Theme (almost) Thursday – Choose Your Own Adventure

Prologue: I started writing this post on Wednesday, and planned to finish it the next evening. Then when I got home from work on Thursday I saw this tweet from @EscapistTO. I’ve said before that great minds think alike but this is getting ridiculous! Anyway, I haven’t read that post yet and won’t until I’ve finished this (which is now making it a Theme Friday). So any duplication is entirely intentional (although not originally of course).

Times move fast in the world of escaping at the minute! I missed Theme Thursday last week due to a severe case of real life, and now it’s already Thursday again. In the mean time ExitGames has started a new feature, Mechanics Monday, which looks more at how games work and suggestions of new features rather than the look, feel and plot. I look forward to whatever the next alliterative allusion may be!

This week’s suggestion kind of crosses the boundary between theme and mechanics. Escape Room Addict recently shared an interesting article (I’m sure only partly because they were mentioned in it). In the article it mentions an escape experience “allowing for multiple endings based on groups’  performance”. A separate discussion on the Escape Enthusiasts Google Group spoke about how the best rooms are the most immersive ones, and what techniques can be used to create more of a role-playing experience. A couple of episodes ago Extra Credits focussed on role-playing, that extols choices, consequences and permanence as features that involve you in a game. And finally Richard Osman (a UK TV producer, quiz show host and generally good follow on Twitter) wrote some funny tweets based on Choose Your Own Adventure. Hey, I didn’t say all my ideas were original!

So combining all these ideas we have an escape game with multiple possible outcomes, and which outcome you experience depends on your actions and/or choices within the game. There are a couple of ways this could be implemented:

  1. Multiple exits – Probably the most obvious way to implement different outcomes is having physically different routes to escape from, with each door allowing the story to branch in a different direction:

branching rooms

The issue with it is the amount of space taken for what is essentially one game. Yes it increases the replayability of the room, but it’s unlikely that people will want to do it six times (unless you had a way of changing/randomising the content from the first/shared rooms).

  1. Changing content – A more space efficient solution could be having fairly standard layout of rooms, but the content of the room is modified in real time by a gamemaster. For example the players are given a choice soon after entering room 1. Once the choice is made amendments start on room 2 that aren’t encountered until approximately 15 minutes later. Then the same is repeated for room 3 following the entry to room 2:


Every room is used in every game. Maybe not every puzzle (or every version of every puzzle) but it’s much closer to a traditional set up. Plus there’s no limit to the number of different dressings a room could have (apart from the set up time). You may need an extra Gamemaster, but if the game was worth it you could maybe charge a little more to cover the cost.

Okay, so this has all been very mechanical so far. How might this work from a story perspective? You could be given a choice of equipment to take (“You can only afford one piece”) which enables different puzzles; UV goggles vs. Spy cam vs. Magnet in an espionage type story. You could be given a choice of prisoners to liberate in a jailbreak tale. You could be given different ways to approach a fantasy task; learn fighting, learn sneaking or learn magic.

There’s lots of things you could do like this. And it would be worth more time and thought then I can spare right now. So I’ll turn it over to you. What adventure would you choose?


  1. Btw, I was thinking of multiple doors after reading EscapistTO’s! You could start off simpler, just have a team choose between two doors and the choice is permanent, you can’t go back to the other door. 😀

    We do have a few that do multiple endings. One has an ending and you get a prize for doing a more difficult ending. 😀

    Anyway, I’m all into immersion and role-play.

    One difficult thing in escape rooms is trying to focus on a puzzle. Each puzzle would have to be labelled some how to show that a particular skill is required, else they may be spending all their time opening up a puzzle they can’t solve!

    Anyway, a lot of fun ideas can be done with this! ^_^

  2. Oh yes, I intended for the the doors to shut behind you, or at least you can only open one. If the choice isn’t permanent it’s just too easy to back track (unless you’re playing Life is Strange, which looks very interesting).

    And you’ve also just reminded me I’m due a post on ‘deliberate red herrings’/time wasters. I’ll make a start on that now.

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