The Ultimate Escape Game – Dead by Dawn [Review]

“Give me back my hand!”

Location: Dallas, TX

Date Played: March 27, 2022

Team Size: 2-8; we recommend 2-4

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $25.99 – $35.99, depending on the number of players

Ticketing: Private

Accessibility Consideration: One player must crawl

Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock

Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints

REA Reaction

As the room’s title suggests, Dead by Dawn was inspired by the cult classic Evil Dead 2. Instead of a blatant riff on the movie, this room offered a more subtle homage. The set mimicked the infamous cabin, and the overarching motivation for our quest followed Evil Dead lore, but most puzzles and props seemed to fall into the more generic space of campy horror. One could interpret some of these as opaque references, but even then it felt like part of the movie’s essence was missing. With the appropriate expectations, this isn’t a bad thing, especially for a broader audience. Indeed, the room was approachable as an unintimidating intro to horror rooms.

A wood cabin with an assortment of items in front including a toolbox, a wagon wheel, and a barrel.

For enthusiasts who have played many rooms, many of the puzzles and reveal mechanisms here will be familiar. Players encountering them for the first time will be delighted, and more experienced players might still enjoy them as part of a quick-paced series of solves and some spookily playful set interactions. Also, the final puzzle was fresh and challenging. We spent quite a while analyzing it afterwards.

This would be a good room for local players to share with newbie friends. If you’re looking for a more challenging experience, try the Ultimate Escape Game’s Fallout or Flight 2157.

Who is this for?

  • Scenery snobs
  • Fans of campy horror
  • Newbies

Why play?

  • For a palatable introduction to horror rooms
  • To try out one particularly uncommon and interesting puzzle

Story

A mysterious man sent us out to a suspicious cabin in search of his severed hand…and the Book of the Dead. He offered to pay us handsomely in return. We, being greedy fools, accepted the challenge, only to learn that if we failed in this quest, we would be dead by dawn.

Closeup of a toolbox, a wagon wheel, and a barrel.

Setting

We embarked on this challenge in the middle of the woods, outside of a creepy cabin, at night. This ambiance was accompanied by low lighting and a haunting soundscape. Although this set had its fair share of creepy imagery, it was campy in nature, with nothing overly gruesome. There were no jump scares.

Fans of Evil Dead 2 will recognize the cabin, a couple of key props, and a few special details. However, the majority of the room and its puzzles were not tightly tied to the movie, making the experience more of an homage to generic horror tropes.

A pair of graves with landscaping tools leaning against the headstones. A garden gnome sits beside one grave.

Gameplay

The Ultimate Escape Game’s Dead by Dawn was a standard escape room with a low to moderate level of difficulty.

Puzzles required searching, observation, making simple connections, and a willingness to experiment with the materials.

Analysis

βž• The set made an appropriate first impression – foreboding but inviting at the same time.

βž• To introduce each room while conveniently transporting tools like flashlights and writing utensils, The Ultimate Escape Game gave us a thematic “go bag.” For Dead by Dawn, we got this tackle box.

Closeup of a bloodied tacklebox.

❓ Unlike the title, goal, and general setting of the room, the puzzles were not clearly tied to Evil Dead 2. Some may be loosely associated with movie elements, but upon first impression they seemed more like generic horror puzzles.

βž– Other than matching code length to lock digits, there was sometimes little connection between the codes we discovered and the locks they unlocked.

βž• We enjoyed the small animatronic touches in this room. They were playful and unexpected, enhancing the spookiness of the experience.

βž• One particular reveal hit the perfect level of dread for anyone trepidatious about horror rooms. It was sufficiently ominous without inciting panic.

βž– One multi-layered puzzle felt overly self-confirming, leading us to believe it was complete when it was not.

βž• /βž–The final puzzle was by far the most interesting mental challenge of the room and one of the standout puzzles among all the rooms at The Ultimate Escape Game. It required its own brand of discovery, a team strategy for learning, and a methodical dedication for execution. We felt both accomplished and relieved afterwards. That same final puzzle would benefit from more people and puzzling experience than the rest of the room, making it feel somewhat out of place. It may kill momentum at a critical time.

Tips For Visiting

  • There is a parking lot.
  • Many restaurants in this area close at 8pm on weeknights. Zoli’s Pizza does not, so we’ve enjoyed it every time we’ve visited The Ultimate Escape Game.

Book your hour with The Ultimate Escape Game’s Dead by Dawn, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

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