Escape room puzzles come in all styles, from ciphers to riddles and more! With so much variety to them, everyone is bound to have their favorite puzzle types. Here are my top 10 favorite escape room puzzles.
If any of the puzzle names on this list are unfamiliar to you, check out our Escape Room Glossary.
People either love or hate logic puzzles, and I absolutely adore them. For my fellow logicians out there, you’ll understand the sense of satisfaction that comes from figuring out what absolutely has to be true based on the limited information given. As each clue is solved and more details are figured out, everything falls into place from there. Logic grids are also particularly great escape room puzzles because they can be the culmination of other puzzles. Sometimes, solving them can create hidden shapes or allow you to find the killer in a murder mystery!
In one room I played, the final puzzle was a logic grid where we had to combine all the pieces and clues we had gotten previously to figure out where the crime took place, what what the tool was, and who was responsible. It was a lot like Clue and it was my favorite part of the room!
Word play, word play, word play; that’s the essence of riddles. These tricky little escape room puzzles can be serious questions or silly puns, but they really help highlight the versatility of language. They can also be a real roadblock in escape rooms, especially when the answer is on the tip of your tongue, but that’s all part of the fun!
Escape rooms are known for being mental challenges, but every so often there will be some physical aspect. Whether that’s throwing an item, crawling through a small space, or reaching something far away, these tasks are a refreshing addition to the escape room roster. Even if I’m not always the best at them, it’s a good time taking turns trying to complete a physical challenge with my friends.
Various rooms I’ve played have contained such a task: we had to crawl into a fireplace in one, we had to throw foam bricks in another, we had to throw a key to our teammates in another still. These are just a few of the many physical types of escape room puzzles I’ve seen.
If you’re a fan of codes, ciphers are the escape room puzzles for you. It’s rare, if it ever happens, that an escape room will force you to decode something without a key, but sometimes there are parts of the key that you have to fill in for yourself. That’s my favorite part of a cipher puzzle: filling in the blanks before the key can be applied. It makes the result so much sweeter when you were actively involved in figuring out how to decode it!
Hidden shape puzzles are often concealed at the end of a different puzzle. Solving one thing creates an image or a word that wasn’t there before. It can be difficult to spot it, but there is something really gratifying about noticing shapes or messages that were hidden in something else. It makes me feel incredibly perceptive and allows the room to continue at a rewarding pace.
For an example, in one room I played, we had to place test tubes in the correct locations. When they were all properly inserted, the tubes altogether spelled out the code needed to open the next lock.
Other people can be the best or worst part of an escape room depending on who is there with you. However, teamwork is the heart of the escape room experience, and puzzles that take advantage of that have created some of the most memorable moments for me personally. Perhaps you have to share information, touch different objects at the same time, or be someone else’s eyes; whatever the case, working out what to do together is a great bonding experience!
A Knight To Escape is a great example of a teamwork-based game. While your team is split between the dungeon and courtyard, you still need to pass information and items between sides. You’ll also find yourself needing to work with teammates on the same side as you to solve puzzles.
In my opinion, no escape room should be unsolvable due to some outside knowledge that you don’t have. Having said that, it can be quite fun to flex your expertise in an obscure field if it helps you solve a puzzle before the room gives you that information. For example, my Sherlock Holmes and Greek mythology know-how has been useful in rooms before!
Escape rooms are immersive experiences, but there can be puzzles that feel disconnected from the overall theme. That’s why I love when a puzzle incorporates some element of the story of the room. I like being immersed in an escape room’s narrative rather than just running through the puzzles as fast as possible. When a story-based puzzle shows up, that investment is vindicated. Reading and paying attention to the story items in a room can really pay off in the end. It makes feel like you’re actually accomplishing something more than just getting out of the room!
In one murder mystery room, I read a newspaper clipping explaining the whole set-up to the story at the very beginning. Later, it turned out that reading that gave me essential information for a puzzle that required a little bit of knowledge about the family in the case. It felt great that reading the story ended up being important, rather than just set dressing for the room!
Sometimes, it takes looking at a situation from a different angle to figure out a solution. Perspective puzzles are the physical embodiment of that general life advice. It kind of feels like there’s something deep about perspective puzzles, even if you’re just crouching or moving to a different area in the room. It really is quite amazing how different things can look by adjusting where you’re viewing it from. My advice if you’re ever stuck in an escape room? Take a deep breath and step back before trying again.
For example, in one room, there were objects hanging on the wall that just looked like part of the set. However, when we took a step back, those items were actually arranged to look like numbers! Those numbers ended up being the code we needed to continue.
Meta puzzles are possibly my favorite type of escape room puzzles. I love how they are the culmination of the solutions to other puzzles; the room feels cohesive in a very satisfying way when everything comes together at the end. Also, all the puzzles leading up to a meta puzzle feel important rather than just being one-off tasks. Even better, often a meta puzzle ties into the story of the room, really adding to the immersive nature of the game. Tying everything together with another challenge is just peak escape room!
My favorite version of this was in a murder mystery room. Every piece of evidence we had gathered was relevant to determine the final code including newspaper clippings, suspects, weapons, locations, and times. I felt like a real detective stringing it all together!