Linear or Non-Linear Escape rooms

One very divisive subject that we have found is whether Escape rooms should be Linear or not. Let’s look at the pros and cons related to each of these.

linear escape room diagram

What is a Linear escape room and how does it differ from a Non-Linear room?

A Linear room is a room that follows a specific order of puzzles. A Non-Linear room can be completed with a variable order which allows puzzles to be completed in different orders. Non-linear rooms may have some linear elements to allow a progression. An example of this would be the above diagram where the outputs from multiple puzzles (1, 2 & 3) are required to feed into puzzle 4 which may then open up into a new room.

What benefits do Linear rooms have?


A Linear escape room is great for storytelling. When you fulfill a story it will be important to have key elements be revealed at certain times or in a certain order. Without such structure, the participants may find it challenging to understand what is happening. With a linear room, there is the opportunity for everyone to see what is happening and what puzzles and solutions are present.

Engaging Teamwork

Because the whole team is working on one puzzle at a time you find higher levels of cooperation. Team members will increase communication as they explore potential solutions. The best teams will also rotate through team members to ensure that everyone gets a reasonable shot at participating.

Clear Progression

Because the game is designed in a linear order it is easier to signpost and direct participants. If a room has multiple things to do it can quickly become overwhelming. With a linear order, the game can be designed to allow certain locks and puzzles to be available at certain times which can be easier to keep track of and understand where to go next.

Large group sizes aren’t always a recipe for success

The linear room style stops large groups from dominating the leaderboards for the fastest times. A linear room stops groups from spreading out and working on separate puzzles on their own. You can find that an experienced duo can be just as effective at completing a room as some larger groups. Our log of times from The Haunting of Mount Clifton Manor shows just a 3-minute time variance between a team of two versus a team of six or more.

What benefits do Non-Linear rooms have?

More to do?

Large teams often enjoy non-linear rooms as it allows the ability to split up and work on puzzles in smaller groups or individually. This allows participants to be selective on the puzzles they want to complete or leave puzzles to other team members entirely. We have found that in non-linear rooms there can sometimes be an element of feeling like you didn’t get to experience as much. Especially if you get stuck on a particular puzzle for a while, you may hear “I’ve done it” across the room whilst not fully understanding what the puzzle was or how it was solved.

Less waiting

You may reach a point where you come against a tricky puzzle. In a linear room, you would need to focus on it until it has been overcome. Some participants may want to work on something else in the meantime which is possible in a non linear room.

What do we have at Prodigy Escapes?

At Prodigy Escapes we do offer a range of linear experiences. Our key objective is to offer strong narratives in escape rooms that bring people closer together through teamwork. Whilst it is not a vital element to whether an escape room is good or bad it may be a consideration depending on your group and what you hope to achieve from your experience.