13th Gate Escape – Agent 13 [Review]

Sharks and freaking laser beams.

Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Date played: October 6, 2017

Team size: 4-8; we recommend 5-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Story & setting

We entered the recently discovered bunker of a former Nazi inventor who had infiltrated the United States after World War II. The inventor was a known pioneer in rocketry as well as atomic weaponry, but it is also believed that he was an early and secret pioneer in artificial intelligence. A previous agent had been sent to learn the secrets of this bunker, but he had disappeared. It was up to us to see if we could learn the true nature of this facility and learn the fate of the missing agent.

As with the story, Agent 13’s set was eclectic and detailed. Walking a few feet through a doorway could take us to a completely different world from the one that we had occupied mere moments before. The build quality and attention to detail were beyond incredible… which is true of every room offered by 13th Gate Escape.

In-game: A sci-fi science lab with tubes filled with glowing green material, and a large metal and glass chamber with lighting running through it.
Image via 13th Gate Escape.

In the service of furthering the adventure, 13th Gate Escape filled Agent 13 was many massive set pieces and interactions that did not serve a purpose other than to be really freaking cool. Almost any other escape room company wouldn’t have even thought to add this level of detail.

Puzzles

The beating heart of Agent 13 was technology.

Agent 13 required many different skills including observation, correlation, logic, deduction, communication, and even agility. In general, we engaged the expansive and detailed set to work toward solutions, which we entered in the form of buttons, switches, or the like.

The puzzling in Agent 13 was a team effort.

Standouts

Agent 13 had multiple sets, each more exciting than the last. These were detailed and beautiful. 13th Gate Escape designed intricate and incredible set pieces that were… just set pieces to instill drama. These enhanced the look and feel of each gamespace and made Agent 13 into an emotional rollercoaster of an escape room.

While some of the elaborate set pieces were there simply to add drama, others were deeply involved in the puzzling.

The transitions were incredible. They were surprising and included fantastic effects.

One physically intense stretch of game was designed such that we had to work together to advance. Accomplishing this challenge required at least 4 people.

Shortcomings

Agent 13’s narrative was disjointed. It more or less time-hopped and felt like World War II-meets-Portal. While all of the individual interactions looked cool, we never fully bought into this futuristic 70-year-old-bunker-meets-lab.

A few puzzles lacked adequate clue structure. In one instance, we recommend the tech either accept variant solutions, or the clues be more specific.

13th Gate Escape could tweak the tech slightly to make it more reliable. For example, eliminate the use of a live internet connection to feed critical information that could be hosted locally.

Agent 13 bottlenecked in the climactic moments of the escape room. We ended up largely bypassing the intended communication puzzle, as it overstayed its welcome and was bogged down by lengthy documents, some relevant and others red herrings.

All of 13th Gate Escape’s rooms use Escape Room Boss for automated hints. If you’re curious about the details, feel free to read this post on the subject. Beyond that I’ll say that 13th Gate Escape’s gamemasters were fantastic and I wish that they had more direct control over the experience.

Should I play 13th Gate Escape’s Agent 13?

Agent 13 was impressive. The set was enormous and detailed, with each segment so different from the others. The tech and effects were incredible.

As the sets changed, so too did the puzzle types, which was exciting. The variation, however, contributed to a disparity in fun versus frustration. A few of the puzzles didn’t quite tip the scale in the fun direction.

Agent 13 contains challenging puzzles that rely on communication and teamwork. We expect that Agent 13 would be exceedingly difficult for newer players and is probably best enjoyed by more seasoned players.

As you play though Agent 13, you’ll traverse what feels like the past, the present, and even the future. And that is worth seeing.

Book your hour with 13th Gate Escape’s Agent 13, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: 13th Gate Escape comped our tickets for this game.

 

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