Location: Rancho Mirage, CA
Date Played: January 7, 2022
Team Size: 2-12; we recommend 4-6
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: $35 per player
Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit
Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints
Treasure Hunters: Station 13 was a puzzler’s paradise. If a giant room filled with puzzles that each opens a shipping crate containing an item of treasure sounds like fun, then this is the game for you.
But that description doesn’t really do Treasure Hunters: Station 13 justice. For essentially a room filled with boxes, the production value was high. And the recovered treasure was surprisingly heavy and intricate, a step above the cheap props you find in most escape rooms.
Oh, and there was also a life-size train cutting through the room.
Treasure Hunters: Station 13 was tastefully and historically situated without gamifying any trauma associated with World War II. The game was based around the actual urban legend of the Nazi gold train which was purportedly hidden in southwest Poland following the war — which has never been found or even proven to exist.
Escape Games at The River has created something quite unique with Treasure Hunters: Station 13. From the historical theme to the nonlinear, points-based gameplay, this was a standout game from a very promising company. Though this area is currently an escape room desert, if Escape Games at The River keeps creating experiences like this, they may very well soon become a destination for enthusiasts.
Who is this for?
- Puzzle lovers
- Scenery snobs
- Any experience level
- Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
- Hefty movie-quality replicas of weapons and artwork
- An imposing freight train cutting through the room
- A feast of puzzles
- An uncommon theme
The year was 1945. We’d tracked down an infamous train filled with priceless treasure stolen by the Axis powers. We broke into the train depot where the train was stopped and had until the train left the station to recover as much treasure as we could.
Treasure Hunters: Station 13 took place at a train station’s loading bay, set in 1945 Germany. This vast warehouse-like space was packed with storage crates, and a full-scale train cut through the room.
Escape Games at The River’s Treasure Hunters: Station 13 was a points-based escape room with a moderate to high level of difficulty.
Core gameplay revolved around solving a veritable mountain of puzzles to unlock storage crates. The game was nonlinear and points-based, with crate size roughly correlating to both puzzle difficulty and the value of the contents within.
A small handful of puzzles contributed to a meta element that gated an overall “win” for the game. Beyond that, it was not required to solve all the puzzles to win. In fact, only highly experienced teams might have a chance at getting through all the puzzles in a single playthrough, and Treasure Hunters: Station 13 would likely be replayable for many teams.
➕ The set design of Treasure Hunters: Station 13 was stellar, and it felt like so much more than just a room of locked boxes. The crates themselves were hefty and sometimes opened in unexpected ways. The train dominated the space, and I especially appreciated detailing on the train tracks and the tunnel openings that convincingly suggested that the train extended far beyond what we could see in the room. Tall ceilings and some large writing high up helped accentuate the vastness of the space.
➕ The items of treasure we recovered from each crate were heavy, detailed, movie-quality replicas, providing an exciting reward each time we solved a puzzle.
➕ There was a wide variety of puzzles, almost all of which were open to solve from the start of the game. All puzzles were fun, logical, and well clued, and they ranged in difficulty.
❓This was a puzzle-centric game in which the puzzles didn’t really contribute to the narrative, though some contained small elements, like German numbers, that felt thematically grounded. The treasure we obtained from each puzzle also helped keep the gameplay from feeling overly random.
➖ The game lacked an easy way to track which treasures we’d recovered. We weren’t able to write on the provided shipping manifest, and as we placed all the treasures in a single box, it was difficult to tell what was what. By the end of the game, we resorted to spot-checking all the boxes around the room to ensure we’d actually opened them all.
➖ For a room where nearly every detail was part of a puzzle, some extra writing on the train that wasn’t part of any puzzle stuck out as an unnecessary red herring.
➖ A meta element involved collecting steel balls that gated the core win condition. This mechanic required some out-of-game explanation on how to not end the game prematurely if we wanted to keep solving puzzles, and the steel balls didn’t seem to fit the narrative.
➕ The room ended with a dramatic reveal that cleverly utilized some special effects. It felt like a scene out of a movie.
➕ Treasure Hunters: Station 13 would have significant replayability value for many teams. While my experienced team of 4 managed to solve all the puzzles on our first play, there was a massive amount of nonlinear content that could be tackled across multiple visits.
Tips For Visiting
- There was a parking lot for The River shopping complex.
- All the food at Chef Tanya’s Kitchen in Palm Desert was on the spectrum of delicious to mind-blowing. My non-vegan teammates equally loved it, and we returned for both lunch and dinner.
Book your hour with Escape Games at The River’s Treasure Hunters: Station 13, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Escape Games at The River comped our tickets for this game.