Virtual escape rooms are taking over. Virtual escape rooms share a common lineage with point-and-click adventure games from the 90s, and they're growing in popularity as team building and collaborative social games for businesses. Here's our top list of the best virtual escape rooms. You're sure to find something for your team here.
Escape rooms were quickly becoming one of the hottest trends in social experience before the global pandemic shut down vast swaths of in-person events. Even now, as some groups of people go back to normal, physical escape rooms have fallen somewhat out of favor.
Instead, virtual escape rooms are taking over. Virtual escape rooms share a common lineage with point-and-click adventure games from the 90s, and they're growing in popularity as team building and collaborative social games for businesses.
Of course, if you're here, you probably know all that already. You want to know which ones are the good ones, right? Well, here's our top list of the best virtual escape rooms. You're sure to find something for your team here.
You're probably familiar with this one simply because it's on the top of nearly every list. Produced by Outback Team Building, this is one of the most seamless digital team-focused escape rooms on the market today, at least for now.
The premise is simple: someone stole a bunch of jewels, and you have to investigate to find them. They have an interactive interface for the room and an event host to guide the experience. Plus, it's suitable for teams of all sizes, so it can work equally well for a small startup or a major brand.
Outback also offers a range of other team building games, including variations of Clue, Trivial Pursuit, Code Breaker, and Jeopardy. Only the one escape room, though.
Escape Experience is a company based out of Chattanooga, offering live-hosted virtual escape experiences. Essentially, they have a trained guide controlling a first-person video game avatar, working with your team to complete an escape room scenario.
The company offers several events, including:
These are among the more sophisticated escape games out there, though they do require scheduling to work with the provider for a guided experience since they're the ones who control and stream the "room" feed.
The Escape Game is another company producing escape-style events, both in-person and virtual. They have several virtual offerings, including a game show, a prison break, and the space race. More importantly, they have two things going for them.
First is flexibility. They have guided escape experiences using their actual in-store event spaces, but they also offer remote video games that can be saved and continued later, and even buy-and-play board game style escape events.
Second is their monthly mystery games. These games are short and not too complex, but they change out every month, and, more importantly, they're free to play. You can view the current monthly selection here.
TeamBonding is an established company providing team building events, primarily in-person, but they have established a variety of hybrid and online events over the last two years. In addition to a wide range of digital social games and icebreakers, they also have a handful of escape experiences. These experiences include Rogue Agent, Escape the Blizzard, and Escape the Virtual Mob, among others.
Unlike many of the other escape rooms you can find online, these generally have a brief introduction from an event facilitator, after which your team is left to their own devices to solve the games and complete their objectives. They use apps but are not fully guided like many other experiences, which makes them a more flexible option.
TeamBonders provides this as one of their virtual team building experiences. While they offer over a dozen different team building events, this is the only one that can be classified as a fully virtual escape room. It's essentially an escalating series of mind-bending puzzles, which your team is tasked with solving so they can save the company.
TeamBonders also has a variety of hybrid and in-person escape experiences, some of which can be performed in as simple an environment as a hotel room, with a guided moderator who sets it up beforehand.
Interactive is another company producing mostly in-person team building and social events, which has produced a handful of virtual experiences due to the pandemic. Many of their events are simple trivia contests and other icebreaker-style games, but a few of them are more elaborate escape experiences.
All of these experiences function in groups of 12 employees, and up to three groups at a time (for 36 total employees). They use a "virtual" environment with 360-degree control and have a live moderator to guide and encourage the game. They, like most escape events, last about 60 minutes max.
Paruzal is a couple who love escape rooms and, having experienced a ton of them, decided to get into designing them. They've put together thirteen different escape rooms (so far!) and use Zoom with a live-guided experience to play them for you.
Most escape events range from 45 to 75 minutes, with leaderboards maintained on the website for team names and notable performances, both for teams that needed hints and those who didn't.
PALACESPHERE is the online wing of Palace Games, a company operating out of the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts, offering in-person escape rooms. Their online wing offers three "escape palaces," themed after gemstones; the Emerald, Sapphire, and Ruby Palaces. Games can be run for as many players as you want, though they cap individual teams in the 2-6 player range.
They're fully digital, self-led, and the company offers a comprehensive back-end management interface for those who need to organize large groups of people throughout the games.
The Grimm Escape is a spinoff of another game by the same name, produced by the same company. Puzzle Break Long Island is a Long Island-based escape room company offering over a dozen different escape rooms. One of those escape rooms is an enchanted forest, witches curse, escape the magic event loosely based on Grimm's Fairy Tales. As a nod to Covid, when they closed their facility for the pandemic, they produced a variation of this room as a digital experience. As they note on the page; this is different from the in-person version, so if you happen to have played that one before, this one is still new.
Performed via Zoom with a moderator, this is a fairly typical escape room experience. Unfortunately, once you've solved it, there's nothing else this company offers for virtual escape rooms.
This is an interesting, amateur escape game experience. It's different from the mold in many ways. First and foremost, it's essentially just a single live moderator, a bunch of props, and a narrative, which you work through over a Zoom call. It's almost more like a pen and paper game than it is an escape room, in a way.
Second is the innovative – and perhaps a little off-putting – payment model. The creator of the games operates almost entirely through Patreon, where you subscribe for a monthly payment. A new game is produced every month, and the moderator runs it for any team currently subscribed. The games are almost entirely contained within the Zoom call, though they do use some external websites and images for some portions of the games.
Despite the name, the escape events offered by this company are not so wildly different from the rest of the list. They divide theirs into two groups; the virtual and the online escape rooms.
Virtual escape rooms are guided, while the online experiences are self-managed. The most unique item on the menu at Wildly Different is their custom escape room, which they can design specifically for your company and team. It's not entirely custom – it's mostly a fixed selection of puzzles and themes with some custom branding layered on, like a white label product – but it's still interesting.
This set of escape games is handled entirely in a self-guided way. You purchase a code, which works for a single run-through any time in the next year, for teams of 3-5 people. As a virtual experience, it uses a webpage-based event system and your own choice of screen-sharing tech, including Zoom, Skype, Teams, Discord, or whatever else you use.
There are several different games offered by this company, all of which have their own websites, LLCs to manage them, and marketing copy. They include Black Noir (a gritty NYC gangster murder mystery), Lost in the Arctic (a standard frozen wasteland survival), and Modern Genius, a sci-fi mystery. There may be more, but the company has no central page and does not link them together.
This is a company based in Los Angeles running primarily physical, in-person escape rooms. They have a handful of virtual experiences, though spaces are limited, so you have to book well in advance.
They offer a lot of variation between team sizes and complexity though, and if we ever get back to in-person events, they have some very compelling VR escape rooms as well.
This company has been featured on the U.K. version of Shark Tank, called Dragon's Den. They offer nine different virtual escape rooms for varying difficulty levels, designed to take 1-2 hours to complete.
There's no limit to the number of players, but they work best in groups of 2-8, so people aren't left out or drowned out in the talking.
Offering eight different virtual escape rooms, Lockbox is another escape room company that started life as a physical escape room, only to transition to online offerings due to the pandemic. Their escape rooms are moderated and guided, so you need to book a time slot for your team.
There are, of course, dozens of other companies offering similar services. We've curated as robust a selection as we can to show you what's out there, but the internet abounds with a variety of other options as well. There's no end to them if your team enjoys trying to escape and solving puzzles along the way.
One interesting aspect of all of the above escape rooms is how they approach game design from a team building perspective, and the game aspects play second fiddle. There's an entire other end of the spectrum: video games designed as mysteries or escape puzzles. The link above takes you to a curator's list of reviews for various escape games.
There are pros and cons to using these. For one thing, the majority of them are "single-player" games. Of course, this is fairly similar to a number of other escape games on this list, which have one team leader streaming to a video chat group. You can simply do the same with these. They're all self-guided or game-guided with no live moderators or hints other than what's built into the games. And, of course, you need a Steam account to buy and play them.
Some companies may find this option compelling. Others don't want the overhead, management, or need to have a company Steam account. Either way, it's an option you might consider.
One thing virtually all of these escape games are missing is refreshments. In a real escape room, you can go out for a meal or drinks afterward to celebrate your victory as a team. With a virtual escape room, you can't. Or can you?
By using our service, you can organize pizza deliveries for everyone, to be scheduled either before or after the escape event, and reward everyone for a job well done. Why not give it a look?
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