My first thoughts about Ryan Veeder's game of nautical plunder are here. There I wrote that
I doubt that anyone has the patience to actually sit down with all the information and work out the optimal solution. There is a puzzle here, but Veeder doesn't do a good job of giving us the motivation to solve it.But, well, wouldn't you know it? I sat down, collected all the information, and worked out the optimal solution. It takes some time to get a handle on the exact operation of the game rules, and you also need to spend some effort on getting all the necessary information. (On which turn exactly does the hand mirror disappear beneath the waves? Do you need to look in the box before you can take the lump from it?) But once you have all the information, you've got an enjoyable challenge, and getting to the weird victory message is a nice reward.
Then I found out that I hadn't found the optimal solution. At all.
Now, if that had been because of my own stupidity in solving the optimisation puzzle, I wouldn't mind this in the least. If I fail a fair challenge, I'm the one to blame.
But that is not what happened. What happened is that the game turns out to be full of little adventure-type puzzles, where you need to take non-obvious actions to reveal new plunder. You need to shoot the cabinet to reveal some of the most valuable items; you need to read the book to reveal a bracelet; you need to pull the dagger and undo and pull again until it suddenly gives way. And only once you have solved all those adventure-type puzzles can you start solving the optimisation puzzle.
Or, rather, can you start solving the real optimisation puzzle, rather than a fake one created by your own lack of knowledge. But you can never know that you've arrived at the real puzzle. And so you can never know that you have found the solution.
This makes Captain Verdeterre's Plunder an exceedingly problematic game. The second part of the game is the optimisation puzzle, and this where it becomes an interesting challenge. But that optimisation puzzle cannot be reached; or rather, you can never know that you have reached it. This means that the game asks you to solve a complicated puzzle while refusing to tell you the rules. That is not fun. And it is certainly not what I hope for from a puzzle game. It is essential that a puzzle is clear about its rules and clear about when you have solved it; and Captain Verdeterre's Plunder fails at both.