It seems like people are doing a lot of the same things these days, as we all remain “apart but together.”
You hear of a lot of people getting active outside, others who are baking, and some binge-watching Netflix. It can be hard to learn this new balance that comes with quarantine life, especially if you have young children who you’re supposed to be home-schooling or educating.
Sometimes, at the end of the day, you might just want to unwind with a glass of tea or wine and do a puzzle with a friend.
But what if you can’t?
Puzzles aren’t exactly considered essential items -- meaning you shouldn’t run to the nearest store and buy one. And what if you live alone? What if you just don’t own a puzzle?
Virtual puzzles to the rescue.
We tried four, so we’ll share some thoughts below.
What we can tell you: When you go to the site, you can either scroll down to join a puzzle in progress, or sign in to select a new puzzle. Once you’re in, you can invite your friends.
There’s information along the top of each puzzle shown on the homepage, telling you the difficulty level of what you’re about to select, how many people are participating -- sometimes only 10 are allowed, other times up to 100 people can play -- and how many pieces are involved.
Once you’ve picked a puzzle, you can zoom, turn up your sound, change your background and chat with the other participants. You’re scored automatically along the way. The site looks pretty easy to use and standard.
What we can tell you: It’s a pretty similar setup to what we saw over at JigawPuzzles: First, you must decide if you’d rather join an active game or start a new one.
We might prefer this setup and general look already, as the site is a little more intuitive and fun to navigate. Plus, the puzzles are really visually appealing.
Back to the site: When you’re deciding which puzzle to select, you’ll learn a lot of that same information as the first website provided -- the game progress (for example, 32% complete), the number of pieces and players. Also, it looks like the puzzle is shown in black and white, as in, the sections that aren’t complete, while the colored chunks mean that part’s done. Easy peasy!
What we can tell you: Full disclosure -- trying to set up a puzzle was an option, but this writer got a little lost trying to figure out how to make it all work.
But! We’re going to leave this one on our list, mostly because we were impressed by all the options.
Not only can you do puzzles, but the site offers chess, checkers, Connect Four, backgammon and dice poker. You select what you want to play, adjust your settings and preferences as needed, and the website will give you a pop-up with all the links and social media information you need to invite your friends. Great choices!
What we can tell you: We’ll let ePuzzle’s homepage break it down -- “In the basic version of our jigsaw puzzles, the players compete with one another, trying to compose the jigsaw puzzles as precisely and fast as it is possible. Multiplayer jigsaw puzzles offer an additional possibility of cooperation during the game.”
Some extra elements here: Kind of cool!
We’ll admit, this felt daunting at first. Who wants to fill out a puzzle quickly? Shouldn’t it be relaxing?
We gave it a shot anyway. If you elect to join a game in progress, you’ll enter your name, country and then “play.” These fill up fast! It took us a few tries to get in. Once you have access, the screen will load and you’ll see pieces moving around quickly. It’ll take you a few minutes to figure out what to do, but we think we got the hang of it after a few minutes. The site tracks your move count and your accuracy. We didn’t stay until the thing was complete, but might consider it another time.
The verdict: Our recommendation? Ravensburger’s Puzzle World. But everyone’s built differently, so why not give one or all of these sites a shot? We love the idea behind these.
Sure, virtual puzzles might not be as satisfying as the IRL-kind, but in times like this, we have to make do!