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Review: Pirates Of The Golden Skull

RATING: 4 Keys          RESULT: Loss          REMAINING: 0:00

Arrr Mateys! Powerful treasure awaits ye who can solve Calabaza’s riddles… are ye scoundrels up to the task?


Avast, ye Mateys! You and your crew of scallywags tried to steal the treasure of the infamous pirate captain, David S. Calabaza and have been thrown into the hold of his ship, The Plunder, as a result. Now you must free yourselves from the hold, pilfer the hidden treasure, and escape The Plunder before Captain Calabaza finds out and has you thrown overboard into the briny deep. Be quick, he will return in 60 minutes, and you could end up in Davy Jones’ Locker!

Nobody likes taking a long walk off a short plank, but that’s exactly what we face if we can’t locate Captain Calabaza’s treasure. Ye see, Matey, rumor has it that included in his riches is the powerful Golden Skull.

He who possesses the Golden Skull controls the ship and the fate of all on board. If only we can break free from the brig, decipher some pirate trickery, and get our hooks on that skull, it will be Calabaza who’s taking a long walk into the sea!


The Plunder is no rinky-dink boat. This is a sea worthy ship, and one worthy of seeing!

The first glimpse of Calabaza’s vessel that our group of thieving lads (and one brave lass) saw was that of the brig. Built to hold any criminals and would be treasure stealers securely until the Captain himself can deal with them properly, the prison cells – yes, plural – are seemingly impenetrable.

The impressive scenic continues throughout The Plunder, as we break free from captivity and scour the other areas on board. Built of sturdy wood beams and filled floor-to-ceiling with crates of valuable goods, the entire space evokes the sense of being in the underbelly of Captain Calabaza’s prized ship.

Solve It Sherlock has added plenty of small touches to the environment that help make it quite immersive. Theatrical lighting and sound effects couple with the scenic to complete the pirate ship aesthetic perfectly.


Pirates Of The Golden Skull is filled with puzzles that belong perfectly within the storyworld that Solve It Sherlock set out to create.

A clever and fun split start requires teams of Golden Skull seekers to communicate effectively. We quickly learned that observation of our surroundings would be crucial in escaping our fate of a plank walk.

Once we made our way into the main area of The Plunder, the game blended scavenging, decoding, and puzzle solving to build a well rounded experience. Several items that were found early on did not come into play until much later, making cataloging inventory a useful tactic.

One aspect of Pirates Of The Golden Skull that we really enjoyed was the full use of the space throughout the entire game. Unlike many escape games, aboard The Plunder you are never truly finished with any one area. We found ourselves constantly traversing the ship, retracing our steps to reference information scattered in various locations.

The single minor issue we had with regards to puzzles came in the form of visible tech that didn’t fit within the world of a pirate ship. There is plenty of well hidden technology and surprises throughout the game that works perfectly in the storyworld, but one puzzle incorporates lighted buttons that just looked out of place. Adapting this one small issue to better mesh with the old pirate ship scenic would help to keep Pirates Of The Golden Skull fully on theme.

There is a math problem that needs to be solved. Those comfortable with multiplying can easily do it mentally, but players are allowed to use their phone calculator as a crutch.


The first thing to note is that this game was not designed in house. Solve It Sherlock lets enthusiasts know on their website that “although not identical, a very similar version of this game can be found at another escape room in NJ. Please check before booking that you have not played this game elsewhere.” We love this integrity and openness from Solve It Sherlock!

That being said, the owners here have gone beyond just purchasing a game design and plopping it in an office space. Extra touches to the scenic and immersiveness go a long way in elevating Pirates Of The Golden Skull.

A perfect mix of puzzle types and difficulty levels make this a great game for any group. There are enough tasks laid out in a not-so-linear fashion to keep large teams of pirates occupied and engaged. The game is also very manageable for smaller teams who are up for a challenge. Our team of three was frantically working on the final puzzle as the last seconds ticked off the clock.

Solve it Sherlock impressed us with their attention to detail and genuine interest in creating a fantastic escape game experience. They have some exciting plans for the future and we can’t wait to see how it all pans out!

Venue Details

Venue: Solve It Sherlock

Location: Neptune, NJ

Number of Games: 3


Duration: 60 minutes

Capacity: 8 people

Group Type: Public / You may be paired with strangers. (added fee for private bookings)

Cost: $29 per person, $39 per person for private bookings

EAR Disclaimer

We thank Solve It Sherlock for inviting us to play this game. Although complimentary admission was generously provided, that in no way impacts the opinion included within this review.

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