The Wall

6 Overall
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Members from our Toronto and Denver ERA teams knew it was time for a return trip to one of our favourite cities… Buffalo, NY! We know in the past Buffalo has gained the dubious honour of being the butt end of all jokes, so you might be asking: “Why Buffalo of all places?” Well, we’ve come to love Buffalo for its variety of escape rooms, the quality of the experiences, the revitalized areas of the city… and of course the people we’ve come to know! All of these reasons (and more) brought us back to Enigma Escapes in downtown Buffalo, where we once again reunited with Enigma’s incredible owners. In our previous visit to Buffalo we played through their other escape room, The Masterpiece, which turned out to be an incredibly well designed first attempt. Needless to say we were excited to return and play through their second room, The Wall.

Enigma is easy to find, and parking is mainly limited to downtown streets and parking lots. There’s also a few spots in back of the building, so don’t let the parking situation turn you away. Once you enter you’ll notice it’s a smaller space and unable to provide some of the amenities you’d find in larger companies (drinks, snacks, etc) but they do have a seated area, some interesting things on the walls and floors to look at, and even a few cleverly hidden brainteasers to get your mind working. The staff as we mentioned are incredibly friendly, kind, and ready to greet you with a smile. We’ve said it many times before, great staff and owners always make an escape room better, and the Enigma staff certainly fall into that category. The room introduction and rules are given through a clipboard style presentation. With our mission in hand we were ready to head back to the 1980’s where the Berlin Wall stood strong as a reminder of the great divide between the East and the West.

As we entered the room, our initial impressions were a bit worrisome. On the one hand the props and walls seemed to be in good condition, while at the same time we couldn’t help but notice exposed plugs, wires, laminated papers, and an odd choice to have two set designs within the same room. Not the strongest first impression for room quality, but as the scenario progressed we saw signs of what we were more familiar with from The Masterpiece. We chatted quite a bit with the Enigma crew afterwards, so there’s a good chance several of the little things we noticed were modified and improved upon. Again, it wasn’t their best foot forward for room quality, but at the same time it managed to squeeze into the average room quality range from a stronger second section which counter-balanced the first section…

Typically after we complete an escape room, ERA members will spend a couple hours debriefing each other on how they felt about the room, what they noticed, what they experienced, and finally, sharing their personal scores for each category. This ultimately gets averaged together into the score you see online, and more often than not comes with general consensus after some mild debating among ourselves… In the case of The Wall, the immersive experience revealed we were more divided than normal. Some of our members felt connected to the story, room design, and atmosphere within the room. They felt there was a good dichotomy between East Berlin and West Berlin and how it played out in the game. Others on the team had a harder time getting beyond some of the odd set design choices, the exposed wires and plugs, the purpose of some puzzles, and that the set designs were meant to be experienced more symbolically rather than realistically. What we could all agree on however was there was enough historical referencing, visual aids, and thematic choices to make history buffs of the cold-war era happy. In the end your immersive experience may depend on where your natural focus settles… If you’re the type who easily ignores all things around you when you’re working on puzzles, you may enjoy the immersion here. If however you’re more observant of a room’s surroundings, and the little details of how things come together to create a seamless atmosphere, you might be a bit more disappointed. When all of these perspectives came together, the final result was an immersive score that just managed to squeeze its way into the average range.

And the puzzles, did they divide the team also? Again yes. As we debriefed, each of us had a hard time understanding where the others were coming from. That’s probably of little value for those of you who want to know more about the puzzles in the room, but apart from sharing our different perspectives we’re not sure what to say. Some of us felt the puzzles were inclusive, but some of us didn’t. Some of us felt there was good variety of puzzles, whereas others felt the puzzles were fairly common to most escape rooms. Some of us felt the puzzle quality was impressive, and others felt they lacked a bit of polish and seemed a bit rushed… Another divide in perception, another mix of scores, and when all was said and done, it also squeezed into the average range. We did agree the ideal group size for a room like this was 3-6 people however depending on how much interaction you want with the puzzles.

“Ok PLEASE tell us at least fun was something you agreed on?” Yes! Errr… mmm… kinda. We all agreed this is a decent room for beginner players, and those who maybe haven’t played too many escape rooms. We also agreed The Wall lacks a little bit of the polish and design finesse we saw in The Masterpiece, but the game is still good enough that people may want to try both at Enigma. Where we disagreed was the room design choices, the immersive experience, and the puzzles within the room. So our suggestion is if you’ve got a team of new players, go check out Enigma but make sure you play The Wall first, then play The Masterpiece second. If your team is filled more with experienced enthusiasts and those who are a little more critical, we’d suggest checking out The Masterpiece and maybe waiting on The Wall until you have the chance to go with people who are new to escape rooms. As mentioned already The Wall is best suited for 3-6 players depending on the level of engagement you want with the story and puzzles.

We want to hear your thoughts! Be sure to comment in the section below or send us a message via ERA’s email, Facebook, or Twitter… As always, happy escaping!

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