In May 2021, the winner of a small competition for self-created text adventures was voted. The PunyJam participants had the task of starting the game in a room called Broom Closet. The description of the room was also precisely specified. The rest of the game was left to the imagination and creativity of the author. This resulted in 8 different text adventures which were evaluated by a jury. The decision was very close. The difference between first place and second place was only a tenth of a point.
The question of why one is in a broom closet and what is written on the note on the wall throws the player abruptly into the action. He learns that a bunch of pirates have broken into the town's harbour pub in order to get a treasure back. The treasure has been hidden from them by the pub owner Harold. Since he did not reveal the hiding place, the pirates have taken his pretty daughter hostage on their ship, which is moored in the harbour.
As a good employee and friend of Harold, the task is clear: Brenda must be rescued from their clutches again. So I accepted the challenge and set about entering every room in typical adventure fashion, looking around carefully and collecting everything that could be obtained. The command “TAKE ALL” made the task easier. It was a bit more difficult for me to connect the collected objects with meaningful English verbs, because I couldn't use the general verb “USE” even once in the whole game. For example, to move the rowing boat, “USE BOAT” is apparently too general. Only with “ROW BOAT” was I successful. Here, in contrast to the usual graphic adventures, I had to try a little more often to achieve something that was actually obvious. However, this is not a point of criticism, but simply due to the genre.
Since the game does not have any graphics, the player has to take the clues from the text. In this aspect, I was treated fairly well. The props mentioned in the text are described in an informative way when asked and are full of valuable clues. This also makes playing through the game pleasantly entertaining. The puzzles deserve to be called puzzles, since they are not obvious but can be solved with logical deduction. One of the more challenging puzzles is to exchange the real key to the treasure chest for another one. You get the hint directly from Brenda when you ask her for it. But already on her first appearance she says, that she has an idea. Even failed attempts are helpfully commented on, so that the solution you are looking for can also be found through stubborn trial and error. For example, when attempting confusion on the pirate ship by lighting a straw ball in the wrong places, the comment is given that the smoke does not clear well in that spot. Only at the correct place can the straw be lit.
Overall, the game is not very extensive and is more like a short excursion than a full-blown adventure trip. Those who have played ZORK I know the house where you return your trophies after completing the quests and know that this is only the starting point into the vast realms. In Captain Cutter's Treasure, the entire sum of locations is only about as big as this house alone. The characters are stereotypical: evil pirates, a beautiful bride, drunken dockworkers. The setting is also very clichéd: pirate ship, harbour pub, lighthouse. But it is these inhabitants, immediately present in the imagination, that make the setting feel alive and interesting. The player is offered the freedom to interactively enter a fairy tale from his childhood.
In general, the player cannot get lost in an unwinnable dead end. However, if the player is too careless, the brutal pirates will forcefully end the game prematurely and a reload is necessary. This is the case, for example, if you try to cheat the pirates in the acquisition of the treasure. Similar to older Sierra games, this mortality makes the hero a bit more realistic. After playing through the game, I received a hint about not found “Easter Eggs”. Honestly, this did not motivate me enough to re-examine the game.
All in all, I spent an enjoyable 2 hours with Captain Cutter's Treasure. The plot was exciting and motivating. A pirate story in the light version without any epic or even literary claim. Besides the Z-file, an 8-bit version is also announced on the website.
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