A slick WarGames-esque game with some cool puzzles, though seasoned players may find it doesn’t quite sate their appetite.
Played 23 June 2020
4-player team: Jamie, Mim, Fran & Chris
Completed in 36 mins
As members of the world alliance, you have been summoned to restore access to the top secret plant-wide defence system known as The Sapphire Network, before the aliens attack. You have 60 minutes to complete your mission. The fate of humanity is in your hands.
Theme / immersion
Think WarGames meets Independence Day and you’ve got the feel of The Sapphire Project. Your team is greeted with a computer terminal interface and you navigate through five stages to stop the alien invasion. The whole look was retro and pretty cool.
While most of the look was on point, some of the graphics used didn’t suit the theme and were quite jarring in what was otherwise presented as a serious game.
There was good use of video and audio throughout – one in particular was a subtle nod to alien invasion movies that I quite appreciated. I just wish I was able to get all the references!
We had to work through a series of gates and firewalls to progress, and new puzzles were unlocked when we’d reached a certain stage. This nicely staged our progress and added to that ‘hacking into the system’ feel.
Puzzles / signposting
There was a decent mix of puzzles, with a combination of alien language deciphering, lateral thinking and memory puzzles.
We finished the game in 35 minuites, so nothing was too difficult – there was enough signposting that you knew how each puzzle worked pretty well.
One puzzle was hidden within the interface itself, which I quite liked – it turned the console itself into a mini-puzzle and gave that searching element you get in physical room.
One part of the game towards the end, while fun, wasn’t a puzzle. It added a bit of excitement but I think it diminished the ‘hacking’ aspect a little.
There’s a good amount of Googling for information in The Sapphire Project. That’s fine in itself, though one puzzles was just a series of questions we had to find the answer to.
We played with friends over WhatsApp, and parts of the answer inputs were blocked off so only one team could input part of the answer This was a cool mechanic, but we shared all other information. This would mean that we’d sometimes finish our puzzle and have to wait for the other team to work theirs out. If we’d had split information, it would have felt more collaborative
Hints / overall experience
We didn’t use any hints, so I can’t comment on how the hint system works.
The interface and connectivity went smoothly. At one point I accidentally closed my browser, but I was quickly able to log back into the same instance of the game I’d originally started. No need to restart, which was good.
We finished with 24 minutes on the clock, and it was half an hour of fun. We were still a little hungry for more puzzle action, though, so I think a few more puzzles would have sated our appetite.
The Sapphire Project is a cool concept with a slick interface and some good puzzles. There are some kinks to work out in the design and one or two puzzles that take away from the immersion, but we still had fun being anti-alien hackers for half an hour.
This game would be suited to families or players with a little less experience, as seasoned escapers may find it doesn’t quite sate their appetite.
The Sapphire Project
Designed by Rob Smith
Cost: £15 (£2.50 of which goes to charity)
Duration: 60 minutes
Requirements: Computer/laptop, access to Internet
Disclosure: We were offered a complimentary game for the purposes of writing a fair and honest review. This has not affected our opinion of the game whatsoever. Check out the disclosure policy for more info.