Stark white walls, upscale furniture and friendly staff make walking into the lobby of the Riddle Escape Room seem more like a jaunt into the doctor’s office than an immersion into an eerie escape experience. However, being locked into one of three highly realistic themed rooms presents a different world that requires a delicate balance of teamwork, quick thinking and curiosity to escape.
Sixty minutes are on the clock as the lights dim and teams are forced to use a series of props and clues to work together to open locks, solve puzzles and riddles, and move on to the next part of the game.
When a team enters a room, owners and engineers Tolga Yalcinkaya and Koray Canturk observe it through security cameras and give the thrill seekers sporadic clues through walkie-talkies that are attached to the walls. They may be helpful, but College Times is only revealing one thing: It takes three to nine players to quickly solve the riddle. If a team cannot get out within 60 minutes, Yalcinkaya and Canturk relieve it.
“There’s a lot going on behind the scenes,” Yalcinkaya says.
Canturk adds that the mix of different types of puzzles and clues is paramount in keeping people engaged.
“The flow is really important,” he says. “It’s not just opening locks; sometimes it’s electronics, sometimes it’s manual locks and different kinds of puzzles and riddles inside, so you don’t get bored just opening the locks.”
Scottsdale’s Riddle Escape Room was years in the making. Yalcinkaya and Canturk traveled to different escape rooms in California, Arizona and Nevada and noticed that many of them were missing a key component—a suspenseful soundtrack. This led them to hire a producer to mix music exclusively for each room.
“With the rooms we saw, we knew what was missing and we tried to observe how we could make it better, how we could make it successful,” Canturk says.
Yalcinkaya and Canturk, with the help of a small team of interior designers and a music producer, took their time making each themed room realistic, exciting and confusing. The Heist, FBI Interview and Dr. Riddler’s Lab are open. The Prison Break room is under construction.
According to Canturk, the existing themes came from a pool of 20 to 25 ideas, from which they will pull as they get more feedback.
Social media is a big part of their business. A short teaser video posted to their Facebook page has nearly 18,000 views. Their Yelp page has yet to see anything less than a five-star review.
“We really care about our customers’ feedback,” Canturk says.
The duo says they have seen anyone from 8 to 90 years old try to escape the rooms.
“There’s something for everyone,” says Canturk. “Each room requires different skillsets. You wont see the same trick in two rooms.”
When asked what customers can expect from the Prison Break room, which will make its debut in two months, Yalcinkaya says that they strived for the most true-to-life experience possible. This room will be unique because it splits each group in half and locks them in separate prison cells so they have to escape individually to continue the game.
Canturk compares their profession to that of a chef when they prepare food. His favorite part of the job is seeing an expression of delight on people’s faces because of something he created.
“Right now we’re just doing our best to reach out to customers,” he says. “Once they come in, we have no problems because we’re really confident about our rooms and designs and creations. They always want to come back for the other ones.”
Riddle Escape Room, 2334 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite A120, Scottsdale, 480.659.7033, riddleescaperoom.com, $28.