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August 25, 2018

13th Gate Escape: Cutthroat Cavern & Tomb of Anubis (Baton Rouge, LA)


13th Gate Escape is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, far from the better known entertainment hubs of Los Angeles and New York City. I didn't know much about Baton Rouge except that LSU (Louisiana State University), Shaquille O'Neal's alma mater, was located here and that it was a 90 minute drive from New Orleans. The few people I knew that played at 13th Gate said it was the best escape room location in the country but then again, some people say the same for a lot of average rooms.

13th Gate started off with haunted houses and added escape rooms to their offering and as with many other similar businesses, their sets are the among the best out there. What creates greatness is combining this expertise with good enough puzzles, which is a problem with escapes rooms that spawned from the haunt industry. We encountered this issue during the same NOLA trip at another location that had amazing sets but non-logical puzzles.

This review will be for their two strongest games, "Cutthroat Cavern" and "Tomb Of Anubis", but all their games are of similar quality. Cutthroat was one of the first stops on the Room Escape Artist: Escape Immerse Explore tour in June of 2018. Although the tour only had three of the five rooms scheduled, our group of hard core entusiasts (some who trying to be enshrined in the Guiness Book of World Records for escape rooms) came back on our own to play the remaining two games. From their site:

Cutthroat Cavern
"While on a Caribbean vacation you decide to explore the island of Isla Mujeres, rumored to be the location where the notorious pirate Jean Lafitte hid his most priceless treasure.

Stopping to talk to a local tour guide, he gives you directions to a large series of Mayan Ruins and caves overlooking the ocean. He tells you that according to island legend, the pirate had a secret hideout somewhere within the caves, though no one had ever been able to discover it. The caves themselves were known as Cutthroat Caverns because the ancient Mayans would frequently perform human sacrifices within them...Can you Discover the hidden mysteries of Cutthroat Cavern before you become its next Sacrifice?

Tomb Of Anubis
"When you booked your vacation to see the great pyramids, you thought it would be more interesting. But as your tour guide drones on  and on about different types of ancient pottery and myths, you decide you could have much more fun if you were exploring on your own...

After a bit of exploring you walk into a small dark room and SUDDENLY a stone door closes behind you! You realize, all too late, that you are trapped! You look around the room and to your horror you see the remains of other "explorers" and realize that you have walked right into an ancient Egyptian trap! Can you uncover the mysteries of the pyramid and escape before time runs out? Or will this tomb become your final resting place?

Photo from 13th Gate Escape website for Cutthroat Cavern
Puzzles, Technology & Set Design

Cutthroat Cavern
Cutthroat started off in a small cavern and progressively ramped up to an incredible, expansive environment. We didn't feel like we were in a warehouse with great set decor, we felt like we were transported into another world! Even team members with over 400 escape rooms on their resume were awed and it's pretty rare to impress this type of crowd the way that Cutthroat did. There was a lot of eye candy and a few nods to the "Goonies" movie which I saw only after playing this room.

The puzzles were fine and there were a lot of the spectacular reveals. The technology was incredible with a lot of movement and the only exception was the hint mechanism. Hints were delivered in the form of a talking parrot which no one understood.

Tomb Of Anubis
I believe this game was created right before Cutthroat and it definitely plays in this vein. The set was absolutely believable, the transitions were just as obscene and there was no shortage of "wow" moments. Some puzzles were unclued and a journal was used as a playbook which detracted from the immersion. Also, the hint system of using a tablet to scan QR codes completely broke the theme.

I think of this game as a slightly smaller scale Cutthroat with an Egyptian theme but this would still be more grand than 95% of the games I have played.

If I had the choice, I would have played Tomb Of Anubis first in order to build up from the oldest to the newest room. I am sure that Anubis would have been mind blowing if that had been the case but Cutthroat stole all of the thunder.

Memorable Moments 

Cutthroat Cavern
The reveals of entering a new room and one of the physical puzzles are unparalleled. It's something that every player should experience once in their lifetime...That one huge puzzle piece just blew all our minds...still can't believe what I saw.

Tomb Of Anubis
Walking into a room and being like "whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa....". [Touches it to see if it was real]

Room For Improvement

Cutthroat Cavern
Aside from the poor hint mechanism, most of the puzzles were fine but not that creative. However, given the grandeur of everything else, all of this is forgiven :)

Tomb Of Anubis
No playbooks...please...even Room Escape Artist has a write up on what they call "Runbooks"

Overall Thoughts

So far, after playing +200 escape rooms, I'd have to say that I experienced sensations that I have not felt in a long time during an escape room while playing Cutthroat Cavern. It is a MUST play for any enthusiast out there. There are five solid games at this one location so you can't go wrong with planning a trip out to here. We also created a new gold 5-star rating given how incredible Cutthroat was.

  • Set design: Set? I thought we were actually in another world...
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Price: $28/person
  • Number of players: Cutthroat Cavern  4-10 (we recommend 5-6),  Tomb Of Anubis  4-8 (we recommend 5-6), public
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Overall Rating: Cutthroat Cavern ★★★★★ (The future of entertainment), Tomb Of Anubis ★★★★★
See their website here: https://www.13thgateescape.com

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