To hint or not to hint – The Messy world of Escape room hints or clues

What are escape room hints?

Escape room hints or clues are available in the majority of escape rooms. These can sometimes be delivered via a screen in the room, over a radio or any other ingenious method. They will provide players with a prompt to help them overcome a puzzle and progress the story!

Delivery methods

Hints can be delivered to players in different ways. In the majority of situations the players would need to ask for a hint but in some (Including Prodigy) they can be provided proactively if a team is falling behind. The two most popular ways to deliver hints are either verbally through either radio or intercom or via a written clue displayed on a screen in the room.

Keeping on theme

For us, we feel that the delivery system should always try to be in keeping with the story theme. In Mission Impawsible because it has a secret agent theme walkie talkies are typical of the theme. In Mount Clifton Manor we use an intercom system because it matches the storyline. As we develop Lost temple we will carefully consider a hint delivery system that suits the environment.

Limited or Unlimited hints

There are some escape room locations where hints are limited. Groups will have to carefully consider whether they use hints on particular puzzles or save them for later when they might be needed. At Prodigy, we offer unlimited hints without penalising teams. We do this as we feel that we need to be accessible to people of different abilities.

No hints at all

Some groups prefer the thrill of not having any hints at all to experience the full challenge. Whilst we can accommodate this we typically do not recommend it. This is because when inside the experience it is not really possible to gauge how much is left to go. At Prodigy we want everyone to complete the story so prefer to work with teams to ensure they finish but also ensure that they also are challenged.

Top tips for hints

Who would have thought a page about hints would have it’s own hints section! Here’s a few best practices to get the most out of your escape room experience.

Don’t wait too long before asking for a hint

Many groups will consider that if they have 50% of the time left they will not need a hint. This can be problematic if there’s a room that you haven’t yet discovered especially if there are tougher puzzles ahead. You may loose time early on that is difficult to regain in the later stages of an escape room. Set yourself a time limit per puzzle and if it’s taking too long (5+ minutes) it might be worth asking for assistance.

The wording is important

Escape room operators are telling a story and games masters will try and maintain a character. In most situations they’ll be delivering clues in such a way that will still present a challenge to the visitors but still be maintaining with the lore. A challenge we have found when delivering a clue will be if that hint is paraphrased or shortened which may lose important information. Example : Games Master (In West country accent) – “Hello, My lover, I see you’ve found yourself a torch. Perhaps it might be wise to try that torch on [Particular Object]” Visitor to rest of group – “He said we’ve got to use a torch”

Recite the Clue back to the whole group

Word for word. Make sure everyone has a chance to interpret and understand the guidance given.

Ask your group if they’d like hint

Many groups will want to try and complete with as few clues or hints as possible. It is good practice to confer with the group and decide if you want a hint or not. If you decide that you want a bit more time it is good practice to agree how long to spend on a particular puzzle before asking for help.

Games Masters are watching

Most escape rooms will have the games master watching with video and audio feed of what’s going on. Because of this they will be keeping up to speed with what you’re working on and things you’ve tried (hopefully!). The priority of any games master is that your group is enjoying themselves. If they are proactive with providing hints (like us at Prodigy) they may take sighs, raised voices, frustration or bickering as a prompt to provide a hint and keep things progressing.

escape room hints meme
Sometimes an escape room hint can just be remembering something!

Read more about our escape room adventures here.