Each escape game is a carefully crafted work of art. A walkthrough is essential to the complete game experience.
What’s a walkthrough?
During a walkthrough, a staff member explains the flow of the room to the team that just finished their hour in a room.
This process includes the solutions to specific puzzles. But more importantly, it explains where players were meant to start, what clues came from where and how they flowed together. It demonstrates how the game told its story.
It’s also an opportunity to let the players ask questions.
This speech should be delivered with energy and passion. Every time.
The individual experience
Players rarely experience the full escape game.
Each individual player feels the arc of the story, but focuses on specific puzzle elements. Consequently each player has a different experience over the course of the hour. While one player solves one game element, other players experience something completely unrelated.
The walkthrough needs to help the players fill in the gaps, and let them celebrate their individual moments of triumph.
Teams that fail
When delivering a walkthrough to a team that failed, it must be more than an explanation of the puzzles that the team didn’t complete.
That’s what most teams will ask for, but they need the full picture.
Staff should be trained to fulfill this request instead with a complete walkthrough of the design of the room. This allows players to understand what the designer intended them to experience.
The walkthrough should not make the players feel bad for losing (unless they are sore losers… and there’s nothing you can do about that).
Teams that win
The walkthrough is still essential if the team wins.
The teams may accidentally circumvent aspects of the game, occasionally by sheer luck, even in well designed rooms. If that’s the case, they should at the very least learn about the puzzle they bypassed.
Individual players will miss seeing game elements that other players solve. Many will be interested to know of their teammates’ brilliance. This is especially important if they won with a record breaking time (or another similarly fast escape). The faster a team wins, the more likely individual players solve puzzles completely on their own.
Non Security risk
A walkthrough is not a security risk.
The players have already engaged with your puzzles. They could already ruin the experience for other players. If that were going to happen, it would be inevitable with or without the walkthrough.
Err on the side of good customer service. If you can’t trust your customers, then room escapes are the wrong line of work for you.