Whether you’re reading this while in quarantine or not, here are five must-play escape room video games for all you enthusiasts.

9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors

999, as it is familiarly called, is a Visual Novel with Choose Your Own Adventure style decision-making.  Wake up trapped in a ship’s cabin.  Meet more people like you.  And work together (or against each other) to ultimately escape the ship or die trying.

I played through this way back when it was introduced on the Nintendo DS.  And now, I’m playing through it again with the more recently-released bundle (999 and the sequel).  It’s that good.

This game does have adult themes (it would be the equivalent of an R-rated movie).  I mean, if you would take your kids to watch Saw, then I guess this would be ok for them?!  But really, don’t.  Make this the thing you enjoy when the kids are fast asleep.

How is this like an escape room?

The whole premise of being trapped, exploring, and solving clues is EXACTLY what the original setup in most escape rooms are!

Where Can I Purchase?

Steam offers the first two 999 games (999 and Virtue’s Last Reward) as a bundle.  If interested in trying the third game, there’s a bundle for that too.

The Witness

Built by Jonathan Blow, of Braid fame, The Witness has the island-like setting of Myst, but skyrockets the puzzles and discovery aspects through a first-person perspective.

Start inside a bunker and learn how to progress by solving seemingly plain line puzzles.  The puzzles ramp in type and difficulty all throughout.  Although, every area of the island is solvable, players typically gravitate to specific areas in a natural way.

But there’s something more to uncover here – while this is all happening, you’re learning more and more.  And, as you learn more, you’ll start to realize things that you didn’t realize the first time.  And it’s that kind of discovery that if you stick with it, the payoff is grand, really grand.  I was cheering like I just beat level 6 in the original Ninja Gaiden.

Give this game a chance.  Stick with it.  Anything worth doing is worth seeing it through.  This would be a fun family game because the puzzles can be mentally solved by those who do not have the controller.

How is this like an escape room?

The game has a ton of exploration and discovery AND it also presents some traditional puzzles for those fans too.

Where Can I Purchase?

GOG and Steam offer the game for purchase.  Steam also offers a bundle with Braid.

The Room

Imagine a Rubik’s Cube.  Now imagine a Rube Goldberg machine.  Mix the two together and you have The Room – the first of a new genre.

There’s plenty of games where you pick up items, put them together, and analyze things – but none so much as The Room.  Instead of breaking out of a room, the object is, for the most part, to break into something.

Players may examine cabinets, books, and more to solve puzzles, operate mechanisms, and even use a blacklight-like feature to find secrets not normally visible.

The game is a lot of fun, but let’s make clear that you’re not actually examining a room, as the title may suggest.  Instead, you’re circling around a central object to examine, like a cabinet, table, etc.

How is this like an escape room?

The exploration and tinkering elements of an escape room hit the notes here.

Where Can I Purchase?

Steam has the first installment.  It also has sequels available too.

Firewatch

Take on the role of Henry, a new Park Ranger in Wyoming.  Although you’ll help Henry perform his day-to-day duties, Firewatch is really more about the relationships Henry has had or is forming throughout.

This game is classified under Adventure or Walking Simulator.  It’s not an action game, it’s not a puzzle game.  It’s really a story with well-acted voiceovers that have the right placement and timings.

Although I was not satisfied with the ending, it’s sometimes the mark of a great story where the ending is not satisfactory – otherwise, why would anyone care?

How is this like an escape room?

If you play an escape room for the story, then Firewatch is for you.

Where Can I Purchase?

GOG and Steam offer the game for purchase.

Day Of The Tentacle

Now we’re going old-school.  If you recognize this game or the studio LucasArts, you know where I’m going with this.

Back in the 80s and 90s, there were a bunch of games that all graced my Windows 3.1 operating system.  There were some great ones like King’s Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Maniac Mansion, and more.  I’ve chosen Day Of The Tetntacle (DOTT) here because there is a remastered version and I’ve played it all the way through.

DOTT is a point-and-click adventure.  Move Bernard, Laverne, and Hoagie around the screen by choosing verbs, clicking items, and/or clicking on objects in the scene.  Explore the past, present, and future in a fun and interactive way all with a mouse.

If you’re under the age of 30 and you haven’t played DOTT, you might not appreciate it the same way.  These types of games are a piece of nostaligia with core gameplay principles that exist today.

How is this like an escape room?

Piecing together items or finding an item to use in a creative way sounds a lot like what you’ll find here at The Escape Effect.

Where Can I Purchase?

GOG has it on sale.