The Diamond Hunt – Puzzlescape – Dereham

Present, January 2018, were: The Ant, Aunty Ant, Jack-Jack, Lioness, Parker, Amazing J, Catwoman, Mr Catwoman

It is reassuring to me that Escape Rooms have reached unlikely corners of the country like Dereham in Norfolk.  And not even recently – we first went to Puzzlescape nearly two years ago, before the real boom in the number of venues hit.  It is fabulous that a small, enthusiast-driven company can set up shop right in a town centre and make a go of it.  Escape Rooms are not just for the metropolis or for vast out-of-town warehouses; they can thrive on the high street, and I love that. 

I always feel kind of warm and fuzzy towards Puzzlescape, because it has become a newly-minted post-Christmas tradition, full of holiday spirit and party vibe.   The Diamond Hunt was also actually Jack-Jack’s first Room, and the game managers could not have been nicer or more family-friendly (we also had Amazing J in tow).  They really re-enforced my belief that Escape Rooms can be for all ages.  

Check out their Facebook page, where they take the time to do individual write-ups on all their participating teams, with sweetness and humour.

Little bit of a shame, then, that the Diamond Hunt room isn’t really all that.  Puzzlescape aren’t a chain or a franchise, but it is a very standard, by-the-book (if perfectly reasonable) game, lacking the personality of the owners and the location.  The space isn’t overly big, on first impressions, but I suppose the fact that there were eight of us in there and we didn’t kill each other shows that there is sufficient room to breathe.  There was also plenty to do – we were definitely all go.  Mr Catwoman was our only real newbie, so it is a pretty good sign that it managed to keep us all busy (not counting Jack-Jack, who just played CBeebies in a corner).  A fairly first gen level room; lots of searching, lots of puzzles (jigsaws, codes, maths, directions), not much in the way of shocks or surprises.  One horrible, multi-coloured herring of a puzzle that seemed a little unfair.  But solid, rewarding for teamwork, involving for Amazing J (so not over the head of a tweenager), and an entertaining time for all.  

Company is a gem; room, not so much

Maybe I just wanted it to be a little more thrilling or unique than it was, unfairly putting pressure on them to be a paragon of Escape Rooms.  As it is, I wouldn’t really recommend going out of your way to try The Diamond Hunt at Puzzlescape.  But for anyone in the vicinity, supporting this local, independent company in a convivial atmosphere is time well spent.

  • Storyline: I’m not sure there was one, really.
  • Theming and Set: Pleasant enough space, no theming to speak of.
  • Searching: Plenty, satisfying for newbies and youngsters.
  • Puzzles: Fun but conventional.
  • Physicality: Very little, could park yourself on a chair and still join in. 
  • Scare factor: Less than zero.
  • Company Age Guidance: “Children under the age of 8, as part of family groups, love searching and helping adults find clues. We do advise that children under the age of 14 are accompanied by an adult, as our rooms will be difficult to do on their own.”
  • Age suitability: Even quite small creatures could get involved in the searching; puzzle participation possible for 8 or above.

Also at this venue: Edgar The Explorer