This week we will be examining Komnata Quest, a Russian-owned escape room company that has been named #1 by USA Today’s 10 Best Readers Choice Awards for escape rooms. Komnata was founded in Russia by Artem Kramin and Oksana Vasis in 2014.
In an interview with Josiah Motley, Artem Kramin shares about the founding and growth of Komnata. In 2014, Artem went with his friends to an escape room and had an incredible experience. “The entire idea of being able to bring to life a real adventure, to immerse people in a truly gruesome story, moved me a lot then.” explains Artem.
Inspired by that one game and feeling strongly that everyone should participate in such an experience at least once in their lives, that very year he began developing Komnata. The first escape room was opened in Kazan, Russia. They received fantastic reviews and feedback from their clients and began to expand quite rapidly across Russia. Just a year after launching, Komnata consisted of 50 locations (an unbelievable feat) and began looking into Europe and the USA. They are now the biggest escape room network in NYC.
Developing such a large network of escape rooms on an industrial scale however, came with many challenges. One such challenge was the hardware they used to run the escape rooms. They started off with using ready made hardware but for multiple reasons that began to hinder, rather than advance their goals. This resulted in Komnata hiring specialists to create their own hardware platform, a turn of events definitely not foreseen when first starting out.
Komnata in NYC The technological aspect of Komnata’s escape rooms is particularly present in their NYC locations. They have implemented complex, impressive effects including movable walls and sophisticated surround sound and lighting. Artem reveals that “In order for all this to work properly, we literally have to stuff the walls in the rooms with electronics.”
He explains that the reason for this hi-tech equipment pertains specifically when opening up in a place such as NYC. For not only are there multiple other escape rooms, there is also the vast variety of entertainment options available to the people to compete with, such as massive concerts, Broadway, etc. The escape room had to be cooler than the other options in order for people to come.
And Now in Brooklyn The Komnata escape rooms in Brooklyn certainly attract clients and provide a memorable experience. Sometimes it maybe perhaps too memorable. The themes of Komnata’s escape rooms live up to Artem Kramin’s vision to immerse people in a truly gruesome story. The room themes in Brooklyn include titles such as Suicide Hotel, City of Ashes, Doctor Frankenstein, and Boxed up among others.
The story and atmosphere of the rooms can be pretty spooky, especially when the player is going into an intentionally immersive environment meant to kindle certain emotions. They do warn that many of the rooms are not for the feint of heart. From people's reviews they seem to put more emphasis on the emotive experience over the puzzle solving aspect.
Ekaterina Bykova, the owner of one of the Komnata locations in New York, admitted that due to fright, they have had some people bail out of their “Boxed Up” room, a game where the person is literally placed in a box that they must escape from. Nonetheless, Komnata’s objective is to provide a great, fun time and they achieve this with most of their clients.
OneBefore Escape Experience Like the main rooms in Brooklyn, OneBefore Escape is also owned by a Russian-speaker. As it often happens, both companies were inspired by someone's escape room experience. Be that as it may, we still differ from Komnata’s approach. Our general theme is genealogy, and our specific room themes focus on the lives of righteous individuals in Jewish History.
We were drawn to stories that were both fascinating and true, pulling on the strings of the player's heart. Rather than horror and fright, they arouse feelings of kinship, curiosity, and pride in the great lives of our heroes. Of course, our rooms, props, and puzzles are professionally designed. We hope to provide for an absolutely fun time, filled with excitement and adrenaline, as well as being a safe and Jewishly-inspiring place for people of all ages.
We aim to create and educational and worthwhile experience that goes hand-in-hand with all the delight of a traditional escape room. We would love for you to take back a curiosity, or maybe a thirst to know more about your own ancestry!