London, Feb 2017
This pirate-themed room was described both as the easiest one at Breakin’, and the most kid-friendly, for which reason it was last on my list to play. Having now played it, it’s definitely the one I’d suggest for beginners, but it’s also a really fun, solid escape room I’d recommend to anyone.
Most of the rooms at Breakin’ are relatively small, single-room affairs. Dutchman is significantly bigger, with multiple areas and exuberantly over the top decorations. Everything is carefully on theme, with wood and rope and parchment and skeletons. A high proportion of the locks use maglocks and other invisible mechanisms implemented smoothly enough to allow the illusion of a haunted ship responding by ‘magic’.
Most of the Breakin’ rooms have a significant skill-based sequence. This has a particularly large one. It’s pretty spectacular and great fun, but I suspect it’ll outstay its welcome for many groups. Since it only works for two or maybe three players at a time, enthusiasts should definitely try to play this game as a small group – otherwise this section will turn into a huge and frustrating bottleneck. It’s a superb, original idea that fits the room beautifully, but it does have that potential for frustration and is I think extended somewhat too long.
The hint system common to all the Breakin’ rooms uses a small tablet by the door; you ask for a hint via a standard walkie-talkie and get a code back, which you type into the tablet to get a suitable hint message. Presumably the surprisingly indirect mechanism is to ensure hint messages are standardised, though it means the operator has the option of talking directly if needed, and perhaps avoids the problems using the walkie-talkies that beginner teams sometimes have. It fits fine into most of their rooms but is incongruous on a pirate ship… though it’s pretty unobtrusive.
My main impression of this room though is that it’s simply a lot of fun. The puzzles are varied and creative, while being very hands-on and physical in a way that made me think of a Crystal Maze room. It’s full of nice touches to add to the atmosphere and humour. Enthusiasts will have little difficulty beating the room but will still have a great time; and it’s an outstandingly good room for beginners, one of my top choices to recommend to a first-time team – an accessible, varied and atmospheric game with much more of a ‘wow’ factor than a room full of padlocks.
The puzzles were nicely varied, very inventive in places, and superbly themed. Almost everything you’d expect from a pirate game based on a movie (that you may or may not have seen) makes an appearance at some point, and the physical game adds a great challenge (especially as it also involves a puzzle to solve as you completed it). There are a couple of searches to do – although I wouldn’t describe it as a search-intensive game.
The game ends with a slightly quirky finale (we thought we’d solved it, we had but needed to re-apply our solution), but it was also atmospheric, told a story, and satisfying when it all came together.
Although Breakin’ talk about
Captain Pugwash The Flying Dutchman as their easiest game, it is fun to play and still a worthy opponent! I don’t think at any point I wasn’t having a good time.