This was pretty fun. It’s a tropey pirate game, doesn’t really do anything new with the material, but it doesn’t pretend to be anything else, and I thought the puzzle progression in the middle was solid and enjoyable. Actually, that’s a lie about not doing anything new: the bit with the mermaid’s sister, who is a fish hanging on the wall, was interesting. It was also one of the best puzzle sequences for me, since it had a little more depth of character, and felt like a minor espionage/prison-break quest.
The beginning and end were the weak points for me. I felt unmotivated at the start, but once the puzzles kicked in, I became more invested. The end was anticlimactic, however. Just a few sentences. It could’ve had more punch.
I had to use the walkthrough twice: to dip the map in the tea, and to figure out that I could dive in the swamp. The descriptions are very sparse, and when I read that the swamp was a “wide dirty pool,” I didn’t imagine it had much depth. I was thinking more like a big mud puddle. Not something you could enter with a diving suit.
I also struggled a lot with the map. I’m awful with compass directions. I always get turned around. So many of the rooms here are basically just a list of compass directions, so I couldn’t visualize the island in my head or picture where I was oriented. I just bumped around. But this happens to me in tons of parser games, so I’m not really faulting this particular game for my own problem. Since it’s a pirate game, though, it would’ve been cool to have the map visually presented in the background or in a sidebar or something.
As for the ending: the second one was neat. Definitely the secret ending! Even though I ate the mushrooms and anticipated a psychedelic puzzle, I would’ve never thought to use the eye patch like that. But I’m glad I saw it when I went to the walkthrough. I almost wish this were the main ending!