The Diamond Dogs – Clue Cracker – Tunbridge Wells

Present, in February 2022, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant

Any Escape Room, I reckon, can be enhanced by having a bar, restaurant or cafe attached. Somewhere to warm up in anticipation or to cool down, decompress and debrief really makes the whole escaping session into more of an all-round experience. And our Clue Cracker experience got off to a cracking (sorry) start at The Shuffle House, a fabulous restaurant whose very pretty courtyard leads through to two of the three current Clue Cracker games. Posh pizza, incredible tapas plates, fun cocktails and irresistible desserts meant we were well-fed and watered before attempting the second and third games of our Kent Escape Room binge.

The Diamond Dogs is maybe not a room to attempt on an empty stomach or with an alcohol-fuzzy brain (fortunately we were ok, recovery gin came later). Award-winning, Terpeca-rated, we knew we were in for a challenge playing as a two, but I don’t think we ever would have guessed quite how expansive, dramatic and adrenaline-pumping this is. Set pieces that would be the main showcase in many other games were here simply an extra aside thrown in, as the rooms unspool in an increasingly frantic manner. Our time of four seconds remaining will give you a much better idea than any description could!

The team at Clue Cracker have backgrounds in theatrical arts and this shines through, from the strong plot to the classy, coherent sets. It is particularly noticeable in one of the joys of the game – the voiced segments which propel the narrative and provide fantastically engaged in-character clues (take a bow, GM Amy, with a shout out to Zac too). If the brilliantly tactile surroundings somehow didn’t completely immerse you, the acting certainly would.

Diamond Dogs is a heist game and manages to be a bit of a hybrid between “steal the thing” and “steal as much as you can”. I was really impressed by this idea as it gives extra play time to larger teams (or those who aren’t quite so close to the wire) without making the game impossible for less experienced groups. There is a lot to do, sometimes with heightened tension, but is never unfair.

As hardened criminals committing grand larceny, maybe this isn’t an automatic recommendation for groups of kids, and the puzzle content is quite sophisticated, so would be a big challenge for smaller ones. However, there are plenty of elements for younger people to enjoy and thrive upon – we certainly wished we had a teenager or two to help us out. Mixed aged groups would do better here than just kids.

If you love a good heist movie, this crime caper is definitely for you. It mixes a compelling storyline with playful humour and some classic Escape Room puzzling that is framed to fit seamlessly into the narrative. Add in a few dramatic tricks and specific effects to up the tension and you have a fantastic, atmospheric, fun and challenging hour. If you are like us, you’ll need almost every last second and you’ll love every single one. But we really needed that gin afterwards to recover from a sparkling 24-carat game.

  • Storyline: A daring theft, keeping one step ahead of the cops, to please your frankly scary criminal overlord.
  • Theming and Set: Incredibly well-done, absolutely on the money.
  • Searching: Plenty of observation, and yes, a fair bit of searching.
  • Puzzles: Strong, hugely varied, classic Escape Room challenges.
  • Physicality: A little, although we were mostly breathless from the adrenaline.
  • Scare factor: Gets quite loud and tense, without being deliberately scary.
  • Company Age Guidance: “age 8 and up although any children age 12 and under will need to be accompanied in the game by a responsible adult”.
  • Age suitability: Personally, I would say that unless you have very mature 13/14 year olds, you’d need an adult on the team, and any under 10s would need to be fairly robust. But an unforgettable family experience.

Clue Cracker website