Escape 201 – The Red Herring Loop

So with Halloween right around the corner it got us thinking of those haunted houses.  You walk through halls of plastic ghosts, ghouls, goblins and occasionally someone will grab you or chase you (which may lead to some unintended punching of those people, but that’s a story for another time).

My wife pointed out that its exactly like these escape rooms. You’re tunnel visioned and you lose focus (and maybe even scared).  Is it a fear of losing? Or is it because the clock is counting down that you’re starting to see things?
Losing focus and getting stuck on a “Red Herring Loop” is painful for your head and your wallet.  Can you avoid it? probably not but here are some tips to minimize it.

1) Talk about the puzzles/potential solutions with your group members.
Involving other people in your thought process helps to sort things out and sometimes you already have the answer but you need that slight tweak to solve it.  But this is more important to avoid #3

2) Recheck your clues
Maybe you missed something?  Have another look at the room and the clues you haven’t already used.  If you’re sure that you have the right answer (but its not working), maybe there is a piece of it that you’re missing or misused.

3) If you’ve used a clue, put it away.
In big groups its easy to have someone pick up an already used clue and go off on their own train of thought.  In most places, if you’ve already used a clue, good chance it has no more use.  In one case I spent a good 20 minutes trying to figure out a number sequence, only to figure out that it was already used to unlock a previous door.  So in short, don’t do what I did.

4) If the majority of you think it’s a red herring….. it probably is
The most frustrating thing is when think you’ve been staring at this “Rubber Chicken” for the last 10 minutes thinking it has any significance, but it was just a prop.  Most of the time you’ll find that a group consensus is usually right.  If this clue/prop doesn’t fit the theme, and it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with your lock (like having a “chicken” for a number lock) then give up on it and move on.

5) Try it anyway!
Of course this is doing a 180 from what i said above, but sometimes being completely wrong is right.  Try it anyway because if you’ve been sitting there for 10 minutes and the group still can’t get it, you’ll probably kick yourself in the butt for not trying it.  And when that doesn’t work, have someone else try it (because you can’t trust those pesky lockboxes).

6) Ask for a Hint!
Because you’re not actually trapped, and this is a game.  If you don’t see yourself re-doing the room, then you might as well bite the bullet and move on.
Happy Escaping!