You are a band of pirates, hungry for treasure and ready to steal it!
Rumour has it that Captain Bartholomew, a pirate with far too much gold for one person, is currently hiding out on Tortuga.
Capture the Captain, sail across the seas, and find the buried treasure!
Co-Decode’s physical games, Professor Dunstan and Sub Terra are, without question, amongst some of the greatest games we have played, and the company’s print and play Oldervik Series were a bright spot in the dark of the past year. But did you know that it is possible to bring the perfection of a Co-Decode physical game into your home? And with lockdown easing in England enough to allow six people to gather indoors, I can’t think of a better way to make that first get together even more memorable than by hiring Captain’s Treasure.
Captain’s Treasure has largely gone under the radar, and that is, quite frankly, a crime. This is possibly due to the nature of the game – it is portable, but only available to be delivered within the Swindon area. (Captain’s Treasure was so enjoyable, I wouldn’t have been upset if we’d booked an AirBnB within the 20 mile delivery radius just to be able to play.)
Co-Decode describe Captain’s Treasure as “a deluxe portable puzzle experience, lovingly hand-crafted by us,” and I am honestly hard-pressed to find a better way to describe it. From the moment the crates were unveiled, it was clear that this game was a labour of love, and would be unlike any other play at home experience we have had the privilege of playing before. Indeed, with the crates of Captain’s Treasure assembled in our living room, and a soundtrack of suitably piraty music, I was prepared to believe that we had actually uncovered a lost pirate’s treasure.
The concept of the portable escape game is quite simple – it’s an escape game that comes to you, and then goes back again. There are a number of companies offering this service, and the portable games are as varied as those of their permanent cousins. We’ve played a couple portable games now, and due to the first one we played (long ago, before starting this blog), I have a preconceived notion that portable games will be in a series of locked crates. Truthfully, that’s exactly what Captain’s Treasure is. But I have never before encountered a series of locked crates that were anything like the five that comprise this game.
The five crates, from the containers themselves to the contents, are as lovingly handcrafted as claimed, and intricately designed. The crates are not just designed to house the game, but are part of the game. Captain’s Treasure is linear, but with each lock or mechanism we opened, we were often presented with a great deal of information to sort through, providing plenty of opportunities for teams to investigate different things (but if you do you might miss something.)
Despite operating within the confines of the crates and their contents, Captain’s Treasure is surprisingly story driven (if you care to pay attention). The game is divided into two acts, which is not surprising, as within the pirate crates, there is enough content to fill at least two hours, with most teams expected to take three to five, and although there is no time limit (save the 24-hour hire period), Captain’s Treasure had such a lovely flow to it that it managed to create a sense of urgency, as we became entirely absorbed in the game. We never felt as though we were rushing, but the game was so engaging that time flew by as we uncovered Captain Bartholomew’s secrets, ultimately recovering the treasure. (And what a treasure it was!).
Puzzles have always been a highlight of any Co-Decode game, whether physical or in print, and Captain’s Treasure is no different. Simply put, the puzzles throughout the game were a delight to solve and immensely satisfying, from the simplest to the most complex. When we played Professor Dunstan, one of the most memorable things were the clever and intricately crafted mechanisms throughout the game that not only replaced traditional padlocks, but also formed parts of the puzzles themselves, and the crates that contain Captain’s Treasure are full of the same crafty secrets that so impressed us with Co-Decode’s first game. In fact, I lost track of the number of times one or both of us said, “I love that,” upon discovering something new.
Aside from the clever mechanisms, Captain’s Treasure was filled with truly wonderful puzzles and challenges. Every aspect of the game was thematic, and each task forced us to call upon a variety of skills, with logical deduction, lateral thinking, spatial relations, word play, pattern recognition, decoding all playing their parts, plus many more familiar and traditionally escape room-style puzzles blocking the way to the final treasure. There were plenty of brilliant “Ah-Ha!” moments, as we connected the pieces and worked our way through challenges. These were aided by subtle, but perfect sign posting, making every moment of the game a sheer joy to play.
Captain’s Treasure is accompanied by a hint system similar to those of their print and play games; i.e. there won’t be a games master on hand, but rather a series of nudges and hints on the website. This method is as effective here as it is in the Oldervik series, but we found the puzzles to be so intuitive and fair that the only time we needed to resort to the clue page was when one of us (Gord) made a mistake and the other didn’t doublecheck their work, and a quick look at the hints quickly set us back on track.
Should you need a hint, the website provides a breakdown of each puzzle with a series of gradual hints, first to check you’re in the right place and have what you need, then a few nudges, and finally followed by the option to either get a more detailed explanation of how to arrive at a solution yourself, or a detailed explanation of the puzzle and its solution. Don’t worry, thanks to the linear nature of the game and the clues being available only behind a dropdown button, there’s no chance of spoilers if you find you’re stuck.
It would be impossible to talk about Captain’s Treasure without using the words delightful, clever, joyous, or perfection. If you are lucky enough to live close enough to Swindon to hire Captain’s Treasure, pick your date and book it now. No really; Book now. (And if you don’t live close enough, there’s always a minibreak in Swindon to consider.)
If you unfortunately don’t live close enough to Swindon to play this game, then perhaps it’s time to considering moving to Swindon? We hear the property market is pretty good right now.
- Device with internet connection for clues and set up instructions
- Something to take notes
- Calculator (optional)
Value for Money
Team: 2 players
Time Taken: 1hr 52 minutes (ish)
*Disclaimer: we weren’t charged for this experience, but this has not influenced our review.