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Escape rooms: What are they?

Updated: Dec 24, 2021

Escape rooms can often be known as a 'Exit Game', 'Puzzle Room' or 'Escape Game'. They're all rooms that are typically themed with a back story and decorated in a way that makes the scenario more believable. We will talk about scenario's & Genres a little later.

Essentially, the basic concept of an escape room, is an interactive game in which teams of players search for clues, solve puzzles and complete a variety of themed tasks in order to complete the game objective.

Most Escape room experiences take the objective literally, with your main objective to escape the room your team is in, for example, a prison game, the objective to escape the prison makes perfect sense.

However, take our Contained Liverpool Escape Room as an example. When playing our Exorcist escape room, the objective is not to escape, the objective is to perform an exorcism on the possessed child and rid her of the demon.

In order to do so, you need to solve a series of puzzles along the way to learn about the possession and how to defeat the demon.

As the game progresses, you are rewarded with information and also tools you will need to successfully banish the demon, such as a 2000 year old holy cross.

Therefor, its not always about escaping as such and is more about winning/achieving the end game.

What happens if you don't escape/win?

Each escape room company does this part different, but most commonly, if you don't escape or 'win' the game, usually the games master (the staff member looking after your team), will enter the game once your time is up and will give you a run down on the mistakes you made and will explain the puzzles you either didn't solve or didn't get up to.

Now, in our opinion, this is the best way to finish an experience for those who don't escape/win.

However, we have visited some escape room companies and failed the game, and we where basically escorted out of the game with no explanation as to where we went wrong or how far left we had to go, which in my opinion, is pretty awful.

Its like watching a movie and it finishing without finding out what happened or how it ended, which is very disappointing.

At Contained Liverpool escape rooms, we ALWAYS make sure our players understand the mistakes they made and show them each and every puzzle solution that they either didn't reach or could not solve.

When time permits, we even let our teams solve the remaining puzzles with our games master, so that they leave still getting the full experience, after all, they have paid good money and gave us their time by visiting us, so we are more than happy to give them our time so that they can leave fully satisfied with the experience.

We also find that teams who fail, have just as much fun as those that win. Once we walk them through where they went wrong, it creates a fair bit of banter within the team as they all start playing the blame game on "I told you that was wrong" or "its all your fault".

It also gives players the 'Kick yourself' moment too, which we and they find hilarious, for example, when we point out a really obvious puzzle piece we hide in our game, that the players have searched for to no avail, they then kick themselves as we all laugh when one of the group says "Oh my god, I stood by that for like 10 minutes". So I suppose it depends on where you go, but we believe that if you don't escape, a full and fun walkthrough of what was left, is the best way to make all of our guests leave feeling happy with a funny story to tell.

Do you actually get locked inside?

This is another question we get a lot!

Again, it all depends on what company you visit. At our Contained Liverpool Escape rooms, you're never actually locked in the room, reason being, we put our guests safety at the forefront of what we do.

We have all seen the real life horror stories which have ended tragically due to players being physically locked in the rooms, resulting in evacuations being unsuccessful due to players not being able to leave the building during a fire.

Most credible escape room company's will never physically lock players in the rooms, because as I said, safety of the players is top priority.

What we do instead, is use Electric magnetic door locks, with emergency exit buttons next to the door, so if players want to leave for any reason, they simply press and hold the button and the door unlocks, allowing players to leave.

We also go a step further here! Our Electric door locks are what are known as 'fail safe', meaning, in the event of a power cut, fire or evacuation procedure, the power to the locks is cut off automatically, resulting in the door no longer being locked. This to us is crucial, as it means in an emergency, the door automatically opens allowing our guests to leave quickly and safely.

That brings us to our next point, not all players want to continue with the game for whatever reason, and they want to leave/sit out or even take a little break.

Some escape room companies do not allow this, and they will often say in their pre-game rules that if any players leave the game, the game is over and all players need to leave. We don't agree with this, as it applies a lot of peer pressure on a person if they wanted to leave, who then feel trapped by their team mates as they don't want to be the reason that their friends didn't have a good time.

At Contained Liverpool escape rooms, we always tell our teams that any of them are welcome to exit the game at anytime, whether that be due to feeling unwell, or tired or even if they just aren't enjoying it (escape rooms aren't everyone's cup of tea).

We tell all of our guests, should they want to leave or need a break, simply press the push to exit button and leave the game, take a seat in our lounge and if they want to re-join at any time, simply press the button again and re-enter the game.

This very rarely happens, however, the times it has happened, is often due to tension between their team mates and one of the players needs a few minutes away from their friends to calm down their competitive bickering.

What if we need help to solve clues?

By now, you've probably realized, that theirs no 'one size fits all' answer. It all depends on the company you visit.

We will breakdown what we believes is the main 4 clueing techniques that we've seen used:

  • Live Spoken Audio Clues: This is what we do, our games masters can see and hear everything you say and do in our games, and they're able to speak to you live over a speaker system which allows them to give you really specific clues. We also use this to add fun to the game too, as our games masters speak in character, which we find entertains our players whilst also keeping the game immersive and the story flowing.

  • Live Text Clues Via Screen: We have seen this used in most escape rooms, where your games master will simply type a clue on a screen in the room, which players then read. We're not a fan of this at Contained Liverpool escape rooms, as we feel its a little bit underwhelming, and doesn't always fit the theme of the game. For example, a pirate ship themed game which has a TV screen in for clues, really doesn't make sense, and breaks the illusion of being on a real pirate ship.

  • Automated Pre-recorded clues: This is where players can press a button in the game and a pre-recorded clue will play into the room. Now, whilst this sounds super exciting, we have found this to be very frustrating an underwhelming when we have played games with this type of clue system, reason being, the clues aren't very helpful. A good example of this, is when we had found an item we needed, but it was not working (even though we had the solution correct). We pressed the clue button and the clue played "Perhaps, you can find something useful in that draw"... Even though we had found it 10 minutes ago! We pressed the clue button again and the auto-clue played "Perhaps that item you've found sits on the fire place"... again, we done this about 5 minutes ago! For us, this type of clueing system is just too vague and not helpful at all, hence why we don't use it at our Contained Liverpool escape room games.

  • Games Master Physical Intervention: This type of clueing, is when the games master, physically enters the game and gives the players help, usually very hands on, by simply walking in and solving the puzzle for you. In our opinion, this just breaks the immersion of the entire game and takes the fun out of it for the players. If ever you find an escape room that uses this type of clueing, we strongly recommend you don't give them your hard earned money. The only way this could ever really work well, would be if the games master was in costume and in character and had a reason in the story to be their, with perfectly scripted lines & clues... which we have never encountered.

Themes & Scenarios

Escape rooms always have a theme/genre, and choosing the right one for you is always your first big challenge.

At Contained Liverpool Escape games, we tend to be a little bit more niche and out of the box with our game themes, after all, who wants to copy what everybody else does right?

For us, we focus on themes with a little scare factor or a family friendly spook factor, such as The Exorcist (pretty scary) or The Addams Family (Spooky family fun). We think its important to break away from the stereo-typical game themes, not that theirs anything wrong with them, its just that many people have 'played them and got the t-shirt'.

The most common escape room themes are:

  • Cowboys/Wild West

  • Pirates

  • Bank robbery

  • Prison Escape

  • Wizard/Magic School

  • Diffuse The Bomb/Spy/War

  • Saw (as in, the movie with the little fella on the bike)

  • Temple/Egyptian

  • Virus/Zombie

We have played a lot of these game themes, and yes, they're very exciting and a lot of them are fantastic, with each and every one of them being different experiences, however, at Contained Liverpool, we want to branch out and give something different and never before seen.

Will we ever have a pirate themed game? who knows, never say never, but if we did, it would have to be something mind blowing in order for us to justify the theme being similar to that of 90% of other escape rooms.

That brings us to the end of this blog post on 'what is an escape room?'. Hopefully, you've learned a little and had a good read, and feel much more comfortable with taking the leap and booking an escape room game with us, or somebody else.

Check out our Post on 'How To Solve Any Escape room'.

Stay awesome,


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