Plundered Hearts was the 28th game released by interactive fiction pioneers Infocom. It was the only Infocom game to belong to the "romance" genre; to be written by a woman; and where the protagonist is specified to be female.
Creator Amy Briggs was originally a game tester for Infocom. Encouraged by Steve Meretzky (creator of several Infocom games including Planetfall and A Mind Forever Voyaging), she graduated to game designing and programming (or as Infocom called it, an "implementor", or "imp"). As it would turn out, Briggs would be the last person promoted to "imp" status within Infocom, and Plundered Hearts would be her only published game as an "imp".
(Briggs would go on to edit and re-write other Infocom projects. She was also one of many to attempt lead imp duties on Milliways, the proposed Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy sequel. Ultimately, seeing no more progress on the doomed project than others had, she left the company.)
Plundered Hearts was released simultaneously with Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It.
The user plays as Lady Dimsford, a young, aristocratic woman in the 17th century. She receives a letter from Jean Lafond, the governor of an island in the West Indies, informing her that her father is dying of a tropical disease. Lafond sends a ship to bring her to his island. The ship is then intercepted by notorious pirate Captain Jamison. However, it turns out that Lafond has kidnapped Lady Dimsford's father for his own purposes. The Lady and the pirate work together to defeat him.
The game can be played to completion with four potential endings. However, in only one ending do all of the Lady's loved ones survive. If another ending is arrived at, the user is informed that "There are other, perhaps more satisfying, conclusions."
There was a divide within Infocom regarding whether interactive fiction protagonists should be "audience stand-ins", or whether they should have defined characters. For instance, after negative reaction to the anti-hero protagonist of Infidel, implementor Michael Berlyn concluded that "People really don’t want to know who they are [in a game]." Plundered Hearts falls on the opposite side of the spectrum. Lady Dimsford's capable and spunky personality subverts the game's "damsel in distress" setup.
As had become traditional for Infocom, Plundered Hearts' packaging contained collectibles (or, as they were referred to, "feelies") to help set the mood of the game. Plundered Hearts' feelies came within a velvet pouch. They included Lafond's letter, as well as a "50-guinea banknote" from his island of St. Sinistra.