There are a lot of escape rooms available in Philadelphia, and Philadelphia Room Escape is one of the many locations offering interesting puzzle rooms to solve in Center City. With so much competition in the area, is the Caribbean Pirate Ship at Philadelphia Room Escape worth your time and money?
Before we get to the room itself, one thing that really makes this place stand out is that it allows private bookings with smaller groups. Many of the other rooms in the area require you to play with random people if you don't have a group of 10+, or force you to book all slots to get a private experience.
This was a big deal for us, as it's difficult to write a review of an escape room when there's a large group of people you've never met before. Sometimes, puzzles will be solved by someone and you don't even see the solution to know whether the puzzle is actually good or not.
Caribbean Pirate Ship has some inventive and imaginative puzzles when taken on their own. Solving some of them feels rather satisfying, and one puzzle even managed to stump our group of crafty escape room veterans. Thankfully, "the ghost" is happy to offer hints if you need them.
The core conceit of the room is both good and bad: basically, you're trying to find certain items that you place into a drawer. If you find and place the right item, the item gets swapped with the next piece of the puzzle and the drawer opens back up for you to retrieve and keep playing.
This makes for some pretty fun interactions with parts of the room. Anything sitting there could be handed to "the ghost" at some point, which is interesting and different from most rooms.
The main issue I have with the Caribbean Pirate Ship escape room is the presentation. There's not a lot of wow-factor when you first walk into the room, and that feeling continues as you make your way through the room's many puzzles.
Additionally, the room feels a little haphazard in that it doesn't really flow from puzzle to puzzle. You end up with a bunch of different clues unsolved at the same time, and this makes it a bit confusing to figure out what you're supposed to be working on.
There was one puzzle in particular that we just stumbled upon by dumb luck. We had to move a piece of furniture to find a sheet of paper with instructions, but there was nothing organic that led us to move and find it. We just happened to drop something behind it, and when we went to retrieve it, we found the important clue.
The aforementioned conceit of using the drawer to interact with the puzzles is cool, but it also poses some problems.
Because you're handing items over to the game master and then they're either giving them back if you're wrong or giving you the next step if you're right, you can brute force quite a few puzzles, which feels very unsatisfying.
We tried to resist the temptation to just keep giving "the ghost" items, but on one puzzle we did resort to process of elimination since only five potential objects could solve that particular puzzle.
All in all, the Caribbean Pirate Ship just doesn't feel as well-put-together as we were hoping for. From the way the puzzles are designed to the actual look and feel of the room, the negatives outweigh the positives on this one.
However, even a mediocre escape room like this can still be fun if you're with a good group of friends. And the fact that this particular place allows you to come with smaller groups makes it worth checking out. After all, there were a few puzzles that were satisfying, and we still had a decent enough time.
You can book the Caribbean Pirate Ship at Philadelphia Room Escape's website. It's around $27/person, which is on par for the area. Check out these nifty tips to help you get through your first escape room.