Puzzled Frog Interactive: Captain Nemo’s Treasure

By | December 28, 2022

Online, Sep 2021

Rated 3.5 out of 5
Toby says:

With physical escape rooms open once more, there’s only a trickle of new play from home games appearing – but Puzzled Frog are bucking the trend, with their first game being designed for remote avatar play. Note that it’s also unusual in using a public booking system, which will be good if you wants to find people to play with but less good if you want a game exclusive to your group.
In this game you’re guiding your avatar (plus cameraman) in the submerged wreck of the Terra Marique, a submarine owned by the legendary Captain Nemo which may contain his treasures. What we didn’t realise until the game finished was that this is a non-linear, variable score game. There’s one specific object that’s the main target, plus a number of secondary targets, and teams are not expected to gather everything.
Realistically, any serious explorer about to enter a ruined submarine would gather in advance as much information about the venture as they could – and players are in fact supplied with a data dump in the form of a very well-produced PDF, giving information about the submersible and clues that are useful during the game. Our avatar would also take photos of items of interest, meaning we’d get a link to view the image. These and the PDF effectively functioned as the game’s inventory system, less technically sophisticated than some but also more realistic. The downside was that juggling images and multiple PDF pages became a bit of a distraction from the main Zoom window.
The underwater scene is built beautifully, and also benefited from sound effects that added extra atmosphere without getting in the way. They also seemed to have taken advantage of the avatar-first design to include a couple of small things that might not have been possible for physical play. And while my initial impression was that it was going to be frustratingly low-lit, in fact there’s an unusual system to the lighting that worked well once we figured out what was going on.
Between the beautifully built atmospheric set, the use of a separate cameraman, and the HUD style customisation of the Zoom window, Nemo felt like it has the potential to be quite a stand-out game. I played it very early on, and that may be why it felt like the many excellent elements didn’t quite come together for me as much as they should. One reason for that may have been that we didn’t understand the variable score design of the game, which meant the ending felt a bit anticlimactic and abrupt. That’s the kind of thing that could be easily improved with practice and fine-tuning, though; and once it settles in a little more this should be a great addition to the list of avatar games still available to play. 3.5 / 5

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