Reno’s Problem Solving Revolution

Kyle Young and a posse of pals solved the mystery on their Puzzle Room Reno debut.
Kyle Young and a posse of pals solved the mystery on their Puzzle Room Reno debut. Image: Kyle Young

Puzzle Room Reno is the latest “escape room” experience to delight young and old alike in Reno.

For the uninitiated, escape rooms allow participants to pit their wits against a series of clues in a themed room. The goal is to escape the room in under one hour by working together to solve the clues and ultimate mystery. Players of all ages will sharpen skills like collaboration, leadership, communication, and problem solving. I sat down with Puzzle Room Reno’s owner, Phil Frayssinoux, to learn more about owning a business in downtown Reno and Puzzle Room specifically.

Downtown Reno appears to be on the up and up, but its progress still appears to lag behind that of Reno’s Midtown district. When asked if Frayssinoux hoped to see downtown Reno undergo the same kind of renaissance that Midtown is encountering, he said, “Yeah, absolutely. It would be great to see that.” He added that as new investors become interested in the area, patrons and business owners interact to create destinations worth visiting.

Puzzle Room Reno
Puzzle Room Reno. Image: Kyle Young

In comparing downtown Reno to the Midtown district, I was curious to learn how Frayssinoux’s newest location in Stateline compared to the Reno location. Puzzle Room Tahoe, located near Montbleu and Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, offers three of the same themes as the Reno location: Lost Cabin, Valley of the Kings, and Below Ground. “The difference, though, because we don’t have [the] Asylum [theme] in Tahoe, we decided to actually duplicate Below Ground … we have two identical rooms where people can actually compete against each other,” said Frayssinoux.

Four different mysteries can be solved at Puzzle Room Reno's downtown location.
Four different mysteries can be solved at Puzzle Room Reno’s downtown location. Image: Kyle Young

Those new to the Puzzle Room franchise may be wondering if some rooms are more adult in nature and if certain rooms may not be family friendly. The truth is quite the opposite. Frayssinoux assured me that each room is 100 percent family friendly.

In fact, families may find that including multiple generations in the same game can be advantageous. Frayssinoux recalled a group of corporate executives that failed to escape their room. Shortly after, a group of teenagers solved the same puzzle in record time. Sheer intelligence can aid in solving the clues, but players that offer different perspectives may be more valuable.

Speaking of differing perspectives, Puzzle Room Reno offers incredible experiences for students and their educators. At present, Frayssinoux has worked with five different local schools to cater the rooms to specific school lessons and exams.

“We can incorporate whatever they learn in class into the rules,” said Frayssinoux. “Think about … kids having a great time [and] at the same time, they’re learning. They just had to solve the math equation … [or name the] capital city of X country.” In one case, a teacher actually replaced her students’ final exam with a customized room at Puzzle Room Reno.

Budgeting for a school bus, wrangling parent-volunteers, and trying to maintain a headcount are no longer barriers to educators that wish to offer a fieldtrip-like experience to students. Rather than forcing teachers to focus on the logistics of student travel, teachers can now collaborate with Puzzle Room Reno to bring escape rooms into the classroom.

The Mobile Game allows students to become detectives, secret agents, and expert crime-fighters all while learning facts and concepts that will carry them forward through their education. The Mobile Game enhances learning by applying what the kids want – magic and wonder – to what the kids need – critical thinking and cooperation. Students, teachers and parents are sure to enjoy the challenge.

Students in kindergarten through 12th grades are not the only participants that can benefit from Puzzle Room Reno. Ideally, we remain students of life well into adulthood. The “real world” can be a monotonous and sometimes isolating place. What does the modern professional lack in the workplace? Often, it’s the ability to connect with his or her peers, subordinates, or superiors in a meaningful way. In some cases, coworkers may find it difficult to push the boundaries of one another. Puzzle Room Reno gives coworkers the opportunity to push one another’s boundaries, explore different types of communication and share innovative ideas toward a common good. If you want to build a stronger team, give them a stronger challenge.

The doorway to the 'Lost Cabin' mystery. Participants have one hour to solve the mystery and escape the room.
The doorway to the ‘Lost Cabin’ mystery. Participants have one hour to solve the mystery and escape the room. Image: Kyle Young

In my own maiden voyage at Puzzle Room Reno, I found that the diversity of my teammates was our greatest asset. They boasted skill in mathematics, language, spatial relations, literature, technology, and detail-oriented observation. Many a time during our experience I heard, “I would have never thought to look there!”

The room we played was Lost Cabin. In it, our “uncle,” a recluse, went missing from his cabin in the wilderness. The police had no leads, so it was up to us to investigate further. It turns out that our uncle was wrapped up in a mystery out of this world. The thoughtfully chosen props, dynamic clues, and the occasional two-way-radio-delivered-tip from our Game Master made the whole experience a blast and one I will not soon forget.

If you and your crew haven’t yet dropped into Puzzle Room Reno or Puzzle Room Tahoe, I asked Frayssinoux for some pro-tips on breaking through the one hour challenges. Here is what he advised:

  1. Some clues require a series of documents to solve. Assemble all documents for a given clue before proceeding to tackle other clues.
  2. Listen to your Game Master! The clues are sequential, and the Game Master will help keep you on track.
  3. Try to play the game with at least four people. The game is easier and more fun with more minds at your team’s disposal.
  4. Think outside the box. Not everything is what it seems. If the adults in your group are struggling on a particular clue, ask the kids to jump in. Kids will often do better than the grown-ups!

Puzzle Room Reno is located at 135 N. Sierra Street, Suite B on the street level of the Parking Gallery parking garage and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information visit https://www.puzzleroomreno.com/ or call 775-525-5576.

Kyle Young
About Kyle Young 25 Articles
Kyle Young is a local freelance writer. He offers content writing, blog posts, copywriting, and editing services. His current writing foci are food, cooking, and the oddities native to Reno, Sparks, and Tahoe. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a bachelor’s degree in English writing. He gained some food chops while working as a dishwasher, line-cook, and food-truck operator. He learned quality control, imports/exports, and logistics at a local spice and seasoning manufacturer. When not hustling as a writer, he plays Scrabble, cooks, wrangles three pups, and attends live music/comedy with his fiancé.