Exit Game – 13th Basement [Review]

13th BasementΒ is one of the best games in Anaheim, CA. Here are our other recommendations forΒ great escape rooms in the Anaheim area.

The killing joke

Location:  Anaheim, CA

Date Played: March 6, 2022

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $35 per player ($105 for teams of 2 on Friday-Sunday)

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: wheelchair-friendly game

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

13th Basement marks an interesting milestone for escape rooms. It’s the second satirical escape room that we’ve encountered (following The Experiment from Get the F Out). As the name implies, it was having a bit of fun with horror escape rooms, which are abundant in Southern California.

This all begs a few questions:

  • Is it good? Yes
  • Is it funny? Yup
  • Is it scary? A tiny bit…more goofing on horror than being horror
  • How much do I have to know about escape rooms to enjoy this game? It’s enjoyable in a vacuum, but overwhelmingly more entertaining if you’ve experienced horror escape room tropes enough to roll your eyes at the common ones.

This is the first game made by longtime escape room blogger/ vlogger Christine Barger and her partner. Throughout 13th Basement their experience and awareness truly shine. This was most evident in some of the unusual structural decisions that they made to both the flow of the game (which I shall not spoil)… and the way that they treat players.

They allow players to freely take selfies and shoot video, simply asking that we don’t spoil puzzles (which would be a legitimately hard to do without really trying to):

Peih-Gee Law with her head in an elaborate metal torture device. The wall behind her is blood spattered.

A satirical escape room only works if enough players “get it.” I don’t know how many regions throughout the US have a density of quality escape rooms as well as a large enough repeat player audience to pull this off, but Southern California is the most logical location for satirical escape rooms to emerge. It’s a sign of maturity that anyone can even dream about pulling this off. And while The Experiment isn’t around anymore, I like 13th Basement’s chances.

Beyond the meta analysis, 13th Basement was a really strong escape game. It had a great assortment of puzzles, and its creators leaned heavily into their strengths, using video brilliantly… while using tech more sparingly. It’s a classic example of leaning into what you’re good at to create an excellent experience.

Southern California has an abundance of fantastic escape rooms, and 13th Basement comfortably joins that list. If you’re an escape room fan in the region, check it out… and take a few selfies.

Who is this for?

  • Escape room fans
  • Dark comedy fans
  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Best for players with at least some experience

Why play?

  • Legitimately funny, especially if you get escape room humor
  • Innovative gameplay and structure
  • The video content is fantastic
  • You’re free to take selfies in the game, and there are some great places to do so

Story

Abducted by a serial killer and hobbyist escape room designer, we had 60 minutes to solve his puzzles or die brutal deaths.

SAW-like escape room with dingy tiles and a toilet.

Setting

13th Basement was set in a combination murder basement/ torture chamber. Everything in this space was a hyperbolic version of classic horror escape room tropes found in US horror escape rooms (which are especially prevalent in Southern California).

There was a lot of detail put into the set, and while it was a generally low tech room, it made especially great use of video content.

A room lit red and filled with torture devices

Gameplay

Exit Game’s 13th Basement was a standard escape room (and also a parody of an escape room) with a lower level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, solving puzzles, and communicating.

To fully appreciate the gameplay, you need to have played handful of other horror escape rooms.

The gameplay included minor jump scares, but overall, the game was more funny than scary.

SAW-like escape room with dingy tiles and PVC pipes running against the wall.

Analysis

βž• 13th Basement was a parody of horror escape rooms, which are plentiful in the Southern California. Almost every interaction, puzzle, and prop was a joke. If you’ve played at least a handful of escape games in this style, it will be hilarious. (And if you haven’t, 13th Basement was a still good escape room in its own right.)

βž• Exit Game minded the details to sell the parody. The name “13th Basement” was clever. The promotional poster was a riot.

13th Basement Poster, features a torture device and the phrase "Wanna play an escape game?" The mouse print is filled with escape room jokes.
“starring DIRECTIONAL LOCKS WITH WAY TOO MANY DIRECTIONS costarring CRAWLING FOR THE SAKE OF CRAWLING let’s not forget AN OBNOXIOUS AMOUNT OF BLACKLIGHT and of course KEYS FOR DAYS you better know how to use a LOCKER LOCK because we aren’t going to teach you how to use one

βž• 13th Basement was exceptionally Instagram-able. The torture devices were designed for the selfie. Exit Game focused their set design where it mattered, and encouraged players to enjoy their efforts.

David & Tammy smiling for the camera while holding a turd over a toilet in an escape room.

βž• 13th Basement had a balanced split start. It was not overly intimidating. We enjoyed the interplay in this segment.

βž– We recommend caging one early prop that tall players could easily grab. This would avoid possible sequence breaking at this juncture.

βž• Exit Game leaned into all the tropes: waivers, blacklights, prison toilets, directional inputs, post game photos, and more. With each one, they created a puzzle that was fun and funny, and avoided the pitfalls that have made these into tropes. The gameplay was playful.

βž– The loud sound effects overstayed their welcome. Going a little overboard with a loud jump scare was funny. That was part of the parody. Eventually, however, it was a bit grating.

βž• The videos were great, in both the script and the acting. They set the tone well.

❓ 13th Basement rewards awareness. If you want to be in on the jokes, do your homework (play horror escape rooms!) and be on your toes as you play.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.

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

Disclosure: Exit Game comped our tickets for this game.

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