7 Cerebral Video Games to Play If You Like Escape Rooms

Maybe you can’t get out there and experience the best escape rooms in the world. Thankfully, video games can help!

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There’s nothing like the satisfaction of doing something in real life. However, getting out there in the real world isn’t always possible.

This is especially true with escape rooms. You need to gather a group of friends, find a place you haven’t been yet, book the room, spend a good chunk of cash, and drive to wherever the room is. Depending on where you live, there might not even be an escape room available within a reasonable driving distance!

Thankfully, video games can help here. They can deliver interesting experiences that’ll see you solving difficult and complex puzzles in an attempt to progress through the game. Of course, not all games let you solve problems with puzzles—lots of games see you using a gun as your primary means of “escape,” but cerebral games that give you that escape room feel are out there.

1. Resident Evil 2

While the core of the Resident Evil games is all about trying to survive in a world infested with zombies, the underlying mechanics frequently involve complex puzzles. Just like in an escape room, you’ll be searching for hidden objects that’ll help you get access to different parts of the world. With the re-release of Resident Evil 2 blowing critics away, now is the perfect time to jump into the series.

2. The Room VR: A Dark Matter

The Room is literally a game where you solves a bunch of puzzle boxes in order to advance through the game. It’s about as close as you’re going to get to actually living out the complex mechanics offered by escape rooms without actually going anywhere. The puzzles escalate in difficulty as you move through the game, which makes for quite the satisfying experience.

But the one you want is the VR edition, which kicks the immersion up several notches. It’s the closest you’ll get to an actual escape room experience without actually going to an escape room (important during these pandemic times).

3. Zero Escape: The Nonary Games

There are three games in the Zero Escape series: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors; Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward; and Zero Time Dilemma. Each of the three games is part visual novel, part puzzle game. In some sections of the game, you’ll be progressing through the story, and then you’ll enter the “escape” part of the game where you’re solving deep puzzles to get through escape-the-room scenarios.

The Nonary Games is a bundle that includes updated versions of the first two games in the series, and is a great starting point for anyone who’s new!

4. realMyst: Masterpiece Edition

You could argue that Myst is the godfather of escape room-like video games. It features a wide range of puzzles that see the player using various objects in order to get from one room to the next. It’s an older game, having released in 1993 originally. Thankfully, the game has been released again on various platforms over the years, including realMyst: Masterpiece Edition, which came out in 2014.

5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

A huge part of the gameplay in The Legend of Zelda is about solving puzzles to get into new parts of the world. You might see a door that can’t be opened at this time. However, you’ll eventually find an item, for example, a boomerang, that’ll let you get into the area later on. That’s a lot like escape rooms. You walk into the room and see that there’s an object, but you can’t use it unless you find another one that interacts with it.

6. Monument Valley 2

Monument Valley offers some escape room-like mechanics, though it’s a bit more surreal. Still, if you enjoy the way escape rooms make you think outside the box, you’ll enjoy the gameplay offered in both Monument Valley games. Basically, you’ll be manipulating the world in order to guide the princess to higher platforms, which is a lot like guiding your group through the challenges and puzzles in a real escape room!

The sequel is more refined and polished so we recommend starting with that one, but you can always go back and enjoy the first one later.

7. Portal

In Portal, you shoot one portal to jump through, and another to jump out of. Using those basic mechanics, you’ll need to solve a wide range of puzzles to get to the end of each level. Obviously, in a real escape room you don’t get a portal gun, but what Portal lacks in realism it more than makes up for in satisfying puzzle solving gameplay. Portal 2 continues the shenanigans and ramps it up even further.

The Portal Bundle is a discounted packaging of both Portal and Portal 2, so consider grabbing it if these games look up your alley!