In the pre-lockdown era of leaving the house and interacting with other human beings, escape rooms were gaining popularity as a fun new experience to undertake with your friends. Solving puzzles, working with one of your closest pals was fun time all around. But there’s no need to look back wistfully back at those missed escape-room opportunities; with the power of the internet, these experiences can be had online. Puzzle purists can choose to go on these adventures alone, but many sites also allow you to team up with friends and try to escape their virtual rooms.
Free and Casual Online Escape Rooms
Those looking for a simple and easy way to pass an afternoon can find many free escape room options online.
Hogwarts Digital Escape Room
An experience created by staff at Peters Township Public Library in Pennsylvania, this collection of puzzles is wrapped in the lore of J.K Rowling's immensely successful franchise. While this free online escape room isn’t as immersive as other entries on this list, (it’s made using Google Forms) it does have a decided flavour of the Harry Potter universe, having you wait in your house’s common rooms, attempt well-known spells, using portkeys and generally trying to understand the lives of muggles. This simple puzzle game can be played individually or in competition with your friends and gives players an opportunity to step into the ‘Wizarding World’ while being locked up at home.
Neutral’s Room Escape Games
The Neutral website offers a number of point-and-click flash games that provide an interesting escape room experience. Players must scan the various elements scattered across the screens and use these clues to solve puzzles and break out of the room. Each game has a different difficulty level and theme to keep the experiences unique. Even the lower difficulty games, like RGB prove to be a challenge, requiring players to actively track clues and even take notes in order to solve the puzzles. These flash games capture the spirit of physical escape rooms perfectly.
Paid, Live Rooms
If you're looking for something beyond a casual puzzle to pass the time, there are several live online rooms to take on with your friends over different video-calling platforms too.
Nancy Drew Virtual Escape Room
Explore Forsyth Mansion, a posh English Manor where crime is afoot. Traverse the winding hallways and secret rooms of this estate, all straight from the pages of a Nancy Drew novel. Up to eight players can join in over video conference and attempt to solve the mysteries of the manor, with bookings available on the website. So rally your friends and step into the shoes of one of the most influential female detective to discover what secrets Forsyth Mansion holds within.
The Grimm Escape
Seattle-based escape-artists Puzzle Break have taken their skills online in creating this virtual escape adventure. The Grimm Escape sees players trying to escape a witch’s curse upon an enchanted forest, requiring them to solve a series of puzzles to escape the witch's malevolent spells. An online guide (or Fairy Godparent if you so prefer) sets up the scenario and provides assistance through the adventure and is there to greet you when you begin this virtual adaptation of one of Puzzle Break’s escape rooms. Conducted over Zoom at $25 per person, (a minimum of three players is required) this escape room provides a great way to bond with your friends as you self-isolate at home.
The Supervillain’s Lair
It’s time to don your cape and tights because there are villains wreaking havoc on your town. Team up with your friends to become the defenders of your city in this spin on virtual escape rooms. UK-based escape room company Know Escape brings this and several other escape adventures online to bring friends together to solve a series of puzzles and protect the innocent civilians of your city. Time slots can be booked on the Know Escape website without a limit on the number of participants, although they recommend capping it at 4 active webcams to ensure there are no issues with bandwidth.