Blackbeard’s Quest – Breakout Rooms – Watford

Present, in February 2020, were: Aunty Ant, Lioness, Amazing J

How much guidance are you looking for in a room? I don’t mean clues from the GM, I just mean structure and pointers within the game, to get the ball rolling with what you need to do next, or give some parameters about what you are trying to achieve, even if you’ve got puzzles to solve to get there. No-one wants to be spoon-fed their way around (well, we don’t, anyway) but there is a balance to be struck that some rooms nail, and others just don’t. Blackbeard’s Quest falls firmly in the latter category.

On the face of it, it was actually a good room – the theming is excellent, all the puzzles tie in nicely and there is some great infrastructure within the space which leads to clever game play and some really neat challenges. It is the best room I’ve played in Breakout, with Spy Games and The Exorcist both having some reasonable negatives about them. I definitely had a good ‘post-escape glow’ when we completed it.

On reflection though, my little glowy haze was definitely due to the end of the room being much better than the start. The finale is good, with some fun things to do. Maybe I was just a bit more in tune with the rhythm of the room by then, or maybe the structure was clearer. Because looking back at the rest, we literally just winged it.

In any room there is always a certain amount of working out what to do with the things you find – tying in objects or colours or symbols with other things in the room or how you can then use them to solve the next piece of a puzzle etc. In Blackbeard’s Quest – particularly the first section – they give you very little to go on. It’s  big space with sparse furniture, although very well themed, which just added to the feeling of vacuum. Without giving too much away, we solved one puzzle by literally guessing an order to see if it worked and another puzzle we solved just by fiddling with it. Another completed challenge resulted in opening an electronic lock that was so subtle we had to ask the GM what had happened. I guess we did it, so it wasn’t impossible …… but nor was it very satisfying! It was almost as if the game designers thought that instead of giving us clever or subtle clues, it would be a ‘better’ challenge with no clues at all. Hhhhmmmmm.

Having said that, I go back to my second par – some of the actual puzzles are great, it’s a clever set build with bespoke built structures and some really nice moments in amongst the frustration. The theme and set follows the whole way through, aside from the walkie-talkie contact with the GM (I know its a standard but some how rooms that manage to incorporate the communication method within the theming are a little more pleasing). While the puzzles themselves aren’t that complex (one aside) – the lack of in-play direction may mean more novice escapers would struggle without plenty of nudges from the GM. I did enjoy it, but the overall flow of the game just didn’t float my boat.

  • Storyline: I actually can’t remember the story we were given (memorable, then!) but ultimately pirate ship = find treasure, job done. 
  • Theming and Set: Strong theming and excellent set, all the way through.
  • Searching:  You could search for clues, may be you’ll find more than we did! Not search heavy for objects although observation required throughout.
  • Puzzles: Not too challenging but a really good mix and some lovely set pieces to work with.
  • Physicality: Minimal exertion required, but a few puzzles require activity and certain amount of skill. 
  • Scare factor: Mild.
  • Company Age Guidance: “Any children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult”
  • Age suitability: Possibly not enough direction to keep a younger group focused but a few tasks younger minds and hands would like with adult guidance. Amazing J nailed a couple of the puzzles on her own.

Breakout Rooms website

Oh yes, nearly forgot.

Why did the pirate walk the plank?

Because he didn’t have a dog.