21 Creative Escape Room Themes & Scenarios in 2022

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Escape room themes and scenarios are story elements that draw the players into the game and give the feeling of being part of the experience mentally, psychologically, and even emotionally. The theme often has a backstory that births the scenario for the game. The escape room’s clues and puzzles align with the theme and scenario. Although some escape room players may prefer a basic escape room without themes, these rooms tend to be less entertaining.

These themes are helpful for building DIY escape rooms and for escape game companies to use.

This article contains:

  • Popular escape room themes
  • Escape room scenarios for the classroom
  • DIY escape room themes
  • Scary escape room themes
  • Challenging escape room scenarios

Here we go!

List of escape room themes

Most popular escape rooms often have themes based on blockbuster and pop franchises. Fortunately, escape rooms are highly flexible games, so creators infuse more creativity and difficulty levels to make a unique game. Despite the different themes, the goal of the escape room is to make sure you solve all of your puzzles and break out of the room before the time limit. Here are some of the most popular escape room themes.

1. Treasure Hunt

Many escape rooms follow this theme. Treasure hunt escape rooms are usually family-friendly, and the storylines follow the same pattern. Your task is to discover clues to help you solve your puzzle and point you to the treasure’s location. Like every other escape room, you must find the treasure on time or lose the game, and another group will discover the loot.

2. Prison Breaks

Prison breaks are another popular escape room theme. This premise is a favorite among escape room creators because of its versatility. Game masters can break the scenarios down into multiple scenes. Sometimes, you could be a prisoner who needs to escape the prison, while in other games, you assume the role of an innocent visitor who gets caught in a jailbreak and needs to escape to survive. Either way, your task is finding all your clues and solving your puzzle with your team to escape successfully.

3. Detective Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes was renowned as the greatest detective based on his portrayal by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Escape room creators are taking advantage of this franchise, as most escape room themes are investigations requiring science, observational and deductive skills. If you are a mystery or thriller fan, then you can play the detective, where you and your team get to solve puzzles to uncover a crime or solve the mystery behind an occurrence. Escape room subscription boxes like Sleuth King fall into this category.

4. Bank or Museum Heists

Bank and museum heists are another popular format for escape room themes. The game requires players to steal from an institution. Before participants can commit a successful theft, they must discover clues and unlock different difficulty levels. After finding the clues, players can solve their puzzles and have a successful heist.

5. Find the Antidote or Formula

Escape room scenarios based on this theme are common. The theme often involves a virus or zombie outbreak capable of wiping out the country or entire planet. You and your teammates must find the formula needed to create the antidote, following clues left by the scientists in charge. When you piece together your clues and solve the puzzle, you will find the cure and stop the epidemic.

List of escape room scenarios for classrooms

Escape rooms are currently one of the most popular games, and educational institutions are tapping into their benefits. Escape rooms are often a mix of challenges, teamwork, and problem-solving skills, and teachers apply this creativity to the learning process. Although escape rooms in a classroom are fun, developing the perfect escape room scenarios can be difficult. Here are some excellent escape room scenarios for the classroom to catch your students’ attention:

6. English Busters

You can create an escape room scenario where you incorporate several English topics like figurative languages, literature, and spellings. Then, your students have to look for hints and solve their puzzles to uncover the answer to these hidden English puzzles. For instance, you can base your escape room on a poem and ask your students to solve the riddles.

7. Escape The Tomb

If you teach the Egyptian Pyramids and want to explain this topic to your students creatively, then you can use the Escape The Tomb scenario. In this setting, your students are trapped in the pyramids and have to solve their puzzles to break free. By carefully crafting your puzzles and clues based on what the students have learned about the pyramids, you ensure that the game leaves a lasting impression on them.

8. World War X

If you are searching for a way to introduce history lessons like World Wars to your students, having a World War-themed escape room works wonders. You can create a scenario where students can only win their mission if they discover hidden codes and messages. Students will learn about the American experience and the Home Front in the world war via this content-driven Escape Room. Students will also understand the world war more deeply from the included video, maps, and texts.

DIY Escape Room Themes

If you are looking to recreate an escape room at home or your next event, then there are a variety of DIY escape room themes you can try. The result depends on which storyline or backstory resonates with you the most. Here are some simple DIY escape room themes you can choose to recreate.

9. Escape or Break Outs

Escape themes are one of the most popular when it comes to escape rooms. These themes follow a plot where players try to escape from a bad situation or the antagonist. Popular escape scenarios include prisons, caves, and haunted houses. Examples of escape themes include prison breaks,  zombies, or serial killers. Most escape themes may even have a fake actor who will appear from time to time to scare the players and increase the adrenaline.

10. Investigative Themes

Another popular DIY escape room theme is investigative themes. Players are to act as investigators and solve their puzzles to uncover a crime. Sometimes, the players may have to solve their puzzles on time or risk becoming the next victim on the criminal’s list. Examples of investigative games include Sherlock Holmes and Mob Boss.

11. Bank or Museum Heist

You and your friends will act like thieves and break into a bank or museum to steal their most prized or heavily guarded possessions. Players navigate through clues and puzzles to discover the location of the prize and successfully carry out a raid within the specified time.

12. Rescue Missions

With rescue missions, players are responsible for rescuing a character from a perceived threat. Players piece together clues and hints to discover the kidnapper and their hiding place. You will locate and save the missing person when you complete your puzzle.

13. Bomb Defusing

An interesting DIY escape room theme requires players to defuse a ‘bomb’ within a limited time. You have to work through clues and codes to defuse the bomb successfully. If you solve your puzzles correctly, then the bomb defuses. If your team cannot solve their puzzle within the specified time, then the bomb explodes.

5 Scary Escape Room Themes

Some of the best escape rooms are horror-themed. Many players like to experience the fear factor and adrenaline rush. Scary escape room themes are the perfect way to create that atmosphere. Some escape room facilitators even employ actors at strategic points in the game to scare the players and give the game a more realistic feel. If you are a fan of horror-themed escape rooms, then here are some scary escape room themes:

14. SAW

One of the scariest escape room themes comes from the SAW movie franchise. You should try out a SAW-themed escape room if you are a horror movie fan. The game requires you to solve your puzzles before the time is up to avoid getting tortured. You experience the thrill and horror of escaping the jigsaw killer without the actual gore and pain.

15. The Asylum

The Asylum is another scary escape room theme. Although the storyline develops into individual scenarios, the theme involves a reporter or detective who visits an asylum for investigation purposes and does not return. You must gather enough clues to solve your puzzle to find them. As the name of the theme suggests, you may have to deal with crazy patients and horrific sights along the line of solving your puzzle.

16. The Haunted House

Based on supernatural themes, haunted houses or rooms are one of the scariest yet most popular escape rooms to play. Several haunted houses have storylines that revolve around individuals who move into a new house cursed by an evil spirit. You will search for clues to solve your puzzle as your life depends on it. If you cannot solve your puzzle before the time is up, then you will be possessed by the evil spirit.

17. The Basement

If you are looking for a scary escape room theme that will have your hair on end, then consider playing The Basement-themed games. The game often consists of players trying to escape a crazed serial killer who kidnaps and locks them up in his basement. You have an hour to break out of the basement, and the only way is by successfully passing the difficulty levels and breaking out safely.

18. Boogeyman

In this horror escape room theme, you and your teammates must play investigators who must find missing children taken by the boogeyman. You must pass through different scary levels to be able to find the kids. Some escape room facilitators may add a twist where the hunters become the hunted. In this case, you need to solve your puzzle before the time is up to save the children and yourself.

3 Challenging Escape Room Scenarios

Every escape room has different scenarios. Each scenario is usually in sync with the theme and may divide into different stages or difficulty levels. While these scenarios may differ, there are ways to increase the challenges of these scenarios. Some challenging escape room scenarios include the following.

19. Object Discovery

Hiding objects in any escape room are one of the most challenging scenarios. However, several times, these hidden objects often contain clues and hints to solve the puzzle. Therefore, many escape room creators take time to hide these objects so that players can collaborate and find them faster.

20. Lightings or Backlights

Most escape room scenarios involving lighting are often challenging. If you received backlights at the start of the game, then that may be your cue to know that the game would be trickier than you imagined. A tip to solving escape room scenarios involving lights includes using your backlight on every surface in the room. In addition, you should pay attention to the brightness level of the lights. If you notice any shining more or less brightly at a particular point, then there might be a hidden clue nearby.

21. Riddles

Any escape room scenario involving riddles is bound to be quite challenging. Riddles are naturally challenging. You need logical and deductive skills to carefully analyze each word and find the answers to the riddle. You can use ancient or philosophical riddles that sync with your theme to up the challenge level of your escape room scenario.

Tips for organizing the perfect escape room scenarios for the classroom

Some pointers for creating escape room for classrooms include:

1. Keep it simple

Although escape room scenarios for classrooms try to simulate the feel of an actual escape room, you should keep gameplay simple. The scenarios do not need to appear as fancy as a real-life escape room experience. For example, you do not necessarily need to lock your students in the classroom. A locked box could be the ultimate test, where students have to solve puzzles to unlock the box. You can work with simple locks, DIY props, glossy papers for clues, and puzzles to create an escape room scenario. Escape room kits are also available if you want to save time.

2. Organize your students into groups

Be sure to choose how many teams can play the game depending on the size of your classroom and its students. For instance, you can group students into three groups and decide which team solves which puzzle. Organizing your students makes for a more successful game, especially as you get to start and finish before the time is up. Before starting the game, take the time to explain the escape room’s theme, scenarios, and rules to your students in the most straightforward manner.

3. Keep the puzzles easy

To ensure your students enjoy the game, try to provide easy-to-solve puzzles. If the puzzles are too complicated, then the students may become agitated and lose touch with the main idea of learning new information. Whether the background of your escape room scenario is history or mathematics lessons, ensure the puzzles provide answers in line with the day’s topic.

4. Remember to have fun

Although the purpose of escape room scenarios for the classroom is to teach a lesson, the surest way to achieve this goal is to have fun. Like every other human, students hardly forget the fun and memorable experiences. Therefore, when your escape room scenarios for the classroom are exciting, your students will eagerly engage in the game.

Tips to Organize a DIY Escape Room Theme

If you are trying to have a DIY Escape Room theme, consider the following tips:

  • Some clues you create should contain instructions on what the players should do next.
  • Balloons, wardrobes, book pages, drawers, and even carpets are great places to hide your clues. However, make sure to set strategic clues that point to these areas. You do not want your players searching around aimlessly.
  • Not all of your clues should appear like a clue. For example, you can employ funky drawings or seemingly ordinary words to confuse your players slightly.
  • You can choose to hide locks and keys in plain sight yet professionally disguised so that the players have to spend time looking for them.
  • You can use an escape room kit to create your DIY escape room theme.

An easy way to organize a DIY escape room theme is to choose the most suitable theme and create clues and puzzles accordingly.


Escape room themes and scenarios are the spice of escape rooms since the game would be less entertaining without them. You can find several escape room themes and scenarios to suit your purpose. Whether you are having the event in the classroom, at home, or events, you can hardly run out of intriguing themes and scenarios for your next escape room.

Next, check out this list of tips for solving escape room games, and these escape room best practices.

FAQ: Escape room themes and scenarios

Here are some frequently asked questions about escape themes and scenarios.

What are some good themes for escape rooms?

Some good themes for escape rooms include bank and museum heists, treasure hunts, detective games, zombie apocalypse, haunted rooms, and rescue missions.

How do you choose a theme for an escape room?

You should choose a theme for an escape room based on an intriguing storyline, intended audience, the age range of players, type of event, and difficulty level.

What are some examples of escape room scenarios?

Some examples of escape room scenarios include museums, banks, archaeological caves, haunted houses and manors, laboratories, and murder scenes.