by Carie Gueswel
There is a new, enigmatic trend popping up in the United States, and that trend is real-life escape rooms. Popular in Europe, Asia, and Australia for about a decade now, the Sherlock Holmes-like puzzle rooms have finally made their way to Colorado. So what is an escape room? Escape rooms are theme-based puzzle rooms filled with clues and obstacles that require critical thinking, problem solving, and teamwork in order to escape, and you must solve the puzzle within 60 minutes. Founders Mathew Sisson and Thomas West designed and opened one of the first puzzle rooms in Colorado, the Enigma Escape Rooms. The first Enigma Escape Room, The Missing Scientist Part I, located in Boulder, opened its doors in October 2014; they have recently doubled this space and opened The Missing Scientist Part II. In April 2015, Enigma Escape Rooms opened a new location (The Missing Scientist Part I) in Fort Collins at 151 S. College Ave. Sisson, a software engineer, and West, an attorney, had been part-time business partners for four years, working on side projects like Pixel Space, a “geeky” bed & breakfast in Boulder, when they decided to look for a project that would satisfy their need to build things, as well as bring something fun and positive to their community. That project presented itself when West came across a New York Times article on the first real-life escape room to hit the United States, which opened in New York City. Sisson explains, “We knew that this industry was going to blow up because it’s such an attractable entertainment for any type of demographic, it is so new and unique that we knew people were going to gravitate to it.” Sisson goes on to talk about the design of their escape rooms saying, “We knew that we wanted to start out with a different perspective of the business, we wanted to think about the experience and design of every little detail. We spent three to six months just on the concept and build of our puzzle rooms.” According to Sisson, this process sets them apart from a typical escape room. Enigma has captured what they describe as the “reality line,” a space that offers a different perspective by creating a new atmosphere with music, flooring, furniture and other decorative motifs that help to recreate the look and feel of a 1950’s room. West says, “We wanted to create an experience in which people can come together in a way that’s genuine and unique, in a way that will get people to engage each other and work together in cooperation. We have created an adult playground and that’s something that people are getting on board with.” Enigma is not scary; it is all about finding and solving clues, and it is a great time for anyone up for a good challenge. Enigma will open their second room, The Missing Scientist Part II, at their Fort Collins location in early 2016. For more information, and to book a party, visit them online at enigmafortcollins.com.