Solution: Escape!


Authors: Shuxin Zhan, Alison Chang

Dev: Shuxin Zhan

This puzzle includes 5 escape rooms, each of which solves to two answers. When you find 1, the gamemaster implies that there is more to the room.

The first answer comes from a series of 5 ciphers that appear across all the rooms. These are clued by the names of the 5 rooms.

Room NameCipher Clued by NameObject
Prison Break: "Chain of Death"Chain of Death (Maxwell Grant)Clocks
Knights Templar’s CastleKnights TemplarFlags (flipped)
Maya TombMaya NumeralsShelves
Dr. Pig Pen’s Science LabPig PenCorkboard
Dancing Man OverboardDancing ManStick figure

When you take the letters from the 5 objects in each room (going clockwise), you get the following:

  • Prison Break: "Chain of Death": SMALL
  • Knights Templar’s Castle: ADAMS
  • Maya Tomb: LENDS
  • Dr. Pig Pen’s Science Lab: SANTA
  • Dancing Man Overboard: ROYAL

The second answer requires discovering interactivity between the rooms. While you cannot transport items directly between rooms via your inventory, the frazzled gamemaster does not remember to empty out the personal items bin, allowing solvers to sneak items into other rooms. The general interactions and solutions are as follows:

Prison Break: "Chain of Death"

  • Open 4 bottles in the pirate ship to get 4 guard pictures.
  • Use the staff from the Maya room to get a prison key, which gets you the pillow case. Wipe off the badges in the science lab.
  • Use the pictures and badges to answer the 6 security questions.
  • Each guard has a 6 letter name and exactly 2 "true" answers. Indexing into the guard name in guard # order yields OPPOSITE.

Knights Templar’s Castle

  • Using the 4 bottles from the pirate ship, fetch 4 elements from the various rooms: air from the prison air duct, water from the pirate ship barrel, fire from the lab, and dirt from the Maya floor (after using the flashlight/brush).
  • If you place these 4 bottles in the correct configuration (as clued by the triangles), you will reveal a cryptogram puzzle. Two letters’ values are given to you on the shield.
  • Solving this reveals the word FRUIT.

Maya Tomb

  • A circular slab in the pirate ship mentions "long count."
  • If you use the flashlight (from the prison) and brush (from the pirate ship) in the Maya room, you reveal 3 images on the walls.
  • Each image refers to an important event in history, with 1 piece of the date missing: the signing of the NATO treaty (April 4, 1949), the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars (August 6, 2012), and the 7:1 2014 FIFA World Cup game between Germany and Brazil (July 8, 2014). The Gregorian long count representation of each of these dates appears below the date.
  • Taking this sequence of month, date, and year and slotting it into the final set of blanks, you get April 6, 2014 BC. Converting this into long count, you get Converting this into A1Z26 yields BOOKS.

Dr. Pig Pen’s Science Lab

  • The book in the Knights Templar Castle includes a series of formulas with a target value and a set of operators.
  • If you get the chain from the prison and turn on the computer, you get a sequence of words. These can all be spelled using elements from the periodic table.
  • If you solve all of the math equations, you are told to swap + and -, as well as × and /. Doing this yields integers 16, 19, 53, 16, 22, 6, and 19.
  • Converting this back into letters via periodic element numbers yields SKISTICK, which solves to POLE.

Dancing Man Overboard

  • If you use the science lab acid on the mantlepiece in the knights castle, you can turn the flags around. Each flag has one location.
  • The map and text in the pirate ship clue/mention military time letters. If you look up the time zone for each location (in given flag order) and convert it to its letter suffix, you get FELINE.

The pair of answers for each room form a clue phrase that solve to another answer.

Room NameClue PhraseAnswer
Prison Break: "Chain of Death"SMALL OPPOSITEBIG
Knights Templar’s CastleADAMS FRUITAPPLE
Dr. Pig Pen’s Science LabSANTA POLENORTH
Dancing Man OverboardROYAL FELINELION

These final 5 words then form one last clue phrase, referring to the New York (City) Public Library. Two marble lions sit outside: Patience is south of the main steps, while FORTITUDE sits to the north.

Authors’ Notes

We couldn’t decide what type of escape room to build, so we chose… ALL of them! Granted, that might’ve been too ambitious given our budget… and our staff of a grand total of one game dev.

This puzzle was partially inspired by escape rooms we’ve done together in California and New Orleans. We noticed that many escape rooms have similar themes, and we wanted to build a low-budget escape room game where objects are getting reused across various themes. While the game master is well meaning, in their hurry, they easily misplace items in the wrong rooms and also fail to clear out the personal belongings bin.

We wanted to utilize some less common ciphers, both to convey a "knockoff" vibe and also avoid conflicting with other puzzles in the hunt (since this puzzle was conceived early on in hunt development but ended up being one of the latest implemented due to some unfortunate technical mishaps).

The interface for the game itself was inspired by the Cube Escape series. Shoutout to all the free software and assets we used for this puzzle: