Palace Games – The Ruby Palace [Hivemind Review]

The Ruby Palace is a point-and-click adventure game created by Palace Games in San Francisco, CA.

Overhead view of a study with a large bear skin rug.

Format

Style of Play: point-and-click adventure game with elements of a light puzzle hunt

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

Recommended Team Size: 2-3 players, with the ability for a large group to divide into multiple teams and compare scores on a private leaderboard

Play Time: There is a 90-minute game clock.

Price: $20 per player

Booking: After booking, you can play at any time.

You can opt to organize a game for a large group (unlimited in size), divided into smaller teams of 3-4 players each, through the PALACESPHERE Game Administrator Portal (GAP). Here’s how it works.

Description

The Ruby Palace is a point-and-click game that takes players through various rooms in a mansion where they will solve puzzles. Each solved puzzle opens a door that leads to the next room. This culminates in a final puzzle.

Overhead view of an ornate lounge with intriacate woodwork in the floor.

Hivemind Review Scale

REA's hivemind review scale - 3 is recommended anytime, 2 recommended in quarantine, 1 is not recommended.

Read more about our new Hivemind Review format.

Andrew Reynolds’ Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

Perhaps you’ve already played Palace Games’ Palace of Destiny, their free web-based puzzle game. If you’re familiar with Palace of Destiny, then you are also familiar with their new offering, The Ruby Palace. Both games come from a strong point-and-click puzzle game background, if a bit stripped down. You are challenged to navigate a mansion, solving a puzzle in each room to move on to the next room. All puzzles save one were enjoyable and fun to solve; the other relied on a puzzle type that has seen debate over its inclusion in escape rooms. Overall, this group of puzzles shouldn’t prove too difficult for enthusiasts to complete in under the anticipated 90-minute time frame. I recommend bringing in some friends that are new to the community to play with you as a good introduction to puzzles and a fun way to get them hooked.

Matthew Stein’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

The Ruby Palace is explicitly designed for a particular audience: large corporate groups with little to no puzzle experience. The puzzles are well designed distillations of some common puzzle hunt tropes, and much like Puzzled Pint, The Ruby Palace serves as a gentle, accessible introduction to various extraction mechanics and puzzle formats. The game is impressively scalable, fully-automated to accommodate small teams grouped within a larger league, with a leaderboard and a robust admin portal (with technical infrastructure seemingly similar to that of online puzzle hunts like Galactic.)

The game is not, however, designed for more experienced puzzle solvers. Our team blew through the 90-minute game in 37 minutes, making the $20 per person price point quite steep, and many of the puzzles were very easily partial-solvable and lacking intermediate aha moments. We loved one puzzle, a clever twist on charades, but the rest felt quite formulaic. Visually presented as interactive “room” images, though not quite a point-and-click escape room, I also found most puzzles underutilized the virtual “space.” If you’re looking to sample this format, the free Palace of Destiny game, which uses another instance of the same tech, provides a bit more of a challenge and some slightly more involved and creative puzzles in this style.

Crystal F’s Reaction

Rating: 2 out of 3.

The Ruby Palace was similar to other online escape rooms I have played and I think one of the better of this style. Your team is asked to explore a relative’s palace and you encounter clues and puzzles along the way. For the most part I thought the puzzles were interesting and of easy-to-moderate difficulty. Our team encountered one puzzle that was completely novel and a ton of fun to work through. On the other end we encountered a puzzle that was very confusing and not well laid out. Overall I enjoyed this experience. The puzzles were fun and the solves were clear. However, I do feel that overall it lacks a bit of polish, particularly with the graphics.

Fro’s Reaction

Rating: 3 out of 3.

The Ruby Palace was a whimsical journey through Palace Games’ world of colorful spaces. I enjoyed the varied personalities of the individual puzzle rooms yet appreciated the cohesiveness of the overall design. My favorite interaction was a communication puzzle that required us to act as a team in a playful and goofy way. Palace Games heavily markets The Ruby Palace as a team experience, so I would have liked to have seen more puzzles in this collaborative style.

We opted to play The Ruby Palace as part of a multi-team challenge, and I used the PALACESPHERE Game Administrator Portal (GAP) to coordinate logistics for five teams. I found the GAP easy enough to use, but would make several refinements. There are also aspects of the administrative process that require you to use systems outside of the GAP.

A cool feature of the team challenge is the private leaderboard, and fans of friendly competition will likely find this very satisfying (particularly the fast puzzlers out there). Players who decide the administrative coordination using the GAP isn’t for them can simply play as a single team. Offering both options broadens Palace Games’ appeal to a wider number and variety of players.

Ultimately, the timed play and competitive aspect was something I could take or leave. The Ruby Palace wasn’t an experience I found myself wanting to rush out of.

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