31 Best Escape Room Ideas for 2023: Themes & Puzzles

Coming up with unique escape room themes and puzzles can be difficult. A balance needs to be made so that the game is challenging but also fun, because an escape room that’s too boring or too easy, just isn’t worth anyone’s time.


free escape room ideas themes and puzzles

It’s tempting to reuse puzzles and go blank when it’s time to build out a theme for your room. No gamemaster is immune to this frustration, myself included. So, I know how valuable it can be to have a list of escape room ideas that can be used as a starting-off point.

Below are some thoughts to get your creative juices flowing. But as always, you’re more than welcome to contact me for specific help. You can also download some games premade and ready to go, over at my Etsy shop.

Theme Ideas for Escape Rooms

Dr. Dracula

You and your team were not feeling well, so you went to see Dr. Dracula. While sitting in his office, you start to wonder, maybe the doctor really is a vampire. He’s beginning to realize you have figured out his secret, and has ran out of the room and locked you inside. You must find the key to escape, and proof of his true identity.

  • You can have your players find a set of fake vampire teeth in the final box, along with a key to the final lock.
  • Set out items that you’d find in a doctor’s office, like hand sanitizer, gloves, tongue depressors, lollipops, etc.
  • Create puzzles that lead to these words: bite, death, crypt, fang, vamp, etc.

Haunted Bedroom

You and your team were called in by a relative because they think their house is possessed. Their daughter recently found an imaginary friend that seems more demon than friend. You must find the item in her bedroom that is possessed, and remove it to escape.

  • This item can be anything from costume jewelry to a stuffed animal or a doll.
  • Set this room in the dark, and use blacklight puzzles.
  • Have a creepy diary that holds more information on the storyline along with clues to puzzles.

Princess’ Ring

The prince is planning on proposing to the princess, but he’s lost the ring somewhere in this room. He’s managed to distract the princess while you search the room. You have 1 hour until she gets back.

  • The last item you find is a very fancy ring or ring box.
  • Set out lots of flowers and pink items (anything girly, really).
  • Make a Page-Line-Word puzzle in a Disney book.
  • If they are real Disney experts, have some movie trivia in there as well!

Sid’s Room

Sid stole Woody and Buzz again! You need to get them back before Sid gets back from school today.

  • Have a Woody and Buzz figurine for them to find at the end.
  • Set out lots of broken toys and fake weapons, like a dart board, swords, chains, headless Barbies, etc.
  • Write a number code on the bottom of a skateboard in Pigpen cipher.

Other Ideas

  • Save Christmas—Santa needs your help—find the candy canes
  • Bachelorette party—the morning after—find the ring
  • July 4th—the best year yet—steal the big firework
  • Zombie apocalypse—save your family—find the antidote
  • Batman & Riddler—save Gotham—solve his riddles
  • Mad scientist—stop the virus—find the cure
  • Jailbreak—prove your innocence—find the key
  • Crime detective—investigate a murder—find the killer’s identity

Escape Room Backstory Ideas

  • Deep beneath the streets of a bustling city lies an old, abandoned subway station. Legend has it that it was once used as a secret laboratory by a mad scientist who conducted gruesome experiments on unsuspecting victims. Decades later, a group of urban explorers stumbled upon the station and decided to turn it into an escape room. However, strange occurrences began happening to those who entered the room, leading them to believe that the scientist’s ghost still haunts the space. Can you solve the puzzles and escape before the ghost catches up to you?
  • You and your friends have been invited to a luxurious mansion for a weekend getaway. However, upon arrival, you realize that the host has locked you inside and left you a cryptic message: “The only way out is through.” You soon discover that the mansion is filled with puzzles and riddles that you must solve in order to unlock the doors and escape. But be warned – the clock is ticking, and you only have 60 minutes before the mansion’s security system seals all the exits for good.
  • You and your team are part of a group of archaeologists who have discovered an ancient tomb filled with priceless artifacts. However, as soon as you enter, the door slams shut behind you, and you realize that the tomb is rigged with deadly traps. You must decipher ancient hieroglyphics and solve puzzles in order to escape before the traps are triggered and you meet the same fate as the tomb’s original inhabitants.
  • You wake up in a mysterious laboratory with no memory of how you got there. The lab is filled with strange machines and experiments, and you soon realize that you are not alone. You and your team must work together to solve puzzles and uncover the truth about your captivity before the mad scientist who runs the lab returns.
  • You and your group are a team of detectives investigating a string of unsolved murders in a small town. You receive a tip that the killer is hiding in an abandoned asylum on the outskirts of town. When you arrive, you find that the asylum is filled with clues and puzzles that will lead you to the killer’s identity. However, time is running out – the killer is on the loose, and you must solve the puzzles and escape before they catch you.
  • You and your team are adventurers exploring a cursed temple in the heart of the jungle. Legend has it that anyone who enters the temple will be cursed forever unless they find a way to escape before the curse takes hold. You must solve puzzles and decipher ancient symbols to escape before it’s too late.
  • You and your team have been kidnapped by a group of pirates and are being held captive on their ship. They plan to ransom you off to the highest bidder, but you have other plans. You must outsmart the pirates by solving puzzles and finding a way to escape the ship before they catch you.
  • You and your team are astronauts on a space mission that has gone horribly wrong. Your ship has been damaged, and you must find a way to fix it before it’s too late. But the ship is filled with puzzles and obstacles that must be overcome before you can make repairs and return to Earth.
  • You and your team are survivors of a plane crash and have found yourselves stranded on a deserted island. Your only hope of rescue is a small boat on the other side of the island, but it’s locked up tight. You must work together to solve puzzles and find a way to unlock the boat before your food and water run out.
  • You and your team are members of a secret society tasked with protecting a valuable artifact from falling into the wrong hands. However, the artifact has been stolen and is being held in a secure location by a rival society. You must break into their headquarters, solve puzzles, and retrieve the artifact before it’s too late.

Puzzle Ideas for Escape Rooms

A1 Quilt Puzzle

Each square includes images that represent a letter of the alphabet, with some repeats. Give the players various grid points, such as D3 (if C is your starting letter) and so on, to have them decipher the squares and end up with the answer you want them to find.

Animal Anagram

Find all four animals and the resulting anagram from the first letters.



‘Friends’ Directions

Find which person the phrase applies to. Works with directional locks like this one.



Fruit of the Spirit

Color in the Biblical ‘fruit of the spirit’ words to reveal the answer, which can go to a lock like this one.

Just remember to make sure you change out the set to support the answer below.



Maid Instructions

A list of directions for a maid that correspond to a directional lock.



Math Game

I call this one the “Number of the Day” math game because it’s built for someone’s 18th birthday party. Color in the squares that equal 18 to reveal the answer.



St. Patrick’s Day Lucky Path

Complete the path from START to END, and then use the directions to complete a directional lock.



Songs and Bands

Use the Song column to identify the band who sings those lyrics. Then, use the Band column to identify that letter position in the band name.

Once solved, this puzzle points to something specific, in this case, a physical DVD in the room.


NAUSICAA (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind)

For example, the first song goes to a Maroon 5 song, so the sixth letter in that band name is N; the second is a Carly Rae Jepson song (A), etc.

5-Letter Word Game

Using these words, answer the prompts with the letter proceeding the correct word. Some words will not be used at all, and others will be used multiple times.