13th Gate Escape – Disappearance of Flight 13 [Review]

Unexpected encounter

Location:  Baton Rouge, LA

Date Played: November 12, 2022

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

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $32 per player

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration:  The set is narrow with some tight spaces. It can be a little challenging to maneuver in.

Emergency Exit Rating: [A] Push To Exit

Physical Restraints: [A] Push To Exit

REA Reaction

I’ve never experienced an escape room’s reincarnation quite like this one.

When 13th Gate bought Hijacked from Rise Escape Rooms, they gutted the already impressive set and rebuilt it into an even more stunning, more realistic airplane. We truly felt like we were on an airliner.

They reinvented the story too, taking the plot in a more outlandish direction. This decision allowed the narrative to soar in a superior direction. It introduced characters, motive, and an intense finale sequence. It gave us agency to make a decision that impacted our adventure.

A realistic airplane set had significant downsides. With rows of seats and one narrow aisle, it was difficult to move around the set. Any new spaces we opened (i.e. the bathroom, the cockpit) were cramped, as they should be. However, it was hard for multiple teammates to participate in most of the puzzles, and sometimes it was challenging just to see what was going on. With a 6 person team, sight lines were a genuine problem.

A word of caution: for any pivotal scene, be cognizant that everyone on your team has line of sight, or they will really miss out on the adventure.

View into the cockpit of an airliner. The space is lit dimly red.
Image via 13th Gate Escape.

In Disappearance of Flight 13, the gameplay suffered from over-reliance on similar inputs (and sometimes, the exact same input). There were plenty of opportunities to improve the puzzle flow. There were so many incredible buttons, dials, and knobs that it felt tragic to keep revisiting the same uninspiring interface.

That said, you don’t travel to 13th Gate for the gameplay. You travel here for the set design, which was impeccable. While Disappearance of Flight 13 didn’t have the show stopping reveals of Cutthroat Cavern or Tomb of Anubis, it provided an intimacy and story that those games did not, and we found it to be a great addition to 13th Gate’s catalogue of adventures. Don’t miss this flight.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Thriller fans
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • The set is a legit airplane.
  • To make an impactful decision
  • Some brilliant narrative work

Story

We’d boarded a flight for Las Vegas. Unbeknownst to us, our plane was also carrying secret cargo… and we could not imagine what its implications would be.

Setting

Disappearance of Flight 13 was set on a remarkably realistic airplane. The build out was truly impressive. For better or worse, it had rows of seating, a narrow aisle, and a tiny restroom. 13th Gate extended the set outside the walls of the plane, using effects to convey movement and story beats.

Gameplay

13th Gate Escape’s Disappearance of Flight 13 was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

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

Analysis

➕ The airplane set was a masterpiece. The original set (of Hijacked at at RISE Escape Rooms) was already impressive… and 13th Gate upgraded it substantially. It looked great and it really felt like we were on an airplane.

➕13th Gate extended the set with video we could see through the windows and front windshield of the plane. The additional few feet of space at the front of the plane before the screen made the video effects that much more dynamic. The video provided a canvas for story beats, including one exceptional reveal.

➖ Space is always at a premium on an aircraft. This incredibly realistic aircraft was no different. We had one narrow aisle and a few other small spaces to interact with. We were continually in our teammates’ way. If we weren’t especially cognizant of reveals and sight lines, players would miss out. Because of the spatial constraints, Disappearance of Flight 13 can be a frustrating playthrough.

➕/➖ The cockpit upgrade improved the set dramatically from the original. That said, this area of the set – with buttons and dials galore – was underused in the gameplay.

➖ Most of the puzzles resolved to 4 digits, and went into one of a few identical input devices. Because of this the puzzles didn’t feel distinct. Even when they furthered narrative, they ran together in our minds.

➖ For the most part, the puzzles didn’t add to our experience with the realistic set. They often revolved around small props, reading, and noticing numbers.

➕ The best puzzles traversed different areas of the space, providing opportunities for communication and collaboration, and focusing our attention on the set or narratively important props.

➕/➖ The hinting was natural. It came from a character within our experience. It made sense. Furthermore, it was delivered over speaker phone, and thus engaged the whole team, something especially important in a less spatially accessible set. That said, at one point the hint system was a crutch for gameplay that lacked signposting, telling us how to interact with the set.

➕13th Gate retrofit this set with an entirely new story… and we loved it. It’s the kind of narrative that if we tell you anything about it, we ruin the surprise.

➕ The concluding sequence was intense and exciting. We felt like we had agency. Furthermore, we had enough context – from the in-game storytelling – to make a deliberate decision.

➕13th Gate created multiple endings for Disappearance of Flight 13. Winning was fun. Losing may be even more fun. It would certainly be dramatic. The fail-state really was something.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • For meals nearby, we recommend Elsie’s Plate & Pie and Parrains Seafood.

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

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

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