Room Escapers – Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship [Review]

The search for more booty.

Location: Boston, MA

Date played: October 2, 2017

Team size: 2-10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $30 per ticket

Story & setting

In this sequel to Room Escapers’ first game, Pirate’s Booty, a disgruntled former employee of the Cape Cod Treasure Hunters hired us to plunder a recently rediscovered pirate ship. With a hurricane bearing down on New England, we had an hour to liberate an estimated $1 billion in gold or face the wrath of the storm.

In-game: A shot in the ships galley, a table full of candles, a skeleton in the background.

Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship was largely set on a pirate ship. While portions of the set were recycled from Room Escapers’ first game, this was an entirely new experience. New puzzles. New narrative. New game.

Puzzles

Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship upped the puzzle difficulty. We had made fairly quick work of Room Escapers’ earlier games, but in this one, we really earned our victory.

Additionally, there were bonus bags of treasure hidden throughout the escape room.

Standouts

Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship got the action going quickly using a technique that Room Escapers pioneered last year in Naughty or Nice. It’s a good trick. The encore wasn’t a bad thing, but if you’re familiar with their most recent offering, you’ll also see it coming.

In-game: A shot in the ships galley of a skeleton.

The set was a big step up from their previous room escapes.

There was whole a lot to do. Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship kept us busy.

The hurricane game clock fit right in.

The in-character hint system was effective and well integrated into the escape room.

We particularly enjoyed the more tangible and thematic puzzles, of which there were many.

Finding gold was an entertaining way to expand the adventure and encourage participation without requiring every team to solve the game to 100% completion.

This was a funny escape room. Room Escapers has an enjoyably unsophisticated sense of humor and they are not afraid to use it.

Shortcomings

A few puzzle flow and gating issues sprang from having access to puzzle components and clues related to them too early. With a large team, someone inevitably wasted a lot of time investigating an item that was completely useless at that moment. This was frustrating.

In the escape room briefing, our gamemaster introduced us to a guide book. He flat out told us to read it from cover to cover. The guide book game mechanic generally causes frustration, especially in large team games. Room Escapers did it better than most by giving us multiple copies and thus avoiding the usual guide book bottleneck. That said, we still had to read and retain information that we might want to apply later, which wasn’t particularly fun. We also continually had to retrieve guide books as we progressed throughout the ship. Every time I encounter one of these guide books, I find myself wishing that the clues were more integrated into the set, rather than tacked on with a book.

There was a climax to Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship, but it fizzled a little. There’s opportunity to do more with it.

Should I play Room Escapers’ Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship?

Room Escapers has come a long way since they set sail with the original Pirate Booty. Each subsequent room escape from them has been more interesting and ambitious. Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship continued that trajectory.

This escape room was fun, funny, and kept us busy until the very end.

Newbies should go in ready to make use of the well-integrated hint system and experienced players should attack this ship humbly yet aggressively. There was a lot to do. It was fair, but it was not easy.

Puzzle hard or you’ll walk the plank.

Book your hour with Room Escapers’ Pirate’s Booty II: The Lost Ship, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: Room Escapers comped our tickets for this game.

 

Room Escapers – Naughty, or Nice? [Review]

Grand Theft Naughty List.

Location: Boston, MA

Date played: December 10, 2016

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 6-8

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Story & setting

Our names made it onto Santa’s Naughty List.

Santa had left the building and it was now our team’s chance to break into the old man’s workshop and swap our forged naughty list for the real one. It was a risky heist, but with quality presents at risk, we had to take action.

The setting was bright, festive, and more red, green, and white than Boston’s North End. The room was pretty hacked together. However, the aesthetic and build quality greatly exceeded what we were expecting from a temporary seasonal game.

In-game, close-up of the Naughty List.
The book of judgements.

In a word, it was adorable.

Puzzles

There was a lot to find and solve in Naughty, or Nice?.

The game flowed smoothly from start to finish. It wasn’t a particularly challenging game, and our experienced team ripped through it like a puzzling tornado. There were, however, a few moments that made us slow down and one that nearly tripped us up.

Standouts

In our review of Room Escapers’ first game, Pirate’s Booty, we were underwhelmed by the start of the game. It wasn’t until we were halfway through the room escape that it turned into something interesting. Oh my, was that problem solved in Naughty, or Nice?. We were genuinely surprised by the opening moments of the game.

The theming work was super cute and Room Escapers seriously committed to it. The staff members wore fetching elf costumes and the lobby had been fully decorated in the spirit of the season.

In-game - A fireplace with stockings hanging from it beside a white Christmas tree surrounded by presents.

Everything was overflowing with personality.

Shortcomings

Naughty, or Nice? was a temporary construction and some of it was unpolished and hacked together, but it all worked. The game was fun. A good time was had by all… but there were a lot of little details that were deliberately overlooked due to the impermanence of the game.

Also… it’s a temporary game. As fun as it was, it’s only available for a limited time.

Should I play Room Escapers’ Naughty, or Nice??

Yes, if you’re in the area, Naughty, or Nice? is well worth a playthrough.

If you’re a newbie, it’s an approachable, bright, and cheery game.

If you’re an experienced player, it’s adorably inventive and does a few things differently.

Naughty, or Nice? should be open through most of January. Grab tickets while you can.

Book your hour with Room Escapers’ Naughty, or Nice?, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: We traded Room Escapers a handpicked selection of excellent IPAs for tickets to this game.

Room Escapers – Pirate’s Booty [Review]

Boston’s starrrt-up scene.

Location: Boston, MA

Date played: August 27, 2016

Team size: up to 10; we recommend 4-6

Duration: 60 minutes

Price: $28 per ticket

Story & setting

Cape Cod Treasure Hunters (CCTH) is recruiting daring treasure hunters like you to break into the offices of a local tech startup company, activate their prototype time machine, and travel back in time in search of pirate treasure.

It seemed like a whacky set up: time travel treasure hunting.

We were searching for real treasure that had already been found off the coast of Boston (in real life). In order to find it, we would have to travel back in time and retrieve it before the people who already found it. Time travel is wacky.

This was a clever setup to make us participants in a historical, local adventure.

Initially the game’s setting was large, nondescript, and aesthetically boring. As the game escalated we found ourselves in a pirate ship set. This would typically be a spoiler, but Room Escapers’ website makes it clear that this is the heart of the game. The ship was a far more impressive environment.

The ship was a pretty solid set, not mind blowing, but leaps and bounds more interesting than where we had started.

Three pirates sharing a drink in the game's ship.
Image via by Room Escapers

Puzzles

The puzzles in Pirate’s Booty followed standard patterns of a designer’s early work. This was especially true in the first part of the game. As with the set, the puzzles became more interesting once we were aboard the ship.

They drew on a variety of skill sets, but much of the difficulty stemmed from searching thoroughly and connecting puzzle elements to each other.

Standouts

Pirate’s Booty included a few neat interactions that elevated it beyond basic room escape design.

This game escalated. It started with relatively unexciting puzzles in a mundane setting. When we traveled back in time to find our treasure, we found a more exciting set with more engaging puzzles.

Our charismatic gamemaster was superb. His hinting was on point.

Room Escapers cleverly mixed Boston’s tech startup scene with its colonial history.

Shortcomings

Room Escapers was still fine-tuning some of their puzzles. The puzzles weren’t particularly challenging, but in some instances, they hadn’t quite nailed that sweet spot between easy and opaque.

Pirate’s Booty lacked polish. At times, it still felt like an art project rather than a refined game.

The time travel component was a great concept, but Room Escapers should commit to making a time travel research lab that feels like an exciting place to visit in order to make this aspect of it work. Given what they have constructed, it almost would have been better to drop us directly onto the pirate ship.

Should I play Room Escapers’ Pirate’s Booty?

Pirate’s Booty became a fun adventure, but it didn’t start out as one.

It may need some additional refinement, both in aesthetic and puzzle design, but its fundamental components worked. It ultimately delivered a sense of adventure and some truly delightful moments.

Pirate’s Booty highlighted its location in downtown Boston by virtue of a historical story. Room Escapers did something special and unusual mixing Boston’s past and present. Hats off to them for it.

This wasn’t the most challenging escape room. If you play a lot of these games, it should play out pretty quickly. But if you’re new to this type of entertainment, this is a great introductory room.

If you’re bringing children, note that this game escalates quite a bit. It’s not horror by any means, but the pirate ship has a few props that might frighten little ones.

Note that the version of this game that we reviewed will be available through October 19, 2016. Room Escapers will be revamping it and rereleasing it shortly thereafter.

Book your hour with Room Escapers’ Pirate’s Booty, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.

Full disclosure: We traded Room Escapers a handpicked selection of excellent IPAs for tickets to this game.