For more tips
Brute-force is one escape room tactic. For more tips, check out our Player Tips section.