Blackbeard’s Compass – the newest puzzle box from EscapeWelt, inspired by the adventures of the legendary Captain Blackbeard. The Blackbeard’s Compass includes various riddles, each unlocking the next, ultimately leading to a hidden compartment within the box. Don’t miss the exciting escape room experience, lots of fascinating riddles and new unique mechanics – sea knots, a treasure map and even a real compass! Chart your course, set your sails, and embark on a legendary quest!
All images on this page are (c) EscapeWelt
Date Played: 19th November 2023
Time Taken: 45 Minutes
Number of Players: 1
Good things come to those who wait, and EscapeWelt’s newest wooden box experience now live on Kickstarter was well worth the wait. My co-writers Karen and Georgie previously played other games by EscapeWelt, but as for me – I’m pretty new to the whole wooden ‘break into the box’ mechanic, so I was excited to get my hands on this. Unlike your traditional ‘escape game’ where (the clue being in the title) you escape, EscapeWelt boxes are all about breaking into something. In this case, breaking into the mysterious pirate-themed compass case. Start anywhere, play with anything, and see where you get. That’s how I imagine these things go anyway.
With that in mind, I set aside a quiet Sunday afternoon, put a film on in the background (my first Christmas film of the season, though I was tempted by the on-theme Pirates of the Caribbean), and got to work. As a neurodiverse person, I love having something in my hands to play with. I keep a rubix cube on my desk for long meetings- as yet unsolved, but very very well worn. So the idea of a puzzle box really appeals to me. It’s also compact and tactile. The whole thing sits so nicely in my hands with just the right amount of details to entertain the eyes as well as the fingertips.
The Treasure Trove of Tactile Puzzles
My only real problem with this box was… Well… Me. I went through a period in my life where I learned how to pick locks. A period of my life I took way, way too seriously. I mention it because I think my knowledge of how keys and locks actually work counted against me here. As the Christmas film played on in the background, I played around with the box listening for little, subtle wooden clicks that told me I was onto the right direction. There was something extra satisfying about this, and at times I even closed my eyes just to prove to myself I could solve a puzzle just by feeling it.
So… Did I solve the puzzles in the way the game wanted me to? No. But did I solve them all? Yes. In the wrong order? Oh yes. Was it fun? Oh my god yes. The long and the short of it is, this means it’s really hard for me to be objective. Because I loved this, but I didn’t exactly solve it in the right way the creators expected someone to.
In fact, I ‘found’ Blackbeard’s Compass so early and completed my goal so soon that I had to go back and solve the puzzles I’d missed just for that sense of satisfaction afterwards.
I also later found that besides solving the wooden lock portions incorrectly, there was another part of the game which I ‘solved’ by doing the obvious thing and not doing the thing the game wanted me to do. So I think if I had any real criticism of this experience it was just that: The game wasn’t exactly clear on the ‘right’ way to solve it, and I found myself doing all the ‘not right’ ways, but getting the same success state. Some of those ‘not right’ ways were me just being me and wanting to solve it my own way. Other times, there just wasn’t the instruction to do it the other way.
But let’s bring it back to that central point – did I have fun? Oh yes. I’d buy another and do the same in a heartbeat.
The Quality of a Compass
Blackbeard’s Compass scores very highly on my quality scale. Even though one teeny tiny component was broken in my copy of the game. Which, I should add, didn’t affect the gameplay in the slightest and is easily fixable by myself at home with a little glue. The reason I give it such a high mark is twofold:
Firstly, I loved the physicality and feeling of the wood, there’s such an incredibly level of artistry that’s gone into the game and that’s clear. Secondly, the compass itself. Now, I don’t want to give any spoilers – but the game is called Blackbeard’s Compass, and so at some point a compass is involved. It’s a compass so beautiful and delightful the whole experience is worth it in among itself even if you buy it only because you want to own a cool compass.
The real question for me is whether I display it on my puzzle game shelf ‘closed’ or ‘open’ – it looks so cool in both ways, I can’t possibly decide.
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience with Blackbeard’s Compass. Even though I solved it ‘the wrong way’ and went back to figure out the puzzles later, I had a really good time doing so, and would actively look out for more games by EscapeWelt in the future.
At the time of writing, Blackbeard’s Compass is available via Kickstarter. The current pledge for UK backers comes in at £43, not including shipping which is estimated to be around £7. Excluding the fact this might be slightly lower than retail – which is customary with Kickstarter campaigns – it’s a fairly expensive game. For this reason I’ve given it a 3/5 on value, purely based on “how much fun I had” versus “regiftability factor” versus “how much I want to keep it because it looks on my shelf”. Basically, how much lifetime value will I get from this game for £50? It feels expensive, and I only played it for around 45 minutes. I’m not sure it’s worth it based on that metric, BUT it is very cool looking, and could (fairly easily – with the exception of one puzzle) be reset to gift on to someone else, if you wanted to. So do with that information whatever you will.
You can back Blackbeard’s Compass by heading to this link here.
We were sent a free, early access copy of the game by EscapeWelt though this has not affected our review.