5 minutes of prime cut escape room.
Location: Tickfaw, Louisiana & Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Date played: October 6, 2017
Team size: 2-4; we recommend 2-4
Duration: 5 minutes
Price: $5 per ticket
There is a little-known attraction open at haunted houses across the country: 5-minute escape rooms.
During October, crowds of people flock to RISE and 13th Gate to visit their world-famous haunted houses. While they wait in line (RISE) or near the box office (13th Gate), haunt goers can spend up to 5 minutes in each mini escape room on the premises.
Players are up against a 5-minute game clock with no hints and no gamemaster.
Scenarios & settings
During our recent visit to RISE and 13th Gate, we played (and in one case, viewed under construction*) the following themes:
- Locked-Up (prison theme), RISE
- Heist (museum heist theme), RISE
- Captured (serial killer theme), RISE
- Voodoo (voodoo theme), 13th Gate
- Saw (serial killer theme), 13th Gate
- Abyss (submarine theme), 13th Gate
Each small set was beautifully designed and expertly constructed. The gorgeous sets transported us from the grounds of the haunted houses to these themed adventures.
*All 6 5-minute escape rooms are now open.
Each 5-minute escape encapsulated the first scene of an escape room. We observed our surroundings, determined relevant information, and worked together to complete a few interactive – but not particularly involved – puzzles, which culminated in a complete solve.
The sets were world class. RISE and 13th Gate construct some of the most outstanding sets we’ve seen. (Reviews of their 60-minute escape rooms are forthcoming.) They did not cut corners for these shorter experiences.
These 5-minute escapes felt like movie trailers for the 60-minute escape rooms at RISE Escape Rooms and 13th Gate Escape. In each short playthrough, we were exposed to simple, escape room-style puzzling, which felt like a teaser for the more complex and layered challenges in the longer games.
RISE and 13th Gate edited out all extraneous and distracting content. The tight game design was truly impressive.
These 5-minute escapes required minimal reset labor. To increase throughput, these couldn’t be a burden to reset. There was little time in between playthroughs.
For the individual games, these particular details stood out:
- Abyss at 13th Gate included impressive tech-driven effects that provided story and drama.
- The Heist at RISE Escape Rooms incorporated a great agility challenge.
- 13th Gate created progressive clue structure for the most search-heavy game, Saw. As time passed, the clueing became more direct, effectually functioning as a hint system.
We can see how 5-minute escape rooms could be polarizing. Players who understand how to play will have intense and thrilling playthroughs. Players who are completely out of their element won’t have enough time to make sense of… anything. The same 5-minute escape room could be exhilarating to some and bewildering to others. That’s the nature of the genre.
5-minute escape rooms introduce a good deal of risk for the industry. By virtue of their locations at popular haunted attractions, they have the potential to introduce many more people to escape rooms. They need to be amazing. They need to be the escape room movie-trailer experiences we saw at RISE and 13th Gate. They are incredibly challenging to build well and if executed poorly, they will turn people away from escape rooms.
Should I play the 5-minute escape Rooms at RISE Escape Rooms & 13th Gate Escape?
If you are visiting RISE Haunted House, RISE Escape Rooms, 13th Gate, or 13th Gate Escape this fall, the 5-minute escapes would be a great add-on to your experience.
Each one we tried delivered a exciting complete experience with an incredible set and strong puzzle flow.
Arrive focused. You have to be on for every second of a 5-minute game. If your mind wanders for just 10 seconds, you’ve just wasted more the 3% of your game clock.
For the individual games, note that (1) RISE’s Prison Break split us between two spaces, but we could see and hear each other and (2) 13th Gate’s Voodoo took place in a particularly tight space and would not be comfortable for claustrophobic players.
This season, there are 5-minute escape rooms at multiple haunted attractions throughout the United States. Locally in New Jersey, Brighton Asylum offers 2: The Bomb Squad and The Device. (We haven’t had a chance to try either one yet.)
Note that 5-minute escape rooms are add-on, limited-time attractions, open to guests when the haunted houses are open.
Full disclosure: RISE Escape Rooms and 13th Gate Escape comped our tickets for these games.