Puzzles games are one of the very few gaming genres that can be most popular in one platform and least popular in others at the same time. It’s a known fact that puzzle games are generally well received on smartphones then whether it’s Android or iOS. The story is completely different on PCs and consoles.
However, many computer or console based puzzle games have been able to take the spotlight over the years from other mainstream genres. Below, we have put together a comprehensive list of the best puzzle games that you should try this year.
Table of Contents
16. The Bridge
The Bridge/The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
Developer: The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild
The Bridge is a fan-favorite puzzle game set in a surreal environment with grey scale and hand-drawn landscape, taking inspiration from the works of famous Dutch artist M.C. Escher.
While the visuals are undeniably the highlight of this game, it also features smart game mechanics at least in a few segments. The puzzles in the game can be solved by rotating the environment (ceiling can turn into the floor) which changes the effects of gravitation on objects.
15. The Room Series
Developer: Fireproof Games
Platform: Android, iOS, Nintendo switch, Windows
The Room is a series of four addictive 3D puzzle games each of which is divided into stages or rooms. These rooms carry a number of hidden puzzles which you must solve in order to progress. This process should be repeated over and over in order to reach the end game.
But keep in mind that both the quantity and complexity of puzzles will increase with every passing level. The new addition in the series The Room: Old Sins carry features like cloud saving, Google Play Games achievements, and an exploration element which sets the game apart from the previous three installments.
14. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild/Nintendo EDP
Developer: Nintendo EDP
Platform: Nintendo, Wii U
Make no mistake, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wind is not a puzzle game in its entirety but it does offer a good deal of puzzle challenges that you can enjoy. The puzzle solving element, although present, has somewhat restricted use in previous games in the Zelda series. In Breath of the Wild, however, players are free to engage in puzzles and other side quests more often.
The puzzles can range from simple ones where you need to complete a task in an orderly manner to more complex physics-based puzzles. To make things more engaging, developers have reduced the total amount of time it should ideally take to complete one puzzle.
Developer: Zachtronics Industries
Platform: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
In SpaceChem, you take the role of a reactor engineer whose job is to produce chemicals in time for them to be exported. You will be able to do that with the help of two remote manipulators called ‘waldos’. A well-programmed circuit including the waldos will allow atoms and molecules to interact the way they should, to produce the chemical.
Needless to say, the puzzles will only become harder with every passing level, however, you can try optional puzzles in each level (which are also not easy to solve by the way). To keep things competitive, the game compares the player’s performances after every puzzle based on certain parameters.
12. Scribblenauts Unlimited
Scribblenauts Unlimited/ 5th Cell
Developer: 5th Cell
Scribblenauts Unlimited, based roughly on the premise of the original Scribblenauts released in 2009, is a side-scrolling game which allows you (players) to solve puzzles by interacting with various objects. These interactions allow your character, Maxwell, to gain “Starites,” a special object which is required to finish each level.
Players can also summon a large number of objects into the game-play which can range from a simple ladder to a helicopter. All you need to do is type a noun (legal) on the screen and it’s there. You can also experiment with the appearance of these objects and give them certain capabilities.
11. Tetris Effect
Developer: Monstars Inc. and Resonair
Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR
Tetris Effect is essentially a modernized version of the legendary tile-matching game Tetris. It introduces the “Zone” mechanic, a layer or feature you may call, which not only allow players to get out of really tight spots but also help them earn more points by stretching the duration of levels a bit longer than they would usually run.
There are 30 different levels in the game, each with its distinct sound effect and ecstatic background themes, which in my opinion is the highlight of the game. Tetris Effect won multiple awards in 2018 including the Game Critics Awards and the Game Developer Choice Awards for “Best VR/AR Game.”
Platform: Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and 4
The one thing I liked about Catherine is its authenticity. It has something new to offer. The gameplay revolves around Vincent Brooks (your character), a middle-aged man who spends most of the time hanging with his friends at a local bar. Vincent’s life takes a drastic turn when his girlfriend, Katherine, who is with him for the last few years asks him to marry her.
Baffled and unsettled with Katherine’s insistence, Vincent somehow ends up having an affair with a beautiful young woman named Catherine with a C, whom he meets at the bar. Now things start getting worse for Vincent.
The game is divided into two segments spanning over day and night. During the daytime, your character can do certain things like chatting with his friends and ordering drinks. The puzzle element of the game takes place during night time, well it’s actually ‘nightmare times.’
Your objective is to climb giant staircases which are slowly collapsing, and safely reach the top. Remember it’s all happening in Vincent’s dream. In order to climb the staircase, you must quickly push and pull blocks while avoiding certain pitfalls.
9. Lara Croft Go
Lara Croft Go/ Square Enix Montreal
Developer: Square Enix Montreal
At the time of its launch in 2015, Lara Croft Go became the second game in Square Enix’s Go series, and sadly it’s the last one too. Like its predecessor, Lara Croft Go is also a turn-based puzzle game but has been able to hang on to the core elements of the Tomb Raider franchise as well.
Your objective is to guide Lara through a series of obstacles and enemies in order reach the end target and you must do it in a turn-based manner. Puzzles are made-up of traps, bottomless pits, and boulders that you must avoid. Enemies come in all kind of shapes and sizes from lizards and giant spiders.
As the stages go on, puzzles will become harder and new enemies will emerge. Lara Croft Go has been widely admired for its smart, clean design and an enjoyable rate of progression. On a personal note, while some of its levels are relatively less challenging, I found the game adequately demanding.
You are a kid who suddenly finds himself in the middle of a shadowy forest. Torn between the horror and the desire to find your missing sister, you wander around the woods filled with traps and monsters hiding in the shadows waiting to jump in. It’s oddly disturbing to find out that how simple perspectives can make things horrifying.
Limbo is divided into two halves; in first, you’ll confront various creatures who are either dead or out to harm you. The second half features all those mechanical puzzles which you need to solve to reach the end game.
Players are expected to fail or die multiple times before finally getting the correct solution. The game, however, avoids being frustrating by using what developers call “trial-and-death” mechanism, in which you’ll restart the game right before where you die over and over until you get past the puzzle.
Platform: Android, iOS, Xbox One, Browser-based
Threes is a sliding puzzle game set on a four-by-four grid featuring numbered tiles. It operates by combining two subsequent numbers and multiples of three. For example, you can merge ones with twos which will produce the number “three”. In the other scenario, when you combine two “three” numbered tiles it will produce a single “six,” two sixes to make “twelve,” and so on.
The goal is simple, to obtain a final score as high as possible which will be calculated at the end of each game. A game ends when there is no room for any move. Threes was released in 2014 initially for iOS devices but soon became available for Android and Xbox One. It was named the best iPhone game of 2014.
6. Monument Valley
Monument Valley is a well-designed mobile based puzzle game in which the player controls princess Ida. Your objective is to guide the princess through a series of impossible objects or illusions in order to accomplish the given objective. You will be able to do that by twisting and manipulating the initial architectural setting of those objects.
To make things more difficult, the mysterious ‘crow people’ will appear in random stages blocking your way. The core game has ten levels which can be extended to eighteen with an expansion pack.
5. The Witness
The Witness/ Thekla, Inc
Developer: Thekla, Inc.
Platform: Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, iOS, macOS
The Witness is an interesting and sometimes frustrating puzzle adventure game in which the player solve numerous challenging puzzles while exploring an open world island. The objective, as expected, is to solve every one of them in order to reach the endgame. The entire island is split into eleven different regions enclosing a mountain.
All the puzzles in the game are maze-like and can be solved by drawing a path connecting the start point to the goal or endpoint. You must follow certain rules while progressing, and these rules can change from puzzle-to-puzzle.
While many of them can be solved quite easily, most are a hard nut to crack. An important component of the game is yellow boxes that carry a set of puzzles which must be solved in order to activate them and eventually conclude a region.
4. The Talos Principle
The Talos Principle/Croteam
Platform: Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Linux, Android
Inspired by Talos, a machine who protected Europa from pirates and invaders in Greek mythology, the Croatian gaming company Croteam developed The Talos Principle. Here, you will take the role of a robot with human-level consciousness and take on more than a hundred puzzle set in multiple environments.
In order to reach the end game, you must collect ‘sigils’ by overcoming obstacles and maneuvering mazes. As the game progresses, you will also be affected by ‘philosophical conundrums’ about your own existence.
3. Hexcells Infinite
Hexcells/Matthew Brown Games
Developer: Matthew Brown
Platform: Windows, iOS, Steam
If you’re much into logic-based puzzle games like Sudoku or Slitherlink and want for something similar for PC then you don’t have to look any further than Hexcells Infinite. At first, the game may look like a straight out combination of minesweeper and Griddlers, but mark my words, it has much more to offer.
Unlike Microsoft’s age-old freebie, Hexcells does not enforce guesswork and every puzzle has a logical solution. The orange hexagon cells in the game are accompanied by few scattered numbered cells which gives you a hint about how many of its adjacent cells are part of the pattern and to be marked.
After few levels in, the game not only become harder but actually evolves as numbers start appearing outside the grid. Like other games in this genre, Hexcells Infinite allows certain mistakes, like marking the wrong cell, which will not affect your game up until you reach a dead end.
2. World of Goo
World of Goo/2D Boy
Developer: 2D Boy
Platform: Switch, Windows, Linux, macOS, Android
World of Goo is an award-winning puzzle game in which you design and create various structures using goo balls. Well, to be honest, describing this game simply by its mechanics can be deceiving, at least at first.
Your objective, as mentioned earlier, is to construct bridges, high rises, and other makeshift structures by knitting goo balls in order to overcome difficulties like hills, spikes, and cliffs so that the remaining ones can squirm their way to the ‘other side.’
There is a total of five chapters each of which introduces new types of goo balls. Each level has its own graphic and musical theme, giving it a unique atmosphere. The game is known for its ingenuity, presentation, and control.
1. Portal 1 and 2
Portal 2/ Valve Corporation
Developer: Valve Corporation
Platform: Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, macOS
No list of best puzzle games is complete without Valve’s Portal Series and I can say that with complete confidence. Their brilliance cannot be simply ignored. Initially released as part of a five-game collection called ‘The Orange Box’, the original Portal was more of an experiment with just few dialog and short gameplay. Nevertheless, it makes up for that in intensity and excitement.
Keeping Portal’s initial success in mind, Valve launched Portal 2 with superior mechanics and more elaborative gameplay. Both games are based on a simple premise in which players solve puzzles using portals.