The Sapphire Palace is a point-and-click adventure game created by Palace Games in San Francisco, CA.
Style of Play: point-and-click adventure
Required Equipment: computer with internet connection, pen and paper also recommended
Recommended Team Size: 4
Play Time: 90-120 minutes (but our group solved a bit more quickly)
Price: $20 per player
Booking: purchase and play at your leisure
You log into a web environment where you navigate through a series of collaborative puzzles. Each teammate typically works on one part of a collaborative solve. A little circle always shows you what the other players are currently looking at.
If you’re in different households, you should connect with your teammates through Zoom, Discord, or another video conferencing platform. If you’re in the same household, each player will need their own computer.
Hivemind Review Scale
The Lone Puzzler’s Reaction
The Sapphire Palace was a very unique game. It was a digital puzzle game that really required 4 players to maximize the concept. Unlike many digital puzzle escape rooms where some players can get lost while other players do puzzles, this one required each player to participate in a series of collaborative puzzles. It was by far the most collaborative online game that I have played, requiring ongoing contributions to puzzle solutions from all players – and group discovery of solutions to the puzzles was very entertaining. The puzzles were challenging and interesting throughout and covered a range of skills. It is hard to compare this to other digital escape rooms because of these qualities, but if you have a group that wants to really play together, see all the puzzles together and all solve together, this is a great option. It is also a game that earns its price at definitely more than an hour of puzzling and likely two hours for many groups.
Kate Wastl’s Reaction
The Sapphire Palace by Palace Games was an absolutely delightful self-driven experience that guides you and (optimally) 3 of your friends through a series of clever puzzles during your escape. Although the game states a minimum of 2 people, and can accommodate 3-5, it seems as though this experience is really designed and optimized for 4 people. Larger groups can run multiple instances of the game, comparing results on a private leaderboard. The Sapphire Palace does really well at exposing players to a wide variety of puzzling opportunities, at least one of which is only possible in the virtual space and really takes advantage of this format. I’d definitely recommend this to both enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike.
Joel Smileypeacefun Reaction
In this highly communicative game, I felt like a plumber doing a lot of pipework to get this p(a)lace back on track.
At its best, the saying that communication is key has never been more true. Without proper conversations between players, you won’t get far. The difficulty of this game was nicely challenging, but never frustrating. At any point, you can pause the game to take a short break.
At its worst, all the puzzles felt like extremely long process puzzles. Once we’d figured out what to do (which is the fun part of solving a puzzle), it took us often a very long time to actually do all the steps. There wasn’t really a storyline or an apparent theme, per se.
We had some fun talking our way through this game. This is one of those experiences where you don’t want to have too many or not enough players. 4 people is definitely the sweet spot here.
Cara Mandel’s Reaction
The Sapphire Palace was an enjoyable mix of point-and-click game and team-building activity. I wouldn’t classify this strongly as an escape room per se but it did involve solving a linear sequence of puzzles in order to “escape” from a virtual setting. There were a few sequences that bordered on tedious, but largely I found the other mechanics to be enjoyable. I wouldn’t recommend this for a group of fewer than 4 people, though it would technically be possible to play. There were multiple moments of communication that required people to be at different locations and communicating information back and forth. This would be a great game to play with friends or family in different locations and would make for a fun small-team communication-strengthening exercise.
Disclosure: Palace Games provided the Hivemind reviewers with a complimentary play.