“That belongs in a museum!”
Location: Crawley, England
Date Played: January 9, 2023
Team size: 2-7; we recommend 3-4
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: from £64 per team of 2 to £161 per team of 7
Accessibility Consideration: There are stairs up to the game. At least one person will need to go up a ladder.
Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock
Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints
While we’ve played a lot of Indiana Jones-inspired escape rooms, this one stood out. The Explorer’s Diary was memorable not for the puzzles or the set design (both of which delivered), but for the moments of glory and laughter shared amongst friends. This escape room had an exciting finale. The puzzles required teamwork, build upon previous scenes, and tapped into an array of skill sets. One set-based effect moved against our expectations.
There was room to refine this last act, especially with regard to one prop that we just couldn’t take seriously, even in a playful game.
But overall, The Explorer’s Diary felt like an adventure, one where the stakes got bigger as we pushed forward, which is what everyone expects from an ancient (and thus, likely cursed) dig site.
Crawley is only 45 minutes south of London by train. With quite a few games in the area, it’s worth the trip. If you visit, The Explorer’s Diary should be on your to-play list.
Who is this for?
- Puzzle lovers
- Scenery snobs
- Indiana Jones fans
- Any experience level
- Strong in-character gamemaster
- Dramatic sequences
We’d been hired to follow the research of famous, missing adventurer Sir Benjamin Diggit. We started by investigating his tent outside of a dig site in Peru, and adventure ensued.
The set was well built and packed a lot into a small footprint. It took us through a few scene changes. Each area had a distinct identity.
Hounds’ The Explorer’s Diary was a standard escape room with a moderate level of difficulty.
Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, and solving puzzles.
➕/➖ We were introduced to The Explorer’s Diary by an in-character gamemaster. They played a role in relation to the characters in the escape room, which helped set up the experience. This introduction took place first downstairs and again right outside the game. Then, once inside the escape room, we were presented with a video introduction as well. That took the introducing too far.
➕ The set looked good. It immediately transported us to another place and time. As we solved, it continued to evolve, increasing the feeling of adventure. The set felt more expansive than it was.
➕ The puzzle flow was smooth. We especially enjoyed puzzles in the second and third act that required teamwork. Although there was a fair bit of ciphering, it didn’t feel excessive, and it had a rewarding payoff.
➖ While most of the puzzles were fully clued, we were surprised at one deliberate lack of cluing for the sake of challenge. (I love this particular challenge, but I don’t think it is fair in an escape room.)
➖ The Explorer’s Diary handed us what appeared to be a ghost puzzle.
➕ The culminating scene was punctuated by large set-based effects. This was pretty exciting.
➖ One central prop undermined the otherwise fantastic finale with fake, forced movement.
➕ The Explorer’s Diary didn’t take itself too seriously. It pranked us more than once, and we laughed along with it.
Tips For Visiting
- Check in at the Kennel Klub speakeasy style mini-bar at the Hounds venue.
- There is plenty of parking nearby.
Book your hour with Hounds’ The Explorer’s Diary, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Disclosure: Hounds provided media discounted tickets for this game.