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Out of the box: Tasks for the creative mind

At its best, an escape room is a place where you get to use your “little grey cells” in various ways. In this article, we’ll show you some puzzles that will send your creative mind spinning right out of the box. Be ready to get surprised!

Out of the Box

The use of a pepper mill

Escape gamers need ahaa! moments, when they experience surprise. What usually works is to use ordinary objects – let’s say, a pepper mill – in extrordinary ways. For example, the players find the pepper mill and a recipe for pepper steak. When they prop up the recipe against the wall and put the pepper mill in front of it, the level of peppers in the mill indicates a certain item or number in the recipe that is needed to crack the next task. To realize this, the players have to forget the normal uses of a pepper mill and expand their thinking outside the box.

The task can be broadened by adding something else to measure with – a salt mill? The mill is placed next to the pepper mill and its level of salt indicates yet another number or item in the recipe. Soon you’ll have your code.

Granny’s lace cloth is a matrix

To create out-of-the-box tasks you only need a bit of wild imagination – the items used can be very ordinary. The sofa cushions become a mosaic. The eraser contains a magnet. Granny’s lace table cloth becomes a matrix with marked holes through which you can see something underneath. The cutlery laid a bit strangely on the dinner table serves as arrows, pointing in wanted directions. Wine corks must be pushed into a horizontal tube to push out a cork with a code that is hidden in the middle of the tube. Glass bottles are filled with different levels of water and played upon with a spoon to create a certain melody. Double-folded pieces of fabric have letters, numbers or symbols written on the inside, becoming visible when the fabric is held against a lamp. A small magnet is fastened to the back of a portrait picture at eye level, another magnet is glued to the nose bridge of a pair of old spectacles (remove the handles): players can actually click the specs onto the portrait and maybe see very small numbers in the portraits irises through the magnifying glass.

The text is no text

The players find a piece of paper inside a book – maybe a letter or a post card. The content fits the overall game story, but it is not the content we are after! Unobtrusively, the letter mentions specific numbers. For example: “Dearest only daughter of mine, I have tried to visit you three times since Christmas but always encountered some difficulty. Yesterday, my horse lost all his four shoes and the neighbor couldn’t spare a single horse. Having taken care of all the mishaps, I’ll be with you in exactly a week. Mom. ” Can you see the number code 1-3-4-0-7 hidden in the letter?

Obviously, the text can equally well be an e-mail or text message talking about cars, the weather or the stock market, all depending on your game story.

The point is that the players have to shift their attention from reading the content of the message to seeing the numbers in it. This is a classical out-of-the-box puzzle with a lot of variations. Instead of numbers, the text can mention directions. places, names, colors or items that are needed to solve a problem. A fun variation is to make intentional spelling mistakes, whereby the missing or wrongly used letters form a message.