Solution: Game Theory
Answer: CUBED

Written by Xue Heng

Author's Notes

I’m a big fan of escape rooms and have played nearly two hundred of them….. most of which are unfortunately pretty mediocre. These mediocre rooms have certain common elements which I tried to include in this puzzle: overused room themes, blacklights, messages written in different colors, the “square piece into square hole” type puzzles, finding needles in haystacks, and to top everything off, shoddily hidden clues/passwords/numbers, the latter being a prominent part of this puzzle.

On the other hand, game theory is the main area of interest in my graduate research, and is something I have always found fascinating since young. I feel that there is much unused potential in this area as a topic for hunt puzzles, and I haven’t seen a puzzle which required solvers to identify Nash equilibria before, so I decided to write one - the format of the 3x2 braille arrays lends itself nicely to be represented as a game matrix.

Given that this puzzle belongs in the “Higher” round whose skyscraper meta requires nearly, if not all the answers, I tried to nerf its difficulty by making the hidden number aha as obvious as I could without completely trivializing it, to the extent that some numbers weren’t actually hidden and some strange words were chosen in the room titles so that solvers would have an idea what to look for. Also, putting together the bullet points for each room in the right order was deliberately made as fuss-free as possible to reduce tedium. Hopefully, the Nash equilibria part of this puzzle was original enough.