Sunday, 1 March 2015

Review: Enigma - In Memoriam

The white laboratory coat on my shoulders is warm, but that's the last thing on my mind right now. A woman is in a coma and we're stumbling through her memories in order to find her most precious one and revive her.

The last puzzle sits before us, and the result is glorious.

With a surge of emotion, we leave the room, and for hours and hours afterwards, we cannot stop talking about what is the best escape room we have ever done.

I first heard about Enigma through word of mouth - a friend of a friend was doing beta testing for one of the rooms, and it promised to be mind-blowing. After reading a Gizmodo article, I was intrigued, and as soon as Enigma opened their doors, we booked ourselves in.

To date, no escape room my friends and I have done prior to or after In Memoriam has surpassed it.

Situated in an inconspicuous corner of the CBD, Enigma is run by a team of individuals with an impressive repertoire of skills and a fierce passion for escape rooms. They are meticulous in their detail and all they do, they do with love for the sport.

They currently offer two rooms, although a third is in the works.
- In Memoriam: as a doctor, you travel though a woman's memories to wake her from a coma.
- Dr. Disaster: sneak through the secret base of a super-villian as you try to save the world from nuclear fallout.

After looking through Enigma's gorgeous website, their recommendations helped me decide what to choose: I loved Inception and I have played To the Moon. If this room was, as suggested, similar to those titles, I could add it to the list.

We are received warmly and seated around a repurposed arcade console for the standard briefing from our game master, Matt. After explaining what not to touch and the unusual locks that they use, we are garbed in white lab coats and shown... a video.

They do things differently at Enigma. Instead of reading dully from a story card, the video provides an animated and dramatic scenario, and our game master is now a nurse, prepping us for surgery. Matt immerses himself in the role, and it's hard not to play along. The result is complete investment in the story - you are a doctor trying to save a woman, and while you're still trying to find a way out, you don't want this woman to be comatose for life because of your failure.

The room itself is a flawless execution of intelligent design and remarkably elegant puzzle integration. It is logical in progression and satisfying in its conclusion. I highly recommend it to everyone. Everyone.

Enigma: In Memoriam Summary
Difficulty: 7/10
The puzzles are not heavily challenging, but do require a bit of lateral thinking. Forget about pen and paper, as you'll be dealing with lots of technology and hands-on style puzzle solving. Enigma understands the frustration of attempting an escape room that is deliberately difficult for the sake of reputation and make their puzzles fair, balanced and solvable for the focused. My group found that the room flowed wonderfully, adding to the momentum of the story and made the room very enjoyable.
Theme: 10/10
Absolutely perfect.  Every detail is carefully thought out, and I know I keep saying this, but it is so easy to get caught up in the story, forget where you are and honestly, if you're not a little emotional by the end, then you have no heart ;___; In Memoriam is the first escape room I have done where the puzzles are true to the theme of the room, and that's something to brag about -  even in the bigger escape room chains, puzzles have a tendency to deviate from the central theme, breaking immersion and tethering you to the realisation that you are merely doing a puzzle room. Enigma also utilises a tablet-based hint and reminder system. We chose to receive hints only if we asked for them, and the soft chime reminding us of our remaining time was non-invasive and didn't interrupt our chain of thought.In Memoriam manages to involve you, and when you walk out of that room, that success will become one of your precious memories.
Staff: 10/10
Friendly and endlessly hospitable, the staff of Enigma are amazing. The sheer effort and dedication that they have to the art of the escape room is evident in everything they do. From the moment you are buzzed in to the end of the session, staff members will do everything in their power to ensure that you have fun. An innovative feature of the session is the Debrief, where your game master will perform a walkthough of the room you just completed to provide pointers, explantions and handy tips for next time. If you're lucky, they'll even point out the Easter Eggs they've cleverly included in each room.
Quality and Venue: 10/10
Fresh and new, everything about Enigma feels hi-tech, sleek and modern. The lobby is a gamer's delight with Pac-Man cushions and a fully-functional arcade cabinet coffee table. Sip on some cucumber water, munch some M&Ms and set a high score before being taken to your room, where you will encounter clean, crisp walls and well-maintained puzzles.
Overall: 10/10
I can't find a single criticism to make about Enigma and In Memoriam. We immediately booked for Dr. Disaster upon leaving and can't wait to come back for their third room.

What We Did
5 players
No hints
Finished with 19 minutes and 48 seconds to spare.

In Memoriam
Players: 2-6
Duration: 60 minutes
Child-friendly? Yes, with adult supervision, although the puzzles may be a little difficult for younger players.
Price: $186 for 6 players, $165 for 5 players, $140 for 4 players, $111 for 3 players, $78 for 2 players. Be sure to follow their Facebook page and blog page for discount codes!
Booking: Simple. Book online on their website or give them a call. Payments can be made in person, and they do accept EFTPOS. Make sure you Google "enigma room".

The Enigma Room
Suite 602, Level 6
262 Pitt St
Sydney 2000


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