Escape Room Theming

What is an Escape Game?

An Escape Room is a 60 minute real-life adventure game.

Teams are locked in a themed room with one hour to complete their mission and “escape” the room by finding hidden clues and solving challenging puzzles throughout the room before the time runs out.


How did the phenomenon start?

The first real Escape Game was developed in 2008 by Japanese entrepreneur Takao Kato.  He said “I was wondering why interesting things didn’t happen in my life like they did in books.  I thoughts I could create my own adventure story and then invite people to be a part of it”

Christmas Character Creation

Within 10 years the phenomenon has grown rapidly with 8000 escape game companies in the world including 1000 rooms in the UK with players employing teamwork, communication, and delegation as well as critical thinking, attention to detail, and lateral thinking to solve the puzzles and the thrill of doing it against the clock.

Why are there so many games? because escape games are proving to be big business.  The first game opened in the US cost $7000 to build now grosses $600,000pa.  It is estimated there are now between is between 50 – 60,000 games worldwide with entrepreneurs reporting paying off the cost of launching their first venue within a year and 59% of escape game owners reported to be planning to expand within a year.

What makes a good game:

Good games offer a sense of mystery, adventure, and irresistible challenges.  Getting the right mix of theme and game play is key, attention to detail plays a huge part plus ensuring every player has a great time whilst playing.


Stories, character creation and back story draws people in and allows them to feel invested in the story, finding the next clue becomes so much more important when you know why the clue was left in the first place.

A great puzzle sequence:

Puzzles that make sense, are fun, challenging but not so hard it ruins the fun element of playing.  Finding the right balance between challenge and guidance with most games having multiple puzzles that can be worked on at the same time, depending on the number of players.

Immersive, engaging themes:

Choosing a great theme is key, a theme that will encourage your players to really get into the game and let their imaginations run wild, pretend and get into the theme.

Getting the theme right involves research to ensure you know what you are aiming to create, finding the right props, furniture, decoration, and fine detail pieces that will really make your players feel like they have stepped into a different time, land or zone.


Popular Themes

Top four themes:

  • Mystery
  • Science/Laboratory  
  • Fantasy
  • Horror  


Other popular themes:

  • Modern Era (2000 – current day)             
  • Specific place and time (1900 – 2000)   
  • Specific place and time (1700 – 1900)     
  • Prison     
  • Abstract/no specific theme         
  • Future/Technological
  • Military
  • Toy Room          
  • Cartoon/Anime 
  • School
  • Steampunk         
  • Crime
  • Seasonal (Christmas, Halloween, Easter etc)

Escape Game Theming Gallery:

From Mexican sunsets to rabbit holes, haunted houses, UV reactive sets and even themed toilets, check out the gallery for some of our previous work.


Revealer Clues & Special Effects

Trigger the right puzzle piece and see the next clue appear right before your very eyes.

To create this effect we use a special ultraviolet (UV) reactive paint that dry clear and only reacts under UV light, whether that be UV strip lights, strobe, fading, fairy lights or even small uv bulbs inside a handheld lantern.

Escape Room Revealer Clues
Escape Room Special Effects
Escape Room Special Effects
Escape Room Special Effects
Escape Room Special Effects
Escape Room Props

Bespoke Props

Above – 3 generations of a cannibal family – airbrushed portraits framed in old burnt wood surrounds.

Side – Wonderland map showing distance clues.  This has light up push buttons installed to allow the player to get to right sequence to complete the puzzle.

Below Centre – Stretching portraits.  The bottom half of the picture slowly reveals itself as the frame is triggered and lowers itself to reveal the bottom half of the picture and hidden clues.

Escape Room Props
Escape Room Props
Escape Room Props
Escape Room Theming
Escape Room Props

The Future of Escape Games

As the popularity of Escape Games grows players are wanting more challenging games.  With a little creativity the future of escape rooms is limitless with companies bringing in new and unexpected challenges that makes gameplay more rewarding.

Harder gameplay allows players a new thrill and more satisfaction when they escape.  In some cases the puzzles and clues are the same but with the addition of a zombie or chainsaw wielding killer your concentration goes right out of the window, the adrenaline kicks in and voila the game is instantly more challenging, thrilling and memorable.

 Gone are the days when you would just be locked in a decorated room with keys, padlocks and clues on paper… the future is immersive!

UV Special Effects


Artifex Designs specialises in:

  • Room design
  • Theming
  • Murals and Bespoke Artwork
  • Prop sourcing
  • Bespoke Prop Making
  • Revealer special effects

We work closely with a diverse team of specialists in their fields providing:

Technical services, specialist lighting, audio systems, safety control systems, special effects, technicians, game tech, electrics, special effects, sound effects, mist, fog etc

Complex bespoke game design and builders, costume, prop makers, carpenters and builders.

Additional services you may find of interest: