Dead Air

7.6 Overall
Room Quality
Puzzle Design
Fun Factor
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Dead Air

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Located just minutes from the majestic Niagara Falls on the Canadian side of the border, you’ll find The Crux Niagara. Enthusiasts may remember that name as this is an expansion from their flagship location in Hamilton, Ontario. The location was incredibly easy to find, and there was even a bench advert indicating where to turn at the highway exit. We were excited to be invited to review Dead Air, which we had heard many good things about in advance. Our previous experiences with the game designer of Dead Air assured us it was safe to assume a certain level of quality… Did these expectations hold to be true? Were we rockin’ to the classics, or did we leave feeling like video killed the radio star? Read on…

The pre-room experience was a great start. The location is easy to find, there was plenty of available parking, and the lobby is nothing short of a board gamer’s paradise with more choices than the average board game store for purchase or play! Snacks and drinks are available, and the staff is a collection of slightly shy and polite young adults. There are several tables and chairs available to play games or to wait for your escape room. The pre-story was particularly fun, and without giving too much away will remind anyone (over the age of 40) of their youthful days of sitting in front of their radio listening to their favourite AM station! We were definitely in the right mood to start this adventure!

The room quality of Dead Air showed attention to detail. Everything from the props, to the posters on the walls, to the little nuances of what you’d find in a radio station of days gone by. Every little thing just felt like it was meant to be there. Again no spoilers but to fully appreciate the room, be sure to try and spot the subtle pop and classic rock references throughout. The room materials were solid, there were no wires or odd construction bits left about, and things such as lighting and sound were pretty good. An overall impressively built room!

The immersion was tricky for us to identify. We really enjoyed the atmosphere, the attention to detail, the consistent theme, but we also felt a bit disconnected from the story and a sense of anticipation or anxiety. This doesn’t mean it was a bad story, rather it’s almost as if the story was lost because of the impressive details in other areas. Upon finishing the game we asked for clarification on some of plot, but when explained it made sense. One of the focal points players should pay attention to is the ambient audio track. If your concentration is similar to ours, you’ll be accustomed to tuning out ambient sounds as you focus on puzzles, but for Dead Air, the immersion and fun is partly found in the audio. You’ll also gain a better connection to the story the more you listen, so be sure to avoid what may come natural if you’re a focused thinker. Overall it was a decent immersive experience.

Which takes us to puzzles… it should come as no surprise that if a room is built with as much detail as Dead Air is, the puzzles wouldn’t be too far off. And they weren’t! The puzzles were straight forward, easy to understand, and nothing that required any leaps in logic or specialized knowledge. There was a nice selection of puzzle types and skills utilized, and they remained in theme and context which again is another fine detail worth noting. Those seeking an intentional team-building component may wish there was a bit more offered, but this is offset by the inclusive nature of all the puzzles so it’s not as much of an issue as with most other escape rooms.

And the part where many people skip to in our reviews…was it fun? To quote the designer himself: ‘‘This room is great as an introductory experience as to what escape rooms should be like.’’ We completely agree! We enjoyed it, but we can certainly understand this room was built for a broader audience than reviewers like us who have done several hundreds of escape rooms. The details are great, the atmosphere is genuine, and the puzzles are straight forward with no need to have previously played an escape room. Could there have been a bit more ‘‘Wow!’’ factor involved? Sure, but this can be said of most rooms so it’s hardly a critique as it is a caution to set your expectations accordingly. Dead Air is a good room to check out unless you’re looking for something you’ve never seen before within the industry. This is particularly a good room to come see if you’re with family, co-workers, or friends who have been bugging you to show them what escape rooms are all about. 🙂

We want to hear your thoughts! Be sure to comment in the section below or send us a message via ERA’s email, Facebook, or Twitter… As always, happy escaping!

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