If you’ve never done an escape room before, the concept can be pretty daunting. Something that many who haven’t done a room for themselves often don’t know is that more people don’t escape than do. And that's ok! Everyone can still have a good time with escape rooms, even if they don't make it all the way out. Depending on who you ask, the average success rate across the industry is anywhere from 20 to 40%. Escape rooms can vary drastically in difficulty from room to room, even at the same location. Most escape room websites (like www.escapeocity.com) have recommended difficulty ratings for each room so that prospective escapees know what they’re getting into. Understanding these ratings and what “difficulty” means in the context of escape rooms is key to finding the room that suits your group’s needs!
What does “difficult” mean for an escape room?
An escape room being “difficult” can mean a lot of different things. Sometimes, it means that an escape room has intricate logic puzzles with many steps and many separate pieces of information that take a long time to work through. "Difficult" could also mean that there are a lot of separate puzzles- each one might not be that difficult on its own, but there are so many to get done in your hour that many groups run out of time before getting to all of them. “Difficult” can also refer to the ambiguity of the puzzles in the room- some puzzles might not explicitly explain their rules or come with instructions, and the participants are required to make logical leaps to find the correct answer.
So why are escape rooms so difficult? Isn’t it more fun if people escape?
We agree! It is more fun for participants if they escape the room. Ideally, every group would escape with a minute or two left in dramatic fashion and everyone would be excited about the experience. Unfortunately, this is not possible because of the wide variety of experience levels that escape rooms cater to. At Escapeocity we get everything from first-time participants who barely know what an escape room is to experts who have escaped dozens of rooms and travelled from over an hour away to see our experiences. When designing a room, we need to keep both ends of that spectrum in mind. We want first-timers to have a chance to see everything the room has to offer, and even escape if they do well. We also want the experts to feel like they’ve been challenged, and not to escape in 10 minutes. Striking a balance between all types of participants is important to us so that we can make sure every person has a good time with our rooms.
How can I tell how hard a room is?
Many websites will have difficulty ratings for each room that try to give you an idea of the difficulty to expect. Our website uses a rating out of 10, with 10 being the most difficult, as many sites do. We use our escape rates to determine these ratings- if a room has 50% of groups make it out, like our former room Time Machine, it would be a 5/10 rating for difficulty. Our current rooms, La Résistance and School Spirits, are rated 6/10 and 8/10, based on their 40% and 20% success rates respectively. Some sites will also just include success rates or escape rates instead of a number out of 10. Look for a room that matches your group’s experience level or the challenge you’re looking for! A room labeled with a 6/10 or easier, or with a 30-40% success rate or higher, would be a good choice for first-timers or those looking for a lighter challenge. If a room is 9/10 difficulty or has less than a 20% success rate, expect it to be challenging (but not impossible).
Our rooms also allow you to ask for as many hints as you want if you get stuck, meaning some part of the difficulty is up to you! If you want to make our leaderboard, though, you can only ask for 3 or fewer hints!
If you have any questions about escape room difficulty or anything else, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 224-801-CODE.