Escape room alternatives are team games that players choose instead of standard exit games. These options often share similar themes, rules, or outcomes. For instance, murder mysteries, scavenger hunts, trivia, and different forms of escape games. Players engage in these alternatives to induce more fun and to help ensure that members with limitations such as phobias and age can fully immerse in the game.
This article covers:
- virtual escape room alternatives
- group activities like escape rooms
- DIY escape room alternatives
So, here are the best options.
List of escape room alternatives
Here is our list of the best alternatives to escape rooms.
1. Online escape rooms
Unlike in-person escape rooms where players visit gaming centers, online versions of escape rooms use video conferencing apps like Zoom and Skype. Players log in to a virtual meeting and then access the online escape game via clicking on a URL to play the challenge.
Team members collaborate to solve puzzles remotely using various online communication channels like Slack. However, in case of difficulties, the game master offers teams direction or hints to unstick the players.
Virtual escape rooms are suitable for remote workers and teammates with mobility challenges.
Check out this list of online escape rooms to try.
2. Offline digital escape rooms
Digital escape rooms are quests playable on devices like PC, smartphones, and iPads in solo or multiplayer modes.
These games are automated, and players do not have to run the games simultaneously or within a specific time frame. Instead, players only need to download the software and play at a convenient time.
Offline digital escape rooms are among the best solutions for team members who wish to share a game experience but cannot be available to play simultaneously. For instance, friends and families with different schedules or locations.
3. Virtual reality escape rooms
Virtual reality is among the most exciting escape room variation. The VR feature simulates a real-life experience so that players feel as though they are present in the scenario. These games use augmented reality to enable players to have real-time interaction with the environment. For example, players can sense their virtual surroundings through touch, hearing, and smell.
To participate in the challenge, players choose and book a game and time. Next players visit a VR gaming center, where each player sits on a chair and wears a special computerized gear consisting of headsets and controllers. The equipment enables players to enter into the virtual world where the game occurs.
VR escape rooms are suitable for gamers who desire extra adventure and immersion. This technique is also safer than in-person escape games, especially where players have to walk in the dark, climb, or use sharp objects like a letter opener. In addition, VR is super immersive in scary scenes, such as battling using weapons.
Check out this list of virtual reality escape rooms to play.
4. Outdoor escapes
Outdoor escape ideas are among the best homemade escape room alternatives. These exit games happen outdoors instead of in confined rooms, for example, in a school or home backyard. The thrill of these escapes lies in solving the set of puzzles in time.
To create these escape rooms, the organizers require homemade decor, age-appropriate puzzles, and a padlock with a key or code. Then, the organizers hide the puzzles in different locations for players to search and connect with the clues.
This outdoor option is most suitable for kids. Open space allows more room for freestyle play and encourages a greater number of children to participate. In addition, it is easier for adults to supervise kids outdoors.
5. Self-guided city tour
Self-guided city tours is an outdoor activity that involves the players exploring an unfamiliar destination. For instance, a tour through a nature trail or a city. Players may need to interact with locals to help find their way through the town.
To participate in the city tours, players use a combination of gamified phone-guided tours and digital maps to navigate. If playing in a new destination, then participants should first book the event to get directions from local tour guides. Or, players can send a couple of members for a previsit before the event.
Self-guided city tours, also known as city exploration games, are good choices for older teens and adults. In addition, since the activity requires walking, the game offers a good level of cardiovascular exercise and helps players to keep fit while having fun.
6. DIY escapes
Do-it-Yourself escape rooms are games that organizers design from scratch. The players then have to work together to get the ultimate reward. The prizes may vary with the participants’ characteristics and may include trophies, tasty treats, digital accessories, and tickets.
DIY escape is fun to create. The game is also a budget-friendly exercise where participants use available materials to create the riddles. This form of an escape game is common for home events such as Thanksgiving and play dates. Colleagues and students can also enjoy DIY escapes at work or in school.
Check out this guide to DIY escape rooms.
7. Mobile escape rooms
Mobile escape rooms are exit games where gaming centers deliver the rooms to the players’ location. The mobile rooms are complete with props, lighting, and themes. This environment provides the players with a similarly immersive experience as visiting the actual rooms at the gaming centers.
This mobile option is great for events such as birthdays, anniversaries, and teambuilding for players of all ages.
Werewolf is a team game where the players’ goal is to survive the night. The game takes place in a village, and participants role-play as villagers, medics, seers, and werewolves. The villagers and the werewolves are opponents and fight for survival by eliminating each other every night.
To play the game, participants receive notifications of their roles before the game and are expected not to reveal those roles. Instead, players use clues that unfold as the game progresses to distinguish werewolves from the villagers.
Werewolf can perfectly substitute an escape room because the two are alike. For example, both games involve a mystery to solve, provide more hints as the game advances, and players need to collaborate to overcome trouble. Also, players can participate in either game remotely or in person.
Learn more about Werewolf.
9. Murder mystery
Murder mysteries are group activities like escape rooms. The setting and execution of the two games may be similar, but murder mystery always has a suspicious death in the storyline. The players need to incorporate a bit of investigation to find the murderer.
For best performance, participants should receive individual scripts early enough and rehearse the lines ahead of the game. This preparation facilitates the flow of the story and the developing clues. Players can also dress up or use costumes to match the story’s theme.
A murder mystery game is most suitable for adults and older teens. Murder themes may upset younger players, so parental guidance is necessary when having children on the team.
Puzzles are fun games where players have to combine interlocking pieces to form a whole part. The two main puzzle types are the jigsaw, where the end product is an image on a flat surface, and 3-D puzzles, which involve stacking the pieces to form an object.
A jigsaw or a 3-D puzzle game’s main objective is to fix all the pieces to complete the photograph or model. However, in exit games, players solve different puzzles to open locks and move to the next level. Hence, solving a puzzle game may offer as much challenge as solving escape room riddles.
Puzzle activities engage the brain and help develop cognitive skills such as short-term memory and mental speed. This activity is most recommended for children to foster mental growth. Older players may, however, play puzzles for fun.
11. Scavenger hunt
A scavenger hunt game engages players to search for one or more items using a list of clues. The game may happen indoors or outdoors, in-person or virtually, and participants may compete as teams or individually.
To play scavenger hunts, organizers first make a list of objects to find, then create puzzles or clues to help players identify the required item. For an additional challenge, the items need to be available but unusual objects. Finally, players compete to locate and show the items in the shortest time.
A scavenger hunt is a budget-friendly exercise appropriate for all age groups and teams. Players may choose a theme, for example, based on holidays and seasons. Also, teams can customize the game’s rules for optimum fun and meet the participants’ interests and abilities.
Jenga is a group game where players stack wood blocks to form a tower without toppling that structure. Players remove less-needed blocks on the tower’s lower part and place those blocks on the upper part to add height.
A Jenga game takes the form of a riddle and requires team input to make decisions. Therefore, different teams can choose to play Jenga in a contest. For instance, competing over who builds the highest standing tower in a given time.
The Jenga sets come in various sizes, and hence, players can use small sets indoors and giant sets outdoors. Jenga is suitable for school teams, colleagues and families.
13. The human knot
The human knot is an engaging problem-solving team activity. The game requires members to disentangle themselves without letting go of their grasp.
To play the human knot, participants begin by standing in a circle. Next, all players stretch one hand and hold the first hand a member touches. Then participants repeat the procedure with the second hand and end up having formed the human knot. Finally, players should untwist themselves to make a ring while still holding hands.
The human knot is recommended for teens and adults. Nonetheless, children can still enjoy this game with sufficient adult supervision.
14. Relay races
Relay races are high-level energy games that may include running, sack jumping, and egg and spoon. The races are suitable for outdoor team building making the activity a good alternative for participants with claustrophobia.
To participate in relay races, players should first get a briefing on the game rules. Next, identify the different teams and let the team members organize themselves. Then, issue each group a baton to relay to teammates during the race. Finally, the race begins. The first team to finish the race wins.
Relay races help meet players’ physical fitness needs. These races are fun choices for students and adults. However, the game may limit players with pregnancy, previous sports injury, or medical conditions such as hypertension.
15. Codeword puzzles
Codeword games are word puzzles with no clues except numbers that denote a letter. Each number, 1 to 26, represents a specific letter throughout the board. Players complete codeword puzzles by guessing and matching the numbers with the corresponding letter until each number replaces a letter. To check the progress accuracy, each word formed must be a real term with known meaning and correct spelling.
Codeword puzzles vary in difficulty level to suit players with different language abilities, and players can choose an appropriate challenge. Players with advanced knowledge of a language’s vocabulary find the game fun. However, beginners can try codeword alternatives like sudoku and crosswords.
Trivia are games that involve asking participants a set of questions, and players compete to give the correct answers in the shortest time.
To participate in trivia, players provide answers and earn points for correct responses. Trivia games can be in-person or virtual, and players can use apps like Kahoot!. These apps tally points on the go and can analyze the speed and accuracy of players.
Trivia games are intellectually stimulating games for students and adults.
Jeopardy is a competitive exercise where players earn points by solving entries on the game board. The clues cover various categories of common knowledge topics which players have to answer.
To play Jeopardy, participants pick a question within a category and point value. If the player answers correctly, they earn the amount bid, but wrong answers cost the players a similar amount. Players aim to bid highly on more familiar categories to help them score better earnings.
Jeopardy has medium to high-level intellectual testing and is fun for most adults.
18. Movie night
A movie night is a team bonding activity where members meet to watch selected films. Usually, participants make a collection from each member’s favorite movies and then air the flicks in series.
Remote teams can attend virtual movie nights by logging in to video conference platforms like Microsoft teams. Next, the host streams a movie on a shared screen for members to watch concurrently.
A movie night is a passive activity, unlike escape rooms which actively engage the player’s mind and body. Therefore, entertaining movies help relieve fatigue, especially in team members with physically or mentally demanding duties, such as athletes and financial analysts.
19. 5-Minute Dungeon
5-minute Dungeon is a fast-paced card game where players battle to stay alive. The game tests the players’ wits in a war scenario. After only five minutes, players know the verdict.
Teamwork is of essence to win. To win this game, participants must jointly make prompt decisions and within five minutes, defeat the monsters, overcome obstacles, and evade the dungeon masters.
5-minute Dungeon match is a quick game, and thus, one of the best small team activities for recess between classes or work. This game is suitable for players above eight years old.
Learn more about 5-Minute Dungeon.
20. Coworker Feud
Coworker Feud is a team game where participants compete to mention the most popular responses to the poll questions. The answers should reflect what is common rather than players’ individual opinions.
To participate in this exercise, a moderator first prepares a list of survey questions by searching sources such as the internet. Next, the host lists the five most common answers to each question. The host then asks the same survey questions. The first team to name any of the five answers on the host’s list earns the points for that question.
Coworker Feud can be virtual or in-person. Players can use the chat feature to type in answers or press a buzzer for the opportunity to respond. This game is a fun way to challenge and engage work teams.
21. Real-life mazes
Real-life mazes are among the best virtual escape room alternatives. The maze is made of a complex pattern and may be in the form of a building, snow structure, or a crop like corn. In some instances, mazes have doors or mirrors to create more apparent routes.
The game requires players to find a path through a complex layout. For instance, the goal may be finding the maze’s exit or getting to the center and back. To play mazes, members visit an actual maze and work their way around.
Real-life mazes are fun puzzles for team members to test their sense of direction.
Distanced participants can complete online mazes together instead of wandering through a physical maze.
Escape room alternatives help to bridge the gaps that escape games leave. For example, in a situation where the available games have an unsuitable theme or difficulty level, the game accommodates a limited number of participants, or the rooms are sold out. Thus, the different options offer outdoor or indoor adventure, passive or active exercises, mental or physical challenges, and in-person or virtual participation. Although escape rooms are fun, the alternatives help break the monotony of having to play one kind of game and engage participants.
FAQ: Escape room alternatives
Here are commonly asked questions on escape room alternatives.
What are the best escape room alternatives?
The best escape room alternatives are those that meet different players’ needs. For instance, players who want game variations can try online or virtual reality escape rooms. Players who prefer playing in open spaces can go for puzzles like scavenger hunts, the human knot, and relay races. Passive alternatives like movie night and filling codewords also substitute escape rooms when players need nonstrenuous exercises.
What are some activities that are like escape rooms?
Some similar activities to escape rooms are murder mystery, Werewolf, and puzzle games. These activities share similar themes and require players to solve challenges to advance in the games. Activities like 5-minute Dungeon closely mirror escape rooms since the game has time limits and players aim to escape alive.