Escape Room Themes
Most escape rooms will have a theme or backstory to go with the mystery. It isn't necessary, and some pure puzzle solvers even prefer it. However most people prefer, and most escape rooms provide a basic theme. The theme is created by the decorations, music and lighting; plus the clues, puzzles and riddles themselves follow the theme of the room.
In addition to a theme, an escape room may have a storyline integrated into the play. In some cases the participants themselves are given a loose script or role to play like an actor in a play. The role compliments the theme and ads to the fun and immersion of the experience.
If there is a backstory it will be presented by the gamemaster at the beginning of the session. He/she will read the story and attempt to draw you into the setting emotionally. The scenario you join becomes part of the experience, in addition to solving the puzzles and mysteries of the room.
Common Esape Room Themes
Basic Escape the Room. The basic version has no theme at all. It is a puzzle to solve without the distraction and ambiance of a theme. Some people prefer this to the highly themed and storied versions, but for the most part the more themed and entertainin they are the more the general public will enjoy them. The purist puzzle solver plays escape room games for the challenge.
Escape from a Bad Situation. The situation could be anything "life-threatening" (in quotes) of course there is no actual threat. Themes or scenarios range from the Zombie threat, axe murders, infamous historical villians, or a regional or locally known serial killer; and he's stalking your team! Other "bad situation" scenarios might involve caves, dungeons, halloween themes/ supernatural, etc. Escape room operators may add "scare actors" in full costume to enhance the scare factor. They may appear behind a window visible to your team, or on a monitor which shows a simulated outside entrance. Your team will have a limited amount of time to solve the room's mystery and escape or
Investigate a Crime. This theme places you and your team as the investigators at a crime scene. The investigators (you) must discover the circumstances of the crime or murder in the specified amount of time, or risk becoming the next victim. There may be false clues and witness statements may be incomplete, and witness statements may not agree with each other. All the clues to discover the real perpetrator wait to be discovered by you and your team.
Solve a Mystery. Similar to solving a crime mystery, but distinct in that the mystery can be any unsolved mystery. Each mystery room is decorated according with articles and items related to the theme of the mystery. The room holds clues which lead to solving the mystery escape. Clues lead to information or in some cases, other puzzles needed to solve the mystery.
Defuse a Bomb. You and your team are trapped in a room, and to make matters worse, there's a bomb! Figure out how to difuse the bomb by solving puzzles to get codes. If the codes are entered correctly the bomb is difused. This type of escape requires the ability to keep your cool under pressure while using reasoning, logic and teamwork. Of course there is no actual bomb, but the scenario and props make it seem real and creates an added dimention to solving the puzzle: Solve it in time or get blown to smithereens.
Spy or Espionage. This could be a corporate espionage or military scenario. You and your spy friends receive your mission. Break in, steal a particular secret then break back out. The feeling you get in a theme like this is totally different from a thread or mystery escape. You are left to figure out how to get in, steel your secret, then get back out without getting caught.
Find a Missing Person. It's your job to search through the clues and figure out what happened to a particular person. The missing person could be a damsel in distress, or an important political figure, or anything in between.
Find a Cure/ Solve a Formula. A virus has been released in to the population, or is about to be released. Your job is to find the cure from the clues left behind by the sinister scientist who created it.
Rescue Mission. You will be rescuing someone from a threatening situation. These scenarios range from a young girl, to special agents and military rescues. They all have the common thread that clues can be found by searching through items left behind at the last known position, or from "intel" delivered to your location.