RATING: 2 Keys RESULT: Win REMAINING: 5:35
If I just walk the plank right now on my own accord, can put this whole pirate adventure behind us, or do I still need to solve the word search first?
Set in the early 1800s, our team has stowed away in hopes of finding the hidden treasure of the dreadful Captain James. Our journey starts in his office. Don’t forget that road of wealth is usually stoned by tears, blood and skulls.
So – um, here’s the thing. That’s not even what happens in the actual game, which was clearly, um, inspired (?) by Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean films, as evidenced by the unlicensed footage included in the preshow video.
From there, we start of blindfolded (something consistent with all three rooms in Miami, making us wonder why PanIQ Room is so obsessed with this tactic that unquestionably adds nothing to any of their experiences) and we find ourselves locked in the brig of the ship. We never actually see this apparent office – though I suppose we should spend more time questioning just how many pirate ships had offices to begin with.
Once we break out, our pirate tale of woe is filled will illogical and sometimes lazy puzzles that leave us ready and willing to walk the plank without prompting.
As we’ve touched on in the past, PanIQ Room as a brand typically shines in the scenic department – and Miami is no exception. And while Pirate’s Den shines here more brightly than the other two, it’s truthfully the only time it shines at all.
In a theme quickly becoming more cliché for the industry, Pirate’s Den delivers the standard ship deck and captains quarters fare decently well. Wooden textures, lots of rope and a handful of nautical flavored props do their best to evoke the spirit of being lost at sea, even from the confines of our very square-shaped rooms.
At the end of the day what matters here is that Pirate’s Den does look fairly good, and on that level will likely impress the casual player in the Miami market.
We’ve made it clear in the past that PanIQ Room as a brand does consistently have a bad habit of puzzles for puzzles sake, rather than incorporating them in any sensible way into the story world. With a few limited exceptions, Pirate’s Den actually tries to buck that trend using puzzles that incorporate oars, treasure maps and even the skulls of a few scurvy lost souls. This was a much appreciated strive towards story that is honestly somewhat foreign to PanIQ Room.
Unfortunately from there, they also had some of their typical PanIQ Room design tropes, as well as one honestly worse than the worst we’ve come to anticipate. Here on this centuries old pirate ship, lost at sea, our only hopes of finding the buried treasure is…… completing a giant word search puzzle mounted to a wall? Because yo ho, a pirate’s life for me? Because escape room? No.
Puzzles should always be fulfilling and engaging, and in a game that struggled to keep us excited, this moment is where it truly lost us once and for all.
Pirate’s Den was the game I looked most forward to playing out of the Miami trio. It seemed like it had the most potential to be something unique from the PanIQ Room brand. I’d like to say it left me wanting more – as negative as that sentiment honestly is – but in truth it left me wanting less. In fact it left me wanting the time to be up so that I could leave.
The fairly decent quality of scenic production grants Pirate’s Den a gold star in the form of one additional key it may not otherwise have had any hope by the grace of Davy Jones to ever receive – but it is something we appreciate and thus, should not go unnoticed. The simple fact, however, is that while we tend to be willing to accept some of PanIQ Room’s short-comings as a brand – the puzzles for puzzles sake and lack of originality in game steps, Miami stands out to us as their worst location, making it difficult to ever recommend others pay them a visit.
Venue: PanIQ Room
Location: Miami, Florida
Number of Games: 3
GAME SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Duration: 60 minutes
Capacity: 6 people
Group Type: Private / You will not be paired with strangers.
Cost: $32 per person weekdays, $36 per person weekends (a minimum of two people are required for booking, prices vary depending on group size.)