Going to an escape room for fun quite frankly seemed to me to be a quintessential example of an oxymoron. Images came to mind of being locked in a dark room trying to claw my way out before some two-headed demon snatched me up when “time was up.” Perhaps I’ve read one too many Stephen King novels, but I really couldn’t grasp that something dubbed an escape room could be fun or entertaining whatsoever.
Fear not, for there are no two-headed demons to be found at Enigma Escape Rooms opening at 18 East Tupper between Main and Washington Streets in the city’s Theater District. In fact, no demons at all. Nothing dark or scary about it, but lots of fun to be had for sure. Come to find out that an escape room is essentially a game of logic where participants enter a closed room and solve puzzles and clues in order to exit in a certain amount of time. The room typically has a theme or story that interacts with the clues and puzzles that inevitably lead to the solution and the “escape.” In other words, it’s nerd nirvana.
Enigma owners Ruth Donner, Marc Rummenie and Dave Schulz have been friends for over 30 years. Schulz, a Buffalo native, had been working in the movie and T.V. industry for 20 years in Los Angeles and was wanting to return back to the Buff. During a Thanksgiving dinner in Buffalo in 2015 he told Donner and Rummenie about the concept of escape rooms after seeing one played out on an episode of The Big Bang Theory (like I said, nerd heaven). Donner and Rummenie took a trip to Toronto to check one out and loved it, they were immediately hooked. After visiting a few more they thought, “We can do this!” Donner says that after talking with Schulz the trio decided that they could make an escape room that would be “really fun, innovative and creative. The best in Western New York.” They spent the past year doing loads of research throughout the Northeast region of the states and say that they have incorporated things into their rooms that they have never seen anywhere else.
Without giving too much away, the theme for Enigma’s first room is “Masterpiece.” Rummenie says that what sets them apart from others is that they are committed to theme and story. In “Masterpiece” a character has died leaving an immense fortune. Before his estate is dissolved players must find his missing treasure. Throughout the game players discover many things about the character’s life and who he was. According to Rummenie, “We want to provide the experience and feeling of walking into a mystery novel.” This sounds like my kind of escape!
The owners are glad to have their business in the city and believe their building and space to be a perfect location on Tupper. “We feel it’s the hub of things and we feel we are a great compliment to what’s going on down there right now. It’s great to have a location that is right downtown, close to restaurants, bars and nightlife right next to the Theater District. It’s not only easy to get to, but we have a parking lot right in back. It is a great fun event to do before or after a show or dinner,” says Donner. “We have found that the conversations that follow over a bite to eat or a couple drinks are sometimes the best part.” Their space at 18 East Tupper will allow for two rooms and their plans are for the second room to open in two to three months with each room changing out theme and story every six to eight months.
In addition to Enigma being a fun part of an evening out, Rummenie sees it as a great team-building activity for businesses, as it combines a fun social element with a practical application of collaborative problem solving for people who work together. They would also like to host summer programs and camps for kids as an innovative fun and educational field trip for young adults and teens.
Their recent soft opening for family and friends was a big success with lots of positive comments on both the intricacy of the game and the detailed motif of the room. Enigma Escape Rooms plans to open to the public on December 17th and is now accepting private bookings for three to ten people per group. The cost is $25.00 per person with a one hour time cap. Book reservations online at www.enigmabuffalo.com.