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Riddle me this

Tulsa’s eleventh hour

Eleventh Hour Enigma, Tulsa’s newest escape room

Greg Bollinger

The Victorian style gold lettering on the facade of Eleventh Hour Enigma entices.

Follow the clues. Solve the mystery. Unlock the mystery. Beat the clock.

You definitely want to know what’s going on inside.

Eleventh Hour Enigma is an escape room—an immersive, crime-thriller experience in which participants play detectives using clues to solve puzzles before a bomb takes out downtown Tulsa. The room, called Tulsa Time, is Tulsa-themed, so brush up on your local history beforehand. You will also need “a logic person, a math person, and a thinking-outside-of-the-box person, for your dream team,” said co-owner Mel McCelvey.

For some, escape rooms function as a fun activity that brings people closer. For others, they offer an actual escape from technology and social media, a way to interact in the real world. There’s also the novelty of something more challenging than a night out at the bar, seeing the same folks, and hearing the same songs on the jukebox. Eleventh Hour Enigma celebrates curiosity, adventure, and friendship.

Escape room enthusiasts are also close cousins to haunt enthusiasts. In fact, they share the same trade show, TransWorld Halloween & Attractions show in St. Louis, each year.

“When escape rooms first started out, most were just an office building and one regular room,” said McCelvey.

Eleventh Hour has definitely raised the bar. Even the instructional video room is decorated with Art Deco, Victorian, and steampunk artifacts. From marbled floors to gold-framed blueprints of various gizmos, everything has been thought out, especially the puzzles.

For those of you who consider yourselves escape room experts, this isn’t an easy one. Don’t despair—each group gets a game master who will give as many or as few hints as required. A tip: You will need hints. Eleventh Hour has only been open a short time, and only a dozen or so groups have gone through. So far, no group has escaped! (By which I mean beaten the room. Eleventh Hour Enigma does allow you to leave.) If this cranks up your desire to be the first to solve the room, you can book Wednesday–Sunday (Mondays and Tuesdays are by private appointment only). You will have one hour to solve the room, which seems like plenty of time—until you look up and realize you only have twenty minutes left to solve the remaining puzzles.

McCelvey and her husband and co-owner Darby Thomas hope to eventually have three to four escape rooms.  If their Tulsa Time room is any indication, forthcoming rooms should be amazing. The next will be based on the famous Sarah Winchester house, which legend holds was kept under constant construction because of Winchester’s belief that supernatural forces would come after her due to the many deaths caused by Winchester rifles. Others say the building was one giant Masonic puzzle. McCelvey and Thomas are running with the latter theory. The possibilities are endless, so this room—located in the same building—will be bigger and badder than Tulsa Time and should be completed in 60 to 90 days. To prepare, you might want to hone your skills with a few other local escape rooms.

Escape Hatch in Bixby has five different rooms, including a football game delayed by an ice storm, a biker gang robbery heist, and a virus outbreak.

The Escape Tulsa, located at West 15th Street and South Carson Avenue, features four rooms of varying difficulty. There’s a murder to solve, an antidote to find, a spy to expose, as well as terrifying experiments to put a stop to—if you have the skills.

With names like Abandoned, Crypt, Homicide, and Cabin, there’s variety as well as haunt elements for lovers of the macabre at The Safehouse in South Tulsa (4444 E. 66th St. #200).

Lastly, there’s Key Quest (2909 S. Sheridan Rd.). It shares a building with Laser Quest and is probably the best choice for young players. They offer three different rooms, one of which is detention-themed, something that probably hits close to home for school-age participants.

If you feel up to a road trip, the owners of Enigma gave a thumbs-up to OKC’s The Sanctuary Escape Games. They especially liked The Lost Dutchman’s Mine. McCelvey said after an hour of play, “I literally felt like I was in a mine.” Their La Famiglia room has a Mafia theme, perfect for the wannabe mobsters in your group, or maybe your granny who wears
a lot of tracksuits.

But before you go anywhere else, test your skills at Eleventh Hour Enigma.

Eleventh Hour Enigma
Wed.–Thurs., 4–10 p.m.; Fri.–Sat., 10 a.m.–11 p.m.; Sun. 11:30 a.m.–8 p.m.
1325 E. 6th St. | 918-382-0005 | eleventhhourenigma.com
Tickets $20.50 per person

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