Looking for something to do on a Friday night? Gather a bunch of your friends and try the new escape the room adventure, The Enigma Chambers, across from Open Doors Coffeehouse in downtown Johnson City.

Owner Mike Robison and staff worker Jacob. Photo by Cara Clark.

Based on the “escape the room” video game, escape room adventures physically lock you in a themed room littered with hidden clues needed to escape before time runs out.

After playing an escape room about a year ago, Mike Robison fell in love with the concept and opened The Enigma Chambers with a partner.

Deciding to bring the suspenseful, addictive game to Johnson City, they first researched other escape rooms.

A peak inside the Little Chicago Speakeasy room. This picture has been blurred to conceal possible clues hidden in the room. Photo by Cara Clark.

“We literally hopped in the car for two weeks and went one after the other through several states,” Robison said, an excursion in which they played upwards of 20 escape rooms.

After returning home, Robison began looking at locations to build his own escape room facility.

Robison and his team create a concept and design and build all of their rooms.

“We have 30 different themes and 200-plus puzzles,” Robison said.

The Enigma Chambers currently has two options to choose from. The Little Chicago Speakeasy room incorporates the 1920s and Al Capone. The theme of the room was inspired in part by Johnson City’s own history of being tagged as “Little Chicago.”

A fake corpse hangs from the ceiling in the Initiation room. Photo by Cara Clark.

If you’re looking for something a little scarier, players must escape from a torture chamber-style room in Initiation. To make things difficult the lighting is dim and at one point during the game the room is only illuminated by a few red lights.

The rooms stay in place for about six to nine months and then are replaced by a new theme with new puzzles.

The process for building a room requires knowing your “flow,” or how you want the puzzles, clues and themes to connect. The next requirement, Robison explained, is “You got to know what your end goal is.”

By crafting a story with start and endpoints, the team is then able to work out the middle sequencing.

Robison said the process is fun but also can be rough. It took about four months to design the Little Chicago room and another month and a half to build while the Initiation room took six months to design and four months to build.

After having created and played a variety of rooms, Robison said he has gotten pretty good with them, and he plans to play one by himself soon.

Decorations on the wall in the Initiation room. Rocks line all four walls and were created individually by hand. Photo by Cara Clark

The Enigma Chambers offers college students a 10 percent discount on weekdays and a 15 percent discount on weekends. You can book your room time on their website or check out further details at TheEnigmaChambers.com, but for the student discount you must call them at (423) 491-6210. The facility is located on 1001 N. Roan Street.

The Enigma Chambers also offers customers who come in on their birthdays one free ticket for the group.

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