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.
The Ruby Palace is a point-and-click adventure game created by Palace Games in San Francisco, CA.
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.
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.
Palace of Destiny was a solid at-home game littered with pop culture references. Google-fu comes in handy, as most of the game requires outside knowledge. The puzzles were clever and unique, yet relied a bit on pop culture that would be hard to solve without prior knowledge. Once you knew where to start, the puzzles were fun and engaging. The end of the game wasn’t clear (they will be adding more puzzles), which was confusing. I would recommend this as a fun game to fill the time for both solo puzzlers and small groups.
I loved the idea of the Palace of Destiny — who doesn’t want to explore a Palace for adventure and mystery? Here, you enter a room, explore, solve, and move on to the next room. The hint system is thematically consistent and works well.
This adventure is very puzzle-centric. Most puzzles need significant outside knowledge to solve. Some of that was tediously obscure, but nothing that some Google sleuthing wouldn’t overcome. This experience lacked a cohesive story, so enthusiasts who love puzzle-focused challenges will like this far more than those who prefer on-theme puzzles interwoven with a compelling narrative.
The Lone Puzzler’s Reaction
Rating: 2 out of 3.
Series of linear puzzles that were pretty fun to play but that relied a bit too much on outside resources (Google) – expected more of a self-contained escape room-like feel to the game. Game play was good – puzzles were moderate difficulty – probably better for casual players than enthusiasts.
Peih Gee Law’s Reaction
Rating: 3 out of 3.
This was a fun little puzzle hunt. It took a while to get used to the rhythm of puzzles and having to Google many things. The format was a little unwieldy at times; a few really required either pop culture knowledge or a ton of googling. Some puzzles were a bit tedious, requiring you to refer back and forth. Overall, though, the puzzles were very satisfying, especially if you have a lot of time on your hands like we all do currently in quarantine.
Theresa Piazza’s Reaction
Rating: 2 out of 3.
If online point-and-click escape room games and Puzzled Pint had a baby, it might be this game. The free beta of Palace of Destiny has about an hour’s worth of puzzling to offer either a team or lone puzzler. Each room and puzzle offered a distinct challenge, which we enjoyed solving with the help of a collaborative Google doc full of screenshots. One puzzle required outside knowledge that we didn’t immediately recognize, causing our team to stall for quite a while as we threw all ideas out there, just to see what would stick. Palace Games has teased that Palace of Destiny will be expanded, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they add next!
You navigate to a URL, and after signing up for an account, you are met with a series of rooms inside a browser window, each gated by a puzzle to solve before you can progress to the next room. The door is barred by a passcode that is revealed after solving the puzzle. 9 rooms later, you reach the (temporary) end of the series!
This is a classic-style point-and-click overhead two-dimensional game. If you’re playing with friends in other locations, you can either screen share your experience, or each create your own login and play along. Each login is completely siloed and not connected to a team.
Team size: groups of 30 to 125 players with 4-7 players per group; we recommend 4-5 per group
Duration: up to 2 hours
Price: contact Palace Games for pricing
Emergency Exit Rating: [A+] No Lock Exit
Physical Restraints: [A+] No Physical Restraints
We’d really wanted to play Escape The Palace, Palace Games’ large format escape room/ puzzle hunt hybrid, for some time. Since they don’t typically open tickets to small groups, we assembled a large group by bringing our escape room tour to Palace Games.
Not only did Escape The Palace live up to the hype; as a puzzler, it exceeded it in quite a few ways.
Palace Games struck a balance between challenge and fair that we rarely encounter. While Escape The Palace was noticeably more difficult than most escape rooms, it never strayed deep into frustration territory. Some of that was the high quality gamemastering, but most of it was the satisfying way in which the puzzles came together. The puzzle play also felt heavily escape room-inspired, which we enjoyed.
It wasn’t perfect. It fell short of conveying narrative (although the main character was utterly delightful), and the imposing Palace of Fine Arts building didn’t feel that essential to the game.
If you’re looking for a large-group intellectual challenge in San Francisco, this is a fantastic option. This made the very short list of games designed for corporate groups that are legitimately fun in their own right, and not simply “good enough for mandatory fun.”
Who is this for?
Players with at least some experience
Challenging but fair puzzles
Hybrid of puzzle-hunt and tangible inputs
We were assisting a renowned professor with scientific research in the Palace of Fine Arts when the Professor left, locking us in. We needed to solve our way through his experiments to escape the palace.
Escape the Palace took place in the Palace of Fine Arts from the 1915 World’s Fair. It was a large open space with tables in the middle.
The puzzles were spread out around the room, at tables and on the walls, and in an adjacent room with some nifty props. There were multiple identical stations containing each puzzle so different groups could solve simultaneously.
Palace Games’ Escape the Palace was an escape room-style puzzle hunt for groups of 30 to 125 players.
Playing in teams of 4-7 people, groups moved together from station to station, solving the puzzles and collecting answers that resolved to a final metapuzzle.
Escape the Palace had a high level of difficulty relative to escape rooms, but was easier than a typical puzzle hunt.
Core gameplay revolved around observing, making connections, puzzling, and moving about the large gamespace.
➕ Escape the Palace kept a large number of people engaged throughout the game. There was plenty to solve and the puzzles required teamwork, always engaging multiple players at once. There was room to move between the puzzle stations as a group.
➕ The puzzles varied a lot. We relied on different types of thinking to solve different puzzles. What one person struggled with clicked for someone else.
➕ The puzzles solved cleanly… straight through to the metapuzzle. Palace Games gave us enough to chew on, but nothing took too long to work through. Escape the Palace was challenging, but fair. It rewarded us with satisfying solves.
➕ While many of the puzzles were paper-based, Palace Games included more active solves using tangible inputs and a bit of tech. In this way they blended escape room gameplay with a puzzle-hunt framework. We enjoyed interacting with these props as a group, inputting information to solve puzzles.
➖ The space felt underutilized. Although it was neat to be in the Palace of Fine Arts, it felt like these puzzles could have been placed anywhere.
➖ The story and puzzles didn’t feel connected to Palace Games or The Palace of Fine Arts beyond the science-y theming.
➕ The staff for Escape the Palace were phenomenal. They were engaging characters. They floated around providing hints, as needed. This hint system worked well and kept teams from falling too far behind the others.
Tips For Visiting
Parking: There is parking at Palace Games.
Food: There are lots of good options on Chestnut Street.
Book your hour with Palace Games’ Escape the Palace, and tell them that the Room Escape Artist sent you.
Palace Games succeeded in blurring the lines between real life and video game.
The Edison Escape Room was a brilliant display of technology in escape room design. The detailed set was phenomenal. The gameplay ranged from well-executed standard puzzles to wholly unorthodox challenges in the physical environment, all of which leaned into teamwork. Palace Games stitched these elements together with technology that brightened each element individually and energized the interconnected experience. The Edison Escape Room was as impressive as it was fun.
This escape room was a commitment. At 100 minutes there might have even have been too many challenges. A few too many of these felt like the final puzzle leading to an unnecessary anticlimax. Palace Games packed a lot of different twists into The Edison Room.
Palace Games’ latest creation is a wonder of the escape room world.
It is worth traveling a distance to visit The Edison Escape Room.
Who is this for?
Players with at least some experience
Radiant set design
Unusual teamwork mechanics
The room reacts to the players
Incredible feat of technology in escape room design
Thomas Edison had maintained a secret study in the Palace of Fine Arts during the Panama–Pacific International Exposition, the World’s Fair held in San Francisco, California, in 1915. When the Palace Games team unearthed a telegram confirming the existence of this study, they did indeed uncover the space.
This study hid a secret: Since Edison had deemed his children unsuitable heirs to his businesses, he had crafted a series of challenges into his study in an attempt to find an acceptable heir. If we could solve all his challenges, we could earn the right to lead Edison’s businesses.
Edison maintained a small wallpapered study with a wooden desk, phonograph, and some wall hangings. A display of lightbulbs featured prominently on one wall. It was cozy and welcoming.
This classic study was a facade. The more exciting and dramatic elements of his challenges were yet to come, if we were bright enough to enter his lab.
Palace Games’ The Edison Escape Room began as a standard escape room and evolved to deliver highly interactive atypical sequences.
The Edison Escape Room offered a high level of difficulty. This difficultly, however, was adaptive. If a team wasn’t up to the level of challenge, the room would adjust to the give the players a better experience.
Core gameplay revolved around searching, observing, making connections, puzzling, and working together.
+ The Edison Escape Room delivered phenomenal reveals. It was exciting, dramatic, and invigorating.
+ The set was delightful. There was always more to take in. A close look illuminated disguised jokes and puns. I spent a few minutes puzzling through these humorous tidbits that were entirely irrelevant to the larger puzzle game. I enjoyed every second of this time.
+ The puzzle design encouraged both parallel puzzling and group solves. The branching came back together repeatedly in interactive and entertaining group challenges.
+ We enjoyed so many of the puzzles in The Edison Escape Room. These included typical escape room-style puzzles as well as atypical, interactive group maneuvering.
– One of the late-game puzzles felt underclued. Witnessing it play out, we liked the concept, but it seemed as if the game was dragging us through it rather lighting a path of clues that we could follow.
+/- The Edison Escape Room provided audible feedback to confirm that we’d correctly solved a puzzle. Some of the choices of confirmation tone seemed oddly out of place and immersion-breaking in an experienced grounded in 1915… even when they were amusing.
+ Palace Games intertwined gamespace and puzzle seamlessly; for much of the escape room these were interconnected on a level far beyond what we’ve come to expect from escape room design.
+ The gamespace responded to our actions. Furthermore, it adapted to the team’s ability. It was impressive.
+ The Edison Escape Room encouraged us to build mastery of the gamespace and the props within. We welcomed Palace Games’ unambiguous approach to prop reuse. It furthered our engagement with the gamespace. The props were enticing and we were eager to see them recalled and reimagined as the game progressed.
-The Edison Escape Room didn’t need to be 100 minutes long. Some of the late-game content became overly repetitive. On multiple occasions we thought we’d solved the final puzzle… and then Edison tossed us another challenge. Considering how much time we spend in escape rooms, it’s strange to say that this was too much escape room, but by the end, that’s how we felt. The energy of the space dimmed.
– The final puzzle – the actual final puzzle – wasn’t as climactic as some of the culminating puzzles that came before it. This contributed to the petering out.
+ The technology driving The Edison Escape Room was impressive. We were in awe that it worked. While we don’t believe escape rooms need technology to be great, Palace Games incorporated this technology brilliantly to bring the elements of escape room design together.
+ The Edison Escape Room provided a continual sense of new discovery. In a gamespace as elaborate and interesting as this, discovery was invigorating. This was a ton of fun. I still can’t believe that this thing exists.
Tips for Visiting
Drive to the back of The Palace of Fine Arts. There is parking.