◣ GAME'S SPECS
💪 Difficulty not specified.
⏲️ 90 minutes duration limit.
🔢 Accommodating 3-6 players, private booking.
💬 Hints available by player's request at host's discretion; incorporated within story narration.
📝 Note potential time difference between your location and the host's (check time zone).
🛒 If you BOOK GAME due to this blog, please give EscapeMattster.com a shout out! ;)
◣ MATTSTER'S TAKE
💪 Difficulty: For Mattster's team of 3, easy, 3/10.
🔢 Ideal Team Size: 3 (adults). Relatively easy and family friendly; minimum required booking of 3 will surely suffice.
🤷♂️ Best Fit For: Younger audience with a penchant for pirates, which shouldn't be hard to find. Because what kid isn't?
🍵 Boils Down To: A pirate narrative that doesn't go quite as expected, but with puzzles that pan out pretty much how you would expect. In other words, delightful story, so-so puzzles, but performed *flawlessly* by great game masters.
🙂 Overall Rating: I liked it! Trapped Puzzle Rooms continue to pump out great audio led escape games, and this one happens to be pirate flavored. It isn't as groundbreaking as I would've liked, but nonetheless remarkable enough.
Hear ye, swashbucklers! Can you remove the curse and get away with the loot? Or will the Dread Pirate Boberts put an end to your piratey ways?
Storytelling • Plunder Blunder
Following the retirement of their dinos filled "Prehistoric Park", as they tend to do after certain bloody incident, Trapped Puzzle Rooms returns with their latest entry of audio led escape game, "Pirate's Plunder". As pirate themed options infamously proliferate in the escape room industry as one of the most common tropes, I shrugged "Plunder" off as yet another treasure hunt I was about to embark on.
Except it was hardly that. "Plunder" tells the story of a reverse treasure discovery, if you will, in which (part of) the supposed reward is given to you point blank within the first minutes of the plot. In more ways blunder than plunder, gleefully accepting a valuable artifact, a beautiful diamond snake idol, from an unfamiliar fellow pirate brings upon misfortune aplenty. A curse befalls upon your poor soul--an unrelenting ghost crew shall recruit one more for their ghastly team--unless you collect 4 more of such idols and return them to their rightful home. Nothing's ever free, is it?
A refreshing twist on the straight--and at times borderline boring--"X marks the spot" booty-seeking quest, "Plunder" avoids pirate clichés and invites the players on a path of redemption, though technically, the mistakes were committed long ago by someone else. Nevertheless, what results is fun and different, which is always exciting to find in an endless sea of pirate games. This game is part island treasure collecting, part local gourmet food tour, and eventually even part Sparrow-Jones crossover adventure; it manages to captivate my attention all the way through.
Pirate's Plunder | Credits: Trapped Puzzle Rooms Audio Escape Adventures
Puzzles • Wholesome One For The Family
Much stood out in my last escape with Trapped in "Prehistoric Park". Somewhere in the midst of of dino manure and projectile vomit sample collecting, I came to fully embrace the ludicrous yet delightful out-of-the-box thinking required for a successful mission. Somewhat unfortunately, this seems to have been dialed back in "Plunder", where more goes according to common sense and less turns out unexpected or wonderfully haywire as I would've hoped.
Still, "Plunder" offers its unique set of pirate island puzzles featuring an interesting cast: token grumpy lady who hates everyone, friendly pub owner who cooks one mean clam chowder, and hungry fisherman in distress who contributes little except waiting for your rescue. (Seriously, man, did you do anything right before my arrival?!) Though the setting is richly illustrated and with tons to interact with, such interaction offers little surprise. A hungry fella, you say? So you feed him somehow. That roughly describes the level of thinking needed to advance (for most the part), which isn't too challenging.
What dipped in puzzle creativity however translated to increased playability: Because even though game design is not as quirky as I would've preferred, it is all-ages friendly and better accommodates users of all experience levels. There is a handful of instances where the challenges get a little more "escape room"-ish, some pattern recognition here, some key word or idea isolation there. Moments like these satisfy the more experienced puzzlers, but because majority of the solutions are so intuitive, even young children can now confidently participate, making "Plunder" a family friendly option.
Pirate's Plunder | Credits: Trapped Puzzle Rooms Audio Escape Adventures
Production • Arrr!-mazing Supporting Talents
Due to the decreased puzzle "difficulty" as discussed, there aren't as many "ah-ha!" moments to procure that thrill that I seek and relish when I overcome a mind-bending riddle. Instead, much of the enjoyment now depends solely from the process; and consequently, the host's performance can potentially and significantly make or break the game.
And to that end, Trapped Puzzle Rooms seems to have recruited some of the finest audio talents available. From both community anecdotes and my own first hand experience, there's a consensus that these expertly trained game masters consistently provide quality sessions. My host is a master of voice shifting, easily modulating his tone to better fit that of a rugged seaman, a dainty old lady, and even a mischievous monkey. Moreover, his experience and (re)flexibility as a D&D Dungeon Master adds on an extra layer of prowess, professionalism, and appeal to an otherwise already decent offering.
Just as impressive, if not arguably more impressive, is the conspicuously and ridiculously well done art work featured throughout. Perhaps it is this exact stunning artistry that has led the past pirates astray. I mean, look at these idols. Who wouldn't steal these beauts? Numerous scenes appear in this pirate adventure--a lot more than expected, I may add even--and every illustration, all a masterpiece each, brings the scenario to life with absolutely eye-pleasing visuals. With art style consistent throughout, these colorful, painting-like graphics steal the show.
Those are pirate hooks, in case you're wondering. | Credits: Trapped Puzzle Rooms Audio Escape Adventures
Though not quite as memorable as the previous giant lizard theme park misadventure, "Pirate's Plunder" exhibits its own distinct charm with exceptional artwork to boot. While I am sure it'd still capture the hearts of many fans, I just really wish they would've pushed the envelope further. Possibly better fitted for a younger and less experienced demographics, this is a decent and welcoming beginners level addition to Trapped's ever-growing roster of impressive audio led escape rooms.
★ Almost every single item/character you come in contact with, you will make use of them. So check 'em off as you go!
★ Those who rarely sail the seas should pay close attention to a certain poster back at the living quarters.
★ Graphics can be saved to your desktop and manipulated on Paint... Something to consider when dealing with maps.
Full disclosure: complimentary game access was generously provided for review or testing purposes. All media are sourced from and credited to rightful owners. No copyright infringement intended. In certain cases, media materials are made available under fair use doctrine of copyright law. TPRPirates.