Create a Brilliant Escape Room Without Needing to be Scrooge McDuck
Updated: Jan 22
We’ve been through 382 escape rooms now and have seen A LOT of different styles of escape rooms. Some rooms had a Hollywood budget and were AMAZING experiences. Some had a Hollywood budget and were disappointing and sometimes even maddening. Pouring tens of thousands of dollars into your escape room in and of itself isn’t going to make it great and making an escape room on a budget doesn’t mean it can’t be incredible.
Stick to a realistic theme
Unless you have pro bono carpentry skills at your disposal, it’s going to be pretty tough to create an out-of-this-world set that doesn't look like the set of a second grade play. Especially when you think about wear and tear and replacing objects. So pick a place in this world that you can recreate more easily because those items already exist without having to get custom work done.
Come up with a Smart, unique story
You need something to make you standout especially if your set is a living room, bedroom, office, etc. What’s your hook? One reason people go to escape rooms is to ~escape~ reality. If your set is realistic then your story should be something they wouldn’t be doing in everyday life. i.e.: "Welcome to The Living Room. You’ve lost your keys and have one hour to find them and leave for work” sounds terrible right?
Pick the quality of your pieces based on story
Is your game set in a drug lord’s living room? Maybe it’s ok for the couch to be ripped up. In grandma’s living room? That couch should probably look vintage and like it’s been sat on very very gingerly, a plastic cover wouldn’t hurt.
Optional: Create a believable twist ending
End your story with something the player was not expecting. Surprise is one of those emotions that releases feel-good chemicals into your brain. End your escape room with a well thought through surprise ending and you’ll have a game with a ton of word-of-mouth power.
If you’re ever in Racine
Audrey’s Addiction at Seven Keys to Escape in Racine, WI was the inspiration for this blog post. We left Seven Keys and I just kept thinking: THAT, that is how you make a quality set without promising your first born to Rumpelstiltskin. They hit every point on the list above (even the twist ending).