I’m sure you’re all familiar with the ‘joke’ that goes something like:
“Bad news, Captain, the fugitive got away.”
“What?! I thought I told you to cover all the exits?”
“We did, sir, but they got out through an entrance.”
It’s not particularly funny but it touches on an interesting point.
Last night I was having a conversation with an escape room proprietor about briefings and stories. My initial point was that when a room’s entrance is not the exit you need to use, then an explanation is required on why you can’t go back that way. A good example is the facility being ‘locked down’ after you’ve entered, so you need to find another way out. But this is often forgotten about, even in rooms with otherwise good stories.
For the record, the proprietor agreed with me, and thought it was a good point.
Later I continued the conversation in my head (what do you mean that’s weird?). I’ve thought about mentioning this point in a couple of my reviews, but shied away from it because I wasn’t sure whether the fact of having a separate exit to find constituted a spoiler. It certainly could if the second door wasn’t immediately obvious, and/or you were used to playing games where the entrance was always the exit.
So now you’re kinda stuck. If you say “you can’t exit via this door because…” you’re revealing that there’s a second door and spoiling the surprise. And if you don’t say anything then the first door’s unsuitability goes unexplained and ‘spoils’ the story. A potential solution is discovering/triggering an event within the room that explains why you can’t go back, but that may not be practical for all themes/stories, and the verdict’s still out (not for me, but others in the escaping community) on whether they want ‘in game information’ to be part of their experience. What do you think?