Dig Baton Rouge

13th Gate Escape introduces new room

With flashlights in hand, a group of plucky youths was transported down a dimly lit hall to enter an Egyptian world. Excitement and adrenaline coursed through their veins as they found themselves in a lost tomb of an ancient pharaoh. However, nervous dread kicked in when they found the remains of a previous visitor, and then realized they couldn’t go back the way they came.
Among the remains, a journal is found. It’s the only real clue given before they are given the task to solve a strange-looking puzzle to find their way out. In the small space, they have to work together with their group if they have any chance of making it out of there before they become part of the tomb as well.
With a sudden turning of the symbols, they hear the voice of the ancient pharaoh himself, proclaiming that he will come for them should they fail to escape within one hour.
Where is Indiana Jones when you need him?
If you’re the type of person who is always looking for a way to escape the mundane aspects of everyday life and live out an adventure, then an escape game might be for you. Patrons enter a room and are given clues to help solve riddles and puzzles within an hour. Tomb of Anubis is the latest in escape rooms at the 13th Gate Escape, created by the masterminds behind the 13th Gate Haunted House.
A thrilling, immersive experience, the Tomb of Anubis opened this past June. This escape room isn’t the first by the 13th Gate Escape, but it might be the most advanced. After the success of 13th Gate Escape’s premiere rooms, Death Row and The Collector, 13th Gate owner Dwayne Sanburn decided for the next room to be taken to the next level, building it twice as big as the other rooms, and twice as complicated. It has been in continuous, nonstop development since November last year, and the response has been positive.
“It’s been fantastic,” Sanburn said. “We just kept adding cool stuff. A lot of people have been waiting for it. It took us a little longer to build than we hoped for, so a lot of people had been waiting for a while. It’s pretty complex. It took us a long time to build.”
It was Sanburn’s main goal to make the new room more immersive and exciting for people.
“Everyone loves Indiana Jones and movies like that so I know people want to experience that sort of stuff, so we’re trying to build in as much wow factor as we can into our games,” Sanburn said. “People love to find the secret passage and get into the next section, and have experiences you only see in the movies.”
And with a four percent success rate, this is the most challenging of the escape room selections yet.
“When we started it, it was a little bit harder, so we tweaked it a bit,” Sanburn said. “We adjusted things as people play, but we try to catch it all in beta testing. We had to make a few more adjustments to make it as perfect as possible. It’s a big game.”
The attention to detail in the game will astound visitors as the production value is the same quality that can be found in the 13th Gate Haunted House. But according to Sanburn, that attention to detail is also meant for finding the delicate balance to provide gamers a challenge but not make it too difficult.
“It’s all about putting the right clues in place,” Sanburn said. “There are several different types of puzzles in that game. Some of them are easy, but there are some that are more of a challenge…you have to have a mix of puzzles to make it interesting and challenging for people.”
Sanburn has a lot of ideas for rooms he wants to create, but Tomb of Anubis was at the top of the list as Egypt has always been a favorite theme for him to explore in the 13th Gate. A few sculptures, statues and items were pulled from the 13th Gate warehouse and were integrated into the new room.
“From a design standpoint, I wanted to build a room that was completely different from the other two,” Sanburn said. “That’s my goal; it’s to try to build things that are different from the others, so each one is a completely different experience. And I also wanted to build a room that didn’t have any English in the room. Something that was a lot more realistic than what we’ve done before.”
Along with the theme of Egypt, ruins are also a favorite design element for the team.
“We like to do ruins,” Sanburn said. “Our next room, Agent 13, is gonna be Mayan ruins…we’re excited to get started on that. You can build in a lot of cool puzzles that way and a lot of mystery.”
And even more, rooms are expected later this year, including Cutthroat Cavern, a pirate adventure and The Asylum, which takes place in a haunted, mental asylum. The response of each of the rooms created by the 13th Gate has been fantastic according to Sanburn. People who have played one game end up playing the rest of the games, sometimes more than once.
“People love escape games…They’re very addictive. It’s a unique, new form of entertainment. It’s a lot of fun to play with a group of friends or colleagues. People have forgotten how to play together; they’re always on their cell phones. This forces them to work together and communicate. It’s definitely a fun challenge.”
If you ever want a barometer for how well a group of people get along and work together, this is it.


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