Clue CarrĂ© – Vampire Hunter Room [Review]


Location: New Orleans, LA

Date Played: June 22, 2018

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 3-5

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

Vampire Hunter Room was a puzzle-driven escape room. With a fairly standard study-like set, and dim lighting, the intrigue was in the puzzles. These offered a number of fun solves.

If you’re in the area and looking for puzzles over environment, we recommend stopping by.

In-game: An old parlor with a red clothed table, couch, and a painted portrait of a vampire.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Any experience level
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Some cool puzzles


Antoine Devillier, an ancient, wealthy, and powerful vampire, had but one weakness: the stake of Van Helsing. Devillier had acquired and hid his one weakness away. Our plucky band of vampire hunters set out to find the legendary weapon and give it a new home in Devillier’s chest.

In-game: The aged and worn fireplace in the parlor.


Vampire Hunter Room was slightly dim and study-like. The initial set was functional, but lacked excitement and polish. The escape room gave way to a more interesting set later in the adventure.


Clue Carré’s Vampire Hunter Room was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, puzzling, and making connections.


+ Vampire Hunter Room was a puzzle-driven escape room. It had a lot of content. We enjoyed many of the puzzles.

– The decor was standard study fare with a vampiric twist. It was not particularly inspiring.

– Vampire Hunter Room was unnecessarily dim. While the dim lighting provided some ambiance, it made solving puzzles more frustrating than they should have been. The trade-off didn’t seem worth it.

+ We enjoyed how Clue Carré wove the bloodlines into the escape room.

? Vampire Hunter Room was a solid, themed escape room, but nothing more. We hope that Clue Carré can build on this in the future to develop a cohesive world of puzzles, set, and story.

+ Vampire Hunter Room came to a pointed conclusion. It was predictable, yet enjoyable.

Tips for Visiting

  • We recommend Victory for post-game cocktails.

Book your hour with Clue Carre’s Vampire Hunter Room, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Clue Carre comped our tickets for this game.

Clue CarrĂ© – The Carnival Heist [Review]

The second most fun you can have in a coat closet.

Location: New Orleans, LA

Date Played: June 22, 2018

Team size: 2-8; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

The Carnival Heist was a split-team escape room with an unusual twist. We’re torn between deeply enjoying a lot of what Clue CarrĂ© created and feeling frustrated by some of the design decisions that made it interesting.

The Carnival Heist offered interesting puzzles. Bring the right team for a communication-heavy escape room and be mindful that if something appears off, that might be by design.

If you’re in the area and looking for something that plays a bit differently, there is a crown here just waiting for you to steal it.

In-game: A purple walled art gallery with Mardi Gras paintings hung from the walls. In the middle of the room encased in glass is a crown on a pedestal.

Who is this for?

  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • Unusual take on split-team escape rooms
  • Interesting set of puzzles
  • Fun final sequence


The priceless King’s Crown was on display at the Vieux CarrĂ© Art Gallery during Carnival. With a one hour gap in the viewing schedule, our crew needed to sneak into the gallery and steal the work of art.

In-game: an employee breakroom with a locker, schedule, calendar, and a clock in/out machine.


The Carnival Heist had a split start whereby half of the group entered the art gallery’s employee break room and the other half entered the coat check room. We eventually converged into the gallery itself.

The break room looked like a break room and the coat check looked like a coat closet. They weren’t overwhelmingly impressive locations, but they did look right. The gallery was a bit more impressive, merging the art gallery aesthetic with a Mardi Gras color palette.

In-game: a coat check closet.


Clue Carré’s The Carnival Heist was a split-team escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around communication, deduction, and puzzling.


+ The Carnival Heist offered serious deduction and logic challenges.

+ We enjoyed the repurposing of a small device for a fun reveal.

– One group encountered an order preservation puzzle, which was a problem because we didn’t know until it was too late.

+/- The coat check and break room looked fine and reasonably accurate, but they weren’t exciting locations.

+ When we entered the two different spaces, each team was presented with an interesting mini escape room with unique goals.

– We eventually stalled forward progress due to an unusual split-team implementation. While we intellectually appreciate this unorthodox structure, we didn’t enjoy it in the moment. It was clued – and really hammered in – but especially difficult to interpret in the moment. Once we misunderstood the intent, there was no way to self-correct without gamemaster intervention. This plagued the different groups for a good portion of the split-team part of the experience.

? We liked the idea that once one group entered the gallery, they could quickly let the other group in as well. However, in the moment, we didn’t realize we had this capability. It didn’t matter for us, but we suggest additional cluing in the event that one team is far behind the other.

+ The gallery reveals upped the energy level in the room.

+ We enjoyed the Indiana Jones-like conclusion.

Tips for Visiting

  • We recommend Victory for post-game cocktails.

Book your hour with Clue CarrĂ©’s The Carnival Heist, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Clue Carré comped our tickets for this game.

Escape My Room – Smugglers Den [Review]

Smugglers Den is one of the best games in New Orleans. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms around New Orleans/Baton Rouge.

A case of wine before a blackout.

Location: New Orleans, LA

Date Played: June 21, 2018

Team size: 2-6; we recommend 3-4

Duration: 45 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Ticketing: Private

REA Reaction

Escape My Room reliably provides unusual escape room experiences; Smugglers Den was no exception. It began in as a fairly typical escape room and then transitioned us into darkness, where we spent the rest of the game puzzling by touch.

Smugglers Den was a game of extreme tradeoffs. We lost the beautiful Escape My Room aesthetic and the DeLaporte family narrative. We gained a private, small-team experience with a different approach to puzzling and a variety of new sensory inputs.

If puzzling in pure darkness sounds like a welcome adventure and challenge, this is one fine example of the niche pitch-black genre. If you’re thinking, “darkness is a big nope” then you should trust that instinct, but do so knowing that this was a safe, horror-free escape room.

In-game: A brick wine cellar with wooden crates and old photos.

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Puzzle lovers
  • Players with at least some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle

Why play?

  • A great opening puzzle sequence
  • The challenge and intrigue of a dark escape room
  • An unusual final puzzle


The DeLaporte family was in financial dire straits and facing the reality that they might have to sell their estate. As a last-ditch effort to raise funding they had hired our team to investigate their old wine cellar for any valuables left behind by Silver Dollar Sam, a notorious smuggler who, according to family legend, had used the cellar for running his illicit goods.

In-game: A corner of the brick wine cellar with a few photos, a bottle of wine, and an old radio.


Smugglers Den was an unusual game in Escape My Room’s universe. We began in the DeLaportes’ wine cellar, which felt right at home in… their home. It was a beautiful, detailed, and weathered space filled with appropriate props.

After solving our way through the wine cellar, we entered a dark space for the remaining two-thirds of the game.

In-game: A pitch dark room.
In game photo: We’re just gonna keep making this joke until we stop snickering at it.


Escape My Room’s Smugglers Den was an escape room played largely in darkness, with a higher level of difficulty.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, puzzling, building understanding of the dark space, making connections, and communicating.

In-game: Close-up of a money back and large silver dollars.

In addition to escaping, we were playing for a score. There were a number of over sized silver dollars hidden throughout the gamespace. (We found all but one of them.)


+ The wine cellar moved from on-ramp to complex puzzling. It gave us a glass of the kind of experience that Escape My Room typically presents… but not a full bottle.

+ There were a lot of nifty boxes to unlock… which doesn’t mean what you think it means.

+ The puzzles set in darkness forced us to adapt our methods of exploration and communication. This was among the finest dark rooms that we’ve encountered.

– Light bled through the edge of a door. While exits and signage are important, as our eyes adjusted this light bleed eventually let us sort of see each other, diminishing the effect of the darkness.

+/- Smugglers Den felt light dark on content. That said, it had a lot of puzzles for a dark escape room. Perspective played a big role in puzzle satisfaction.

? The search for coins forced us to explore the dark space thoroughly. The puzzles, however, asked us to do the same. We were torn on how much the coins added to the experience beyond the justification of the narrative.

– Escape My Room is the DeLaporte Estate, a beautiful, unusual, designed world. Smugglers Den didn’t fully belong to this world. The detailing and character of Escape My Room’s work comes in large part from the visuals that were essentially absent in this game. We missed the magic of the Escape My Room aesthetic.

– When the game ended, the lights came back on and we saw the unthemed puzzle room that we had been locked within. It really shattered the magic. We wished we would have exited back into the world of the DeLaportes and let the darkness of Smugglers Den remain a mystery.

– At 45 minutes and with a much smaller gamespace and far less set design, Smugglers Den was priced the same as Escape My Room’s longer and more detailed games. This presented a problem that’s not easily solvable. If they were to lower the price, this game for more advanced players would attract more newbies, but as fun as it was, it didn’t feel like the same value as the much more grand Inventor’s Attic.

+ The final puzzle came together unexpectedly. This was absolutely one of the high points of Smugglers Den.

+ Smugglers Den was a ton of fun. It was dark, but not at all scary. It was playful, strange, and exciting.

Tips for Visiting

  • There is so much amazing cuisine in the neighborhood. We highly recommend Mother’s and Cochon.
  • All players must be comfortable in darkness and able to crawl a short distance.

Book your hour with Escape My Room’s Smugglers Den, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Disclosure: Escape My Room comped our tickets for this game.

Thoughts on Escape, Immerse, Explore New Orleans

Escape, Immerse, Explore New Orleans collected 42 people from 17 states, who traveled 72,000 miles, to ride 2 buses and played a total of 63 games across southeastern Louisiana.

The purple, gold, and blue Escape Immerse Explore New Orleans Logo

The player satisfaction surveys showed an overwhelmingly positive response. The attendees loved the games and one another.

Randy of Escape Rumors published an incredible writeup/ review of the tour.

Player Variety

We had players on the tour who had crossed the 400-game threshold. We also had a number of folks who had previously visited fewer than 10 escape rooms and literally doubled their play-count on the trip.

Lisa's bus gathered for a group photo at RISE.
Lisa’s Bus

We’ve always tried to help players find the escape rooms that fit their taste, skill, play style, and comfort level. After running two escape room tours, we are confident that we’re onto something.

David's bus gathered for a group photo at RISE.
David’s Bus

The escape room player community is growing and it isn’t monolithic. This diverse group of people really are attracted to different things in escape rooms.

Mighty Games

We featured a wide variety of games ranging from the more traditional escape rooms of Clue Carré, to the immersive world of Escape My Room, to the beautifully executed games of Rise, to the dumbfounding set design of 13th Gate.

Each company offered something different. Each also offered at least one game that topped someone’s list as their very favorite game of the tour.

The Tour featured 13th Gate’s Cutthroat Cavern, a game that many would consider a curve-breaker. In a lot of ways, it was. Nearly half of the players reported it as their favorite game of the tour. That sentiment, however, was not universal.

This is no knock against 13th Gate. It’s a testament to how much room there is to create unique experiences that can be loved by different people for different reasons.

Of the 14 escape rooms featured on the tour, each of these 6 topped at least one player’s list:

Exactly half the featured games rose to the top as favorites. There isn’t one best way to create an escape room!

Creating Community

It was heartwarming to see these folks come together to play games, set records, have fun, share stories of favorite games, and laugh over terrible escape room experiences.

The games are fun, but for us, escape rooms are about the people that we share them with.

We met so many incredible people with different backgrounds, stories, experiences, and other interests.

The Experiment Continues

We’re working on what comes next. Where else can we go? What games will we showcase? What other formats can we tinker with to bring this community together?

The Escape Immerse Explore Tours of New York and New Orleans were both massive experiments… albeit experiments that Lisa and I obsessively thought through, from game line up, to transportation, to the puzzle that we hid in the welcome information and sealed in wax… but it was still mad science.

We thank all of those who popped the stopper off of the Erlenmeyer flask and joined us in drinking this crazy concoction.

Through this we’ve learned so much about player behavior and running events. We have many more ideas for how to deliver an even better experience.

We had the best weekend with all of y’all and we cannot wait to do it again.

If you were not able to attend New York or New Orleans and you would like to receive an email announcement for the next tour, please contact us.

13th Gate Escape – Cutthroat Cavern [Review]

Cutthroat Cavern is one of the best games in the Baton Rouge area. Here are our other recommendations for great escape rooms around New Orleans/Baton Rouge.

Update: If you want to hear more about Cutthroat Cavern back us on Patreon at the “Search Win!” level to get access to a Spoiler’s Club Episode about this game. Reality Escape Pod co-hosts David and Peih-Gee talk all about it, spoilers and all.

“Goonies never say die!”

Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Date Played: June 23, 2018

Team size: 4-10; we recommend 5-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Ticketing: Public

REA Reaction

13th Gate Escape’s Cutthroat Cavern brought to life the joyous Goonies fantasy that I’ve harbored since childhood. It was filled with massive interactions in an epic set with every detail and surface lovingly handcrafted.

Since opening a few months ago, we’ve received a steady stream of messages along the lines of, “Cutthroat Cavern is my new favorite escape room!” It only takes a few minutes of playing it to see why… and then a few more minutes to really understand.

I will never forget the world of Cutthroat Cavern; there’s a part of me that will always long to return. It is worth traveling to visit this escape room.

In-game: a large stone wall with a massive skull carved into it. The skull's eyes glow with fire.
Image via 13th Gate Escape

Who is this for?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Players with some experience
  • Players who don’t need to be a part of every puzzle
  • Goonies

Why play?

Cutthroat Cavern was an incredible adventure-driven game from the set, to the events, to the effects, to the overwhelming scale. If you’re physically capable of playing it, you should.


While hiking, we had come across caves known as the Cutthroat Caverns. Our guide explained that they had been used to perform human sacrifices by the Mayans. Furthermore, legend told of a pirate who had used the caves as his secret hideout.

We had asked about descending down into the caves and the guide had refused to go, but had told us how to get there… with a warning: “Around dusk the high tide would flood the caves… and if we were still inside, we wouldn’t survive.” We had ignored the warnings and had hiked towards the caves. Then the ground had given way beneath our feet and we had tumbled into an ancient chamber.

In-game: three skulls resting on a pedestal inside of Mayan ruins.
Image via 13th Gate Escape


Cutthroat Cavern was built as a cave with a series of chambers. We began in a compact and focused area. From there the set expanded dramatically.

I can’t bring myself to explain the space in any level of detail as discovery is the most impactful part of this experience.

Suffice to say, it was grand on a scale that – to the best of my knowledge – is unrivaled in the escape room world. It even topped Tomb of Anubis in the jaw-dropping reveals department.

Finally, while the Cutthroat Cavern may be massive, 13th Gate Escape minded the tiniest of details.

In-game: Wooden ship wheel with a skeletal hand pointing at the top of the wheel.
Image via 13th Gate Escape


13th Gate Escape’s Cutthroat Cavern was an escape room of epic scale with a higher level of difficulty. It played like a traditional room, but I hesitate to call it standard because so much of it was so unusual.

Core gameplay revolved around searching, puzzling, and embracing the adventure. If you don’t stop to smell the roses a bit, you’re doing it wrong.


+ Cutthroat Cavern was as gigantic as it was epic. It inspired a sense of adventure. This experience was about as close to living in The Goonies as I suspect I’ll get for some time.

In-game: The carved wooden figurehead of a winged woman on the bow of bow of an old ship.
Image via 13th Gate Escape

+ Considering its size, 13th Gate Escape did a smart job of creating a straightforward and intimate on-ramp. They slowly rolled out access to the environment, preventing the escape room from feeling too overwhelming.

+ The aesthetic formula at play in Cutthroat Cavern is: micro + macro = real. 13th Gate Escape used overwhelming scale along with fine detail to produce a jaw-dropping gamespace.

+ Cutthroat Cavern had one of the coolest interactions that I’ve ever seen in an escape game. It was the kind of thing that if 99% of escape room companies built it, they would design a full game around the mechanic and continuously loop through it in creative ways (and that would probably make for a cool game). 13th Gate used this for a single puzzle.

+ The puzzles and flow were generally strong. They presented fair challenges that fit comfortably within the environment and story. Most of the puzzles weren’t revolutionary, but they worked fantastically within the fiction… and then there was the one puzzle that was really revolutionary.

– One puzzle was particularly finicky and required strong visual acuity paired with a precise touch. Another puzzle was particularly difficult to find.

+ There was a lot of sand in Cutthroat Cavern. This isn’t a spoiler, as 13th Gate Escape told us upfront that there would come a point where we should remove our shoes. I wasn’t convinced that this would be great… but it was. We ran around barefoot like giddy children.

+ Cutthroat Cavern had fantastic cutscene-like physical events that really highlighted the beauty and grandeur of the set. We stopped gameplay and turned our attention to these sequences. It was worth it.

– It was possible, and occasionally easy, to completely miss some of the crazy interactions in Cutthroat Cavern.

+ Our biggest knock against 13th Gate Escape’s past games was the use of Escape Room Boss to manage the game clock and hinting. While Escape Room Boss was still the system managing those aspects of the game, it was completely invisible to the players. 13th Gate Escape created an innovative approach to remove the burden of Escape Room Boss from the players. I wouldn’t have thought of this solution and my hat is off to them for thinking it up. In its place, they designed a conceptually integrated hint system for Cutthroat Cavern.

– In practice, the hint system was far too difficult to understand. Whenever our team received a hint, each player had their own interpretation of what they’d heard — not what the hint meant, but the words that had been spoken. We respect in-game realism, but recommend scaling back just a bit to improve usability and dramatically reduce player frustration.

+ Win or lose, Cutthroat Cavern delivered a proper conclusion to the story (although it sounded like the loss conclusion was more badass.)

– Many of us didn’t realize that we had won the game. We had to confirm that the game clock had stopped before we could fully devote our attention to the finale.

+ This was the most visually-arresting, over-the-top adventure escape room that I’ve seen to date.

Tips for Visiting

  • Parking: 13th Gate Escape has ample parking in a lot across the street.
  • Food: Head to downtown Baton Rouge (close by) for a great meal.
  • Accessibility: To fully enjoy this game, you need to have mobility on sand. This escape room also requires at least one player who is good on their feet and moderately fit.

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

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