I don’t have much time today (stupid work) but don’t want to miss. Apologies if it seems a bit rushed.
My suggestion for today is partly inspired by this post about a little known UK reality/game show from fifteen years ago.
In almost every escape game situation you have to suspend your disbelief when it comes to a puzzle. Even if it’s perfectly within theme there’s still a little voice that says “but why would this be a puzzle?” The answer to this is to have none. Your escape is dependant on using the contents of the room around you to fashion your escape. Problem solving rather than puzzle solving if you will.
Using an example similar to the one in the link, the setting could be a sheriff’s office where you first have to break out of your cell, then the door to the outside. The keys to the cell door are visible but out of reach. So maybe one of the bars on your cell will come loose and you can use that to reach the keys. But to make the bar loose you need to undo a screw (I’m sure real cells aren’t screwed together but come on), so you need a screwdriver. A screwdriver has been dropped down the drain by the maintenance man, and if you can get some water down the drain it will wash it to the grid that you can reach. There’s a tap in your cell but it won’t pour into the right drain so you need a vessel that will carry it. There’s a plastic tub outside the cell but it won’t fit through the bars so you have to…
On and on it goes until you have the key/pass code that gets you out. I think you could weave quite a nice little route from one object to the next that’s constantly making you think without it being a specific puzzle. The appropriately titled film Escape Plan has a few suggestions that you could incorporate. What would make it even better is if there are multiple ways of getting out and it just depends which items you find and how you interpret them (whilst simultaneously making it tougher by hiding what each item is for). And of course you get a bit of an ‘open world’ feel as a group may fashion an exit plan that you hadn’t thought of.
A further potential enrichment would be to have the game host in character as the sheriff/prison guard who follows a specific routine at a certain time, which makes some of the events time bound, and also makes you hide what you’re doing while they’re nearby (“get back in the cell, he’s coming!”).
So what do you think? Is the puzzle solving part of the challenge for you, or would you like to see what it’s really like to break out?