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Story, challenges, and gorgeous graphics mixed with the right amount of technology.

That’s a pretty good description of an escape room, but it’s an even better description of the escape room video games on this list. If you have not yet had a chance to play these, give them a shot right now. Whether you appreciate artwork, puzzling things out, or a roller coaster of emotions, this list has something for everyone. These are five must-play escape room video games.

Portal 2

Portal 2 is a first-person puzzle game, and arguably one of the most popular games from the 2010s (#9 on NME’s list of the best games of the decade, and #5 on The Guardian’s list.). As a test subject for Aperture Laboratories, make your way through a series of test chambers with the help of Wheatley, a personality core for the lab’s main computer. As the game progresses, you’ll have to face GLaDOS, the sarcastic AI controlling the abandoned facility.

The primary mechanism to solve puzzles is the portal gun, which shoots projectiles that open portals. The portals act as warp points and only two can be activated at one time. Walk through one portal and end up at the location of the second portal. You’ll quickly learn that other objects and projectiles can warp between portals too, which leads to particularly creative puzzle solutions.

I remember Portal 2 being a really lengthy game. In fact, looking at my Steam account, it took me just about 20 hours to make it through. Compare that with its predecessor, Portal, which required only about five hours to complete it!

How Is This Like An Escape Room?

At the onset, each testing lab feels like a mini-escape room, which requires similar outside-the-box thinking to a physical escape room.

Where Can I Purchase This?

Portal 2 is available on Steam, either by itself or in a bundle with Portal. It’s also available for the XBox, and bundled with Portal for Nintendo Switch.

The Secret Of Monkey Island

The Secret Of Monkey Island is a point-and-click adventure game from 1990. It was remastered in 2009, introducing a new generation to the wacky misadventures of Guybrush Threepwood. This aspiring pirate tries to join a crew and face off against a villainous ghost pirate, LeChuck.

The gameplay is similar to other LucasArt games of the time. Pick up items and use those items to solve puzzles while exploring the environment. Also, talk to different characters and learn more about the lore behind the eponymous Monkey Island. Although Lucas Arts games of the time tended to be similar puzzle-heavy adventures, Monkey Island stands apart for me specifically because it included wholesome comedy. More specifically, I fondly remember battling pirates by attacking with insults.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can switch from the remastered graphics to the classic style at any time.

How Is This Like An Escape Room?

Using items and figuring out what goes together is very similar to how props can be used in escape rooms. You wouldn’t expect some things to work with others, but they do!

Where Can I Purchase This?

The Secret of Monkey Island‘s remaster is available on Steam. You can also pick up all of the Monkey Island games in a bundle—including Return To Monkey Island, a whole new adventure recently released.

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 escape room 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 okay 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 room games are!

Where Can I Purchase This?

Steam offers the first two 999 games (999 and Virtue’s Last Reward) as a bundle.  If you’re 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 puzzle 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.  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?

It might not seem like The Witness would be considered an escape room video game, but it does have a ton of exploration, discovery AND it also presents puzzles that hit the same notes of a traditional escape room.

Where Can I Purchase This?

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 of escape room video game.

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 an escape 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 game hit all the right notes here.

Where Can I Purchase This?

Steam has the first installment.  It also has sequels of this escape room video game available too.

Bonus Picks

It’s hard to pick just five, so here are some more escape room video games that you’ll love.

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 QuestLeisure Suit LarryManiac Mansion, and more.  I’ve chosen Day Of The Tentacle (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 nostalgia 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 This?

GOG has this classic escape room video game on sale.


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 voice-overs 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 the escape room video game for you.

Where Can I Purchase This?

GOG and Steam offer this escape room game for purchase.


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