You’ve just walked into your first escape room.  As you look around, you notice the large objects first.  Things you can grab with your hands, large pictures on the walls, puzzles surround you!  It’s very overwhelming!

Further inspection reveals another layer of detail – smaller clues abound!

There’s so much to see!

But the truth is, it’s not how much you see, it’s what you see!

Look at the beautiful artwork on the wall.  The frame is pretty, durable, and goes well with the picture.  The picture is normal in all aspects.  Not large, not small, just kind of average.  It’s an image of a tree in silhouette with many limbs and large leaves.  Nothing about it says, “Hey look! A clue!”

You look closer and still see nothing.  Your escape room guide told you that everything in the room is in there for a reason so you keep staring at this mundane looking tree.  You’re getting frustrated because you just know there’s something there.  Stupid tree!  What are you trying to tell me!

You eventually back away from the tree.  Then it hits you!  You were standing so close you missed the big detail!  The tree limbs are divided into groups that clearly depict a 4 number combination!  It was right there the whole time!

Escape rooms are all about the subtle clues.  Sure, some will hit you in the face.  Some escape rooms are scavenger hunts where everything leads to something.  Others though, play on those tiny little clues, the hidden but right in your face kind that make you smack your forehead when your guide gives you the clue because it was right there, right there in front of you the entire time.

So remember, don’t sweat the big stuff, but look instead for the tiny details, the hidden aspects of the design, the not-so-obvious but in your face stuff.  It could be the key to getting you out in the time frame allotted.

Extra points for those of you that caught the word subtle hidden in the first letters of the page title!