Labyrinths and mazes have long played a role in human cultures around the world. While escape rooms are relatively new (first opened in 2007 in Kyoto, Japan by SCRAP), the roots go back to adventure live-action games, puzzle hunts, scavenger hunts, labyrinths and mazes.
Labyrinths and mazes are often used interchangeably but there are some important differences between the two. The primary difference between the two is the type of path they utilize. A labyrinth has a unicursal path while a maze has a multicursal path. What this means is that a true labyrinth only has one path through—and one entrance. The path doesn’t branch or dead end; it’s simply a single path that has been laid out in an intricate or aesthetically pleasing way, often doubling back on itself again and again to create an appealing design. Often, the center of the labyrinth will be emphasized, with the path leading into the center, by a circuitous route, and then back out again. While the path may be disorienting or complex, it isn’t actually possible to get lost.
Mazes, however, are a puzzle to solve, and their paths may branch, dead end, or intersect. While you’ll find your way out of a labyrinth simply by following the path to its conclusion, a maze will try to deceive and confuse you, and stymie your progress with complex choices and false leads. Mazes usually have at least two entrance/exit points, and the goal is to get from one to another, rather than going to the center and returning. There’s one more way in which labyrinths and mazes differ—their purpose. Labyrinths have a long history of spiritual significance in many different cultures, while mazes are a test of one’s wits and memory.
Escape rooms are a team-based, mystery adventure puzzle game, where players must solve challenging puzzles and complete tasks together to get out within their 60 minutes time limit. Every Escape Room has a storyline or theme and each room is full of mechanical puzzles and riddles that need to be solved. Everything you look at the room can be a potential clue, there are many hidden objects, keys and codes that need to be found, puzzle locks that need to be unlocked and logical puzzles to solve - these puzzles usually require a lot of creativity and a mindset of "thinking outside of the box". Most Escape Rooms have more than one entrance and one exit; some rooms have multiple rooms and secret hidden doors that will lead to the final exit.
|A twisting, turning path designed to be of spiritual or aesthetic importance. Contains one entrance/exit, and the path does not branch out.
|A network of paths designed to confuse or challenge the user, offering many intersections, choices, and dead-ends. At least two entrances/exits; more may be included.
|A locked room with a theme, designed to confuse and challenge the players that are trapped inside. The players must solve a series of puzzles in order to get out of the room in time. At least one entrance and one exit, some rooms have hidden doors.
|Level of Difficulty
|Labyrinths are not designed to pose a challenge for the user to navigate. While it may be long and disorienting, there is only one path in/out (i.e., it is unicursal).
|A maze constitutes a puzzle for the user to solve. Mazes may vary in complexity, but all have some choices involved in order to successfully traverse from the entrance(s) to exit(s).
|Usually, players will choose the type of room based on their experience level- beginner, intermediate, or advanced.
|A labyrinth consists of one single path from the entrance to the center and back out. There is only one entrance which also serves as the exit.
|Mazes have at least one entrance and one exit, but there is no limit on the number of entrances and exits it has beyond that.
|Escape Rooms have at least one entrance and one exit, some rooms have multiple rooms and hidden doors.
|Labyrinths may be designed for aesthetic, religious, or spiritual purposes. In many cultures, they represent life’s journey, a religious experience, or a chance to pray or meditate on personal or spiritual matters.
|Mazes are designed primarily for entertainment and scientific study. Often, they are simple puzzles designed for recreational purposes. They can also be used in scientific experiments dealing with intelligence or special awareness.
|Escape Rooms are designed for entertainment, players need to work as a team to find hidden clues and solve challenging puzzles to escape the room.
Labyrinths, Mazes & Escape Rooms: Timeless Entertainment
Whether you fancy a thoughtful stroll through the soothing curves of a labyrinth, prefer the excitement and uncertainty of finding your way out of the confusing twists and turns of a maze, or maybe you feel like solving some mysteries in a locked room while the clock is ticking, you have to admit that all have an unmistakable, timeless appeal. They’ve been entertaining people for thousands of years - why not give them a try yourself!