Designing Escape Rooms to Modern Standards

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 We’re going to start this blog post off with some really exciting news, and currently this is the only place you will find this announcement, so you’re pretty special. Clue Chase is building new rooms – and not only are we building new rooms, but these new rooms will start opening up in September! (Soon)! Oh, and not only are we building new rooms, but these new rooms are in our new downtown location, so we’ll be able to keep upgrading all the Clue Chase rooms you may already know and love, along with adding four entirely brand new games to our repertoire. Exciting!

Clue Chase first started developing our original games in 2014, before our eventual opening in the fall of 2015. At the time we were one of the first escape room companies on the market in NYC, and if we’re being completely honest – everyone’s expectations for what an escape room should be were a bit lower. If you stuck some puzzles in a room, or at least tried to decorate the room, and had locks for people to open, you could get five star reviews. As escape rooms were, at the time, a pretty new and pretty niche form of entertainment for many people they were experiencing their first escape game. The conceit of solving puzzles against the clock is fun in and of itself, and certainly carried these early escape games for a while.

However, we have hit the point where most people who have even a passing interest in escape rooms have played one, or five, or one hundred and twenty four. People still love escape rooms, but now people are looking for something new. Gone are the days of groups being content to open up combination lock after combination lock in an endless series. Gone are the days of people accepting puzzles that are clearly not original designs but instead online print outs or dollar store playthings. People want to be immersed. People want puzzles that are thoroughly couched in the gameplay (meaning the actions the player must take in order to complete the puzzle have some kind of logical basis within the theme of the room). People want a narrative that drags them through the room as they progress, offering twists and surprises as they play.

In other words, we’re getting to the point where escape rooms need to compete with theme parks. They need to compete with immersive theatrical productions, and at Clue Chase, we know they can. We pride ourselves on being one of the very first escape room companies to really start putting effort into the narrative fiction of the world we’re building. We’ve taken great care in every aspect of our design, from the lobby to the hallways to (of course) the rooms themselves in order to bring players into an immersive and cohesive world. Our room runners won’t just come out and quickly explain the rules before dumping you in the room – our runners serve to help further immerse you in our fiction, taking on the mantle of scientists and technicians at a somewhat-unauthorized time travel research facility. Our games share easter eggs and references that cross between the rooms, and every game is tied together by a single narrative backing, our quest for a mysterious object of power, known only as “The Artifact”. With a second location and four brand new games we’re looking at this as an opportunity to further expand our narrative universe, and also to better hone our tools as both game designers and as tellers of interactive fiction

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Our two lead designers, deep in thought with some of the tools of the trade.

What this means is that we’re holding ourselves to higher standards than ever before, after all, if each new room we create isn’t at least an iterative improvement on all of our previous designs, then what’s the point? We strive to grow and constantly achieve more as writers, game designers and as a company. For these new rooms we’re investing heavily in custom technology that (as years in the escape room industry has taught us is very necessary) will be as solid and foolproof as possible, nothing quite ruins an escape room experience like malfunctioning technology. We’re also investing in our narrative cohesion, redesigning and renovating the entire lobby at this new location to reflect an alternate reality Clue Chase, also in pursuit of the artifact, but in four different places.

Those of you who have played multiple games at Clue Chase are likely already familiar with our overarching quest for the artifact gameplay, and the pieces you can collect in order to complete a final puzzle and receive items as a prize. At our new location we want to go beyond that. We’re designing a system that will have players collecting different pieces of data that they will uncover as they progress through the rooms. These pieces of data can then be fed into a special program we’re building for our players and registered to their unique profile. Once players complete all four of these new escape rooms they will gain access to an entirely free, exclusive escape room game. That’s right – we’re not talking a single puzzle, we’re talking an entire free game for our most loyal players. (Oooh, Ahhh).

We’re working extremely hard to bring these brand new escape room experiences to you, and we cannot wait to get players in to see what we’ve been doing! We think you’re going to love it.

Until next time,
Clue Chase