You glance up at the clock – seconds mercilessly tick down as you fumble with the combination lock in your trembling hands. You know the code, thanks to the work of your new friend, whom you just met an hour ago, deciphering a cryptic message in a newspaper clipping. The lock pops, and you shout in excitement before realizing all you’ve accomplished is revealing the next clue. In the back of your mind is one thought. Tick. Tick. Tick.
The thrills are undeniably real and whether you succeed in cracking the case or you don’t, so are the connections made with family, friends, work colleagues or even complete strangers. And it’s the reason why the public craze over escape rooms has not died down since coming into widespread popularity in the last five or so years.
It’s also the reason why Byron Delmonico, co-owner of the Rhode Island-based Riddle Room, cannot contain his excitement about being able to assemble these time-sensitive, clue-based puzzle games for a living.
“I did one about four years ago now, and absolutely fell in love with the concept. I instantly knew that this was what I was meant to do,” he said on Friday from inside the lobby of the Riddle Room’s new Warwick location on Route 2 (1150 Bald Hill Road). “Wanting to build and create things, wanting to entertain and facilitate people experiencing my creations. It really just completes me.”
Delmonico and his business partner, Kara Zanni, who have known each other since middle school while growing up Scituate, started the Riddle Room as a mere side project hobby after experiencing one of the games themselves. But it lit a fire that hasn’t died down since.
“She came to me and said, 'We need to do one of these, we're going to open one.' Then, walking out of it, I'm like 'We're going to open one,'” Delmonico recalled. “And a month later we had an LLC and three months later we had our doors open.”