Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- #23 Pneuma: Breath of Life
- #22 Chroma Gun
- #21 The Turing Test
- #20 Afterparty
- #19 Broken Age
- #18 Tacoma
- #17 A Way Out
- #16 Sexy Brutale
- #15 Little Nightmares
- #14 Thimbleweed Park
- #13 The Talos Principle
- #12 Outer Wilds
- #11 The Swapper
- #10 Little Nightmares II
- #9 Inside
- #8 Life is Strange
- #7 The Witness
- #6 It Takes Two
- #5 Telltale Games Lineup
- #4 Oxenfree
- #3 What Remains Of Edith Finch
- #2 12 Minutes
- #1 Portal 2
Get lost in a puzzle game. In this list we’re diving int some of the best titles that feature some puzzle gameplay. If you’re wanting a brain teaser then you’ve come to the right place.
#23 Pneuma: Breath of Life
Pneuma: Breath of Life is a first-person puzzle game that puts players into the role of a god named Pneuma. Here you’re toying with the in-game world and listening in on his monologue. Being a god, you’re given the power to lift bridges or rotating massive buildings. As a result, it’s a mix of comedy narrative with puzzles that’s not too difficult to grasp but it’s also not a lengthy game at all. You’ll likely get it completed in under three hours.
#22 Chroma Gun
Chroma Gun has players going through an FPS-like puzzle game. Here players will have a weapon that can paint walls a primary color which will attract orbs in the level of that same color. Players are essentially trying to get the orbs to hit different spots of the map to unlock doors. It sounds easy but things can get complicated. However, you’ll need to be mindful of the walls as you can’t repaint sections with your weapon after they have already been covered.
#21 The Turing Test
The Turning Test is a game that takes players into the future as a space engineer named Ava Turing. When a crew seemingly goes missing on a moon near Jupiter, Ava is sent in to track down and figure out what happened. However, several puzzles are preventing Ava from progressing forward and it will require our protagonist to solve them through mainly the use of this specialized tool she will have equipped throughout the game.
With this gun-like tool, Ava can absorb and fire out a collection of energy. These energy orbs will allow Ava to power up different machinery or unlock doors. However, players will need to think carefully about where they place the orbs. Fortunately, Ava can quickly zap into the camera feeds of the room in order to get a better view of walls or obstacles that players may not see initially.
Coming off their successful debut title release Oxenfree, Night School Studios brought out a similar game into the marketplace called Afterparty. Getting through university is a big deal and what better way than to celebrate with your friends than a night of partying guzzling down as much booze as your fleshy mortal body can handle right? Well for our protagonists, their night of partying ends them up in a morgue as they find themselves in the depths of hell. Now it’s a quest to track down satan and out-drink him to get their lives back.
Developed to be a more modern adventure game, players are wandering around the world and interacting with different objects and characters to gather more information or solving puzzles to progress the narrative. Overall, you’re gonna find some light puzzles, minigames, and dialogue choices as the main gameplay mechanics here.
#19 Broken Age
Double Fine Productions has delivered some fan favorites over the years. Games like Brutal Legend, Costume Quest, and of course Psychonauts. For this list, we decided to bring out Broken Age into the limelight, an old-school-style point-and-click adventure game. This graphic adventure puts players in control of two individuals that players can swap back and forth with when you’re needing a break from a particular puzzle.
We have a young teenage male who is stuck in a spaceship with an AI system throwing him into missions made to appeal towards young children of which he’s grown bored of. Meanwhile, we have a teenage female in a distant land that’s being prepared as a sacrifice to some gigantic monster. Both characters may have their unique predicaments and a storyline to follow but the gameplay is more or less the same. You’ll click around the map, gather items, and attempt to use those items with your environment to progress through the storyline. All-in-all, it’s your classic-style adventure game wrapped up in a modern title release.
If you’re short on time and want a puzzle game wrapped around a narrative experience then give Tacoma a try. Set in the future, players take the role of an AI specialist that’s sent on a job to collect data from a space station after an emergency was resolved. Here players will wander about the station and can obtain information about the crew that was onboard the station going through the emergency. However, the recordings and humanoid figures that represent the characters on the ship are scattered in various timelines.
It’s up to players to figure out what happened to the crew and how they interacted with each other. With a rewind, fast forward, and pause mechanic of the AI system, players are encouraged in manipulating the time to learn more information and piece together what happened.
#17 A Way Out
A Way Out is an interesting game on a few levels. You have a big cinematic style adventure, there’s plenty of over-the-top moments, interesting characters, but most of all, it’s a game campaign that forces you to work with another player. That’s right, you’re gonna need a player two around to get through this campaign. Within A Way Out you follow two prison inmates as they embark on a journey of escape and from there it’s another thrilling journey as they each have their motivations and drives on what they need to take care of now on the outside. However, as mentioned, this is a game that heavily relies on cooperative gameplay, and it’s handled in a pretty interesting way. Thanks to the display being used as a split-screen no matter if you’re playing locally or online, both players can see each other during the game.
As a result, one player could be locked in a cutscene while the secondary player can progress with complete control of their character. This split-screen feature also has its moments when solving puzzles. Without spoiling too much of the narrative, one player could be taking the role of distracting a guard while the secondary player can sneak around into a restricted area to retrieve an item. Players will need about six hours to complete the game, but best of all only one copy is needed as a secondary player can be freely invited to join in on the fun.
#16 Sexy Brutale
Sexy Brutale is a game that has our protagonist stuck in a time loop. Setup in a groundhog style narrative, players take the role of an individual that’s forced into saving a slew of guests in a mansion. While initially getting a chance to view how each character dies, players can restart the day and attempt to make changes around the mansion to foil their deaths.
It’s not as simple as jumping into the room and actively interacting with a character as players can only spy on guests from adjoining areas. With each successful character saved, you’ll be given new abilities that can further aid your journey such as unlocking new areas of the mansion. Players can break the time loop and reach the end once they managed to save every guest within the same day.
#15 Little Nightmares
Chances are you played Little Nightmares already and even if you haven’t, you know about this game. With no real dialogue to go off from, Little Nightmares story is still quite a horrifying one. It’s a title that’s similar to the likes of Limbo or Inside, but here the world is far more grotesque. Players are stepping into the role of a little girl in a raincoat trapped in a giant world full of monstrous humans that roam the facility.
Here players are just trying to escape and this puzzle platformer will have you not only thinking about how to progress through to the next area but also giving you the sense of urgency. This is just a creepy platform puzzle title that will instantly hook you into the gameplay and best of all when you wrap up this campaign, you can get a second helping thanks to the recently released sequel, Little Nightmares 2.
#14 Thimbleweed Park
Those of you who grew up playing the point-and-click adventure games on the PC will find Thimbleweed Park as a modern treatment of the late 1980 classics. The game first sets players up with two FBI agents that get pulled into a small town to investigate a murder case. However, this small town is quite unusual, almost as if it was pulled straight out of Twin Peaks. Here players are slowly introduced to additional characters that they can take control of and progress through each journey.
Whether it’s a ghost seeking redemption or a vulgar clown trying to live in a normal society, this game is full of narrative content to go through. With that said, this is still an old-school point-and-click adventure game so don’t expect too much hand-holding here. It’s all about walking around the different environments, gathering items, talking with individuals, and using all that brainpower of yours into figuring out just how to interact with the world with the items in your possession.
#13 The Talos Principle
Developed under Croteam who you might be familiar with from the Serious Sam IP comes The Talos Principle a video game that revolved around players completing a series of complex puzzles. Within the game, players take the role of an android who awakens on an island with nothing but a series of puzzles in his way. Slowly, as you complete the puzzle tasks, you’ll gain access to a mountain where the hidden narrative starts to shed light revealing the reason behind the android and the island filled with puzzles.
Its gameplay is a bit similar to The Witness in the sense that you’re freely moving around this world and just completing different puzzles. Its popularity has even sparked interest from the developers to bring out a sequel. The focus for a good while was the latest installment to Serious Sam 4 but with that title finally out, we may finally start seeing development progress forward with this sequel.
#12 Outer Wilds
Outer Wilds was developed by Mobius Digital where players take on the role of an astronaut that is stuck in a time loop. The only way to escape is to unlock the secrets of an extinct alien race. After 22 minutes pass, a sun goes into a supernova state thus resulting in the time loop restarting once again. The more you know and unlock will allow you to bypass certain sections with each loop. It’s a game all about exploration, solving codes along with a bit of trial and error.
In a lot of ways, it’s a bit like Myst as you’re not given much direction, instead, you simply move on to explore a new world and area to gather clues. Not to mention since this game plays a bit on time, you’ll find some interesting discoveries for planets you already explored simply by revisiting them at different times within your 22-minute time loop.
#11 The Swapper
The Swapper launched back in 2013 and if you missed it initially, don’t pass up on the title today. It’s a game set in space where you take the role of a lonely astronaut forced into collecting resources scattered around a complex maze. In a lot of ways, this game is a bit like Portal, a game series we’ll be covering later on this list. Instead of making portals to walk through and reach different areas, The Swapper puts players in control of a gun that replicates our protagonist’s body and from there you’re instantly in complete control of the new model.
With up to four models being available to place in a single area, each living model will replicate the moves you make in whatever body you’re currently inhabitant of. As you can imagine, the puzzles will often have players placing these models in different areas to move in unison, however, there will also be puzzles in which you’re actively sacrificing your models to reach new heights as you fire off a new body just before death. Again, similar to the Portal games, you could in theory get through this game in just a few hours.
#10 Little Nightmares II
As mentioned in our previous point, there is Little Nightmares II. This game is much like the first installment. It’s still an unsettling game where you’re taking the role of a young child in a massively distorted world. With nearly everything out to see your demise, it’s a battle of keeping away from the line of sight of creatures. Likewise, you’ll still have to figure out different small puzzles to get from one end of the level to the next. Meanwhile, our protagonist from the first game now has a friend with a young little boy who wears a bag over his head. We won’t spoil anything in the narrative as it’s still a relatively short game just like the first installment.
Inside puts players in a weird dystopia world where you control a young boy that’s on the run from an odd corporation capturing citizens and brainwashing them. Constantly, on the run, players will be using this young child to navigate the horrors of the hostile world such as keeping the kid safe from rabid dogs, massive security machines, to being fired upon by security guards inspecting the area.
Puzzles are all environmental here where you’ll need to use a mind-control device to get adults to open doors, pushing large obstacles from a greater height to break through flooring below, or activating pressure plates. All-in-all, it’s a platformer that features some simplistic controls, but don’t be fooled as even with simplistic controls, these puzzles can prove to be quite complex.
#8 Life is Strange
Dontnod Entertainment created something special with the Life is Strange franchise. Fans flocked to the game for its narrative journey that has spanned multiple installments now. While each game plays out similar in terms of the mechanics and mature storyline, we’ll focus on the first installment for this list. In Life is Strange players take the role of a young female student named Max who is accepted to a prestigious school from her old childhood hometown. It’s here that Max discovers she can rewind time and after rekindling her friendship with an old childhood best friend named Chloe, the duo sets off to use Max’s powers to uncover the disappearance of a former student.
The gameplay mixes between dialogue choices that will play a role in how the narrative continues along with puzzles in which Max may need to use her powers to rewind time to solve. As mentioned, there are other installments available with even a new title, Life is Strange: True Colors being released in September of 2021. Although those that enjoy the first game may want to dive into Life is Strange: Before The Storm, a prequel title that helps flesh out a bit more storyline behind Chloe Price.
#7 The Witness
The Witness, some of you will love this game, and others will be ready to pass it up immediately. This is just a collection of maze puzzles here as you’re dropped into this island with select areas open to explore. However, you’ll find that you can only explore the island up to a defined point. To open up new areas you’ll need to solve a collection of maze puzzles. These start out as easy simple little puzzles that you can quickly figure out without much thought but man do these mazes ramp up in difficulty.
You’re dealing with multiple lines to progress through at once and as they continue to get more difficult, the urge to quit is going to pop up. Thankfully, when you get to that point, you’re able to drop this puzzle and move on to something else. These puzzles are not necessarily needed to be complete in a specific order so again, if things get frustrating, which they will, you can move on to something else.
#6 It Takes Two
It Takes Two is a game from Hazelight Studios, the same folks who previously brought out A Way Out. Also, like A Way Out, It Takes Two also requires two players to complete the campaign. This time around, the game narrative is centered around two parents who have fallen out of love. With plans for a divorce, the duo instantly gets swapped into the bodies of two small figurines from their child. In order to get back into their normal bodies, the duo will have to communicate and work together. However, there are quite a few obstacles in their way. Overall, this is a puzzle platformer, but what may make this game a bit more appealing is the fact that the gameplay is always changing up, so you’re never just rehashing the same mechanics over and over again.
#5 Telltale Games Lineup
Telltale Games made some rather iconic new-age adventure games. Where yesteryear we were accustomed to point-and-click adventure games, Telltale Games released titles that put players more in control of a character as they explored their surroundings and interacted with different characters or environments. While this point is a bit generic as we didn’t label any particular game in this list, the studio mainly kept the gameplay pretty much the same across the board. What changed was the IP and storyline.
I think most would say that The Walking Dead was their biggest release and it’s certainly one that you can play right now from start to finish. Regardless, these are story-driven titles where players are actively changing the storyline in different ways by the choices they make. Likewise, there are a ton of puzzles to solve along the way. As a result, you’re encouraged in exploring the different areas, gathering items, and figuring out just how these items interact with the in-game world. While the original Telltale Games was disbanded after the studio closed down, the company has since been revived with the new team planning a sequel to another past iconic hit for the studio, The Wolf Among Us.
Night School Studios’ debut title was an indie hit. Oxenfree was such as well-told video game narrative that it’s still highly recommended for players today. Within the game, players take the role of Alex, a young teen that went to a seemingly abandoned island with some friends. Here, you slowly learn more about Alex and her recent passing of a brother that was also tied with the group of friends in different ways. While the night was planned out to be a party full of good times quickly turns into an emotional supernatural thriller that traps these kids on the island. To leave the island, Alex is forced into exploring the area, uncovering the past, and potentially changing the lives of her friends along the way.
Similar to Life is Strange and the Telltale Games, there’s plenty of dialogue here and choices along the way. Some of the choices you make will even lead to different outcomes and endings. Meanwhile, the puzzle element is done through an old radio Alex has equipped where players are required to dial into different frequencies to progress or having to play hangman with a ghost.
#3 What Remains Of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is often a game that comes up when players are looking for a new walking simulator adventure game. It’s short, full of different unique gameplay mechanics, and stories that keep players hooked in. Within the game, players are stepping back into the past as they venture through an old home that belonged to the Finch family. It’s here that we slowly unlock new rooms that once homed a single member before their untimely demise. Once within the room, players travel back in time and go through the individual family member’s last recorded memory where you’re attempting to figure out just how they perished.
As mentioned the gameplay mechanics change up frequently depending on the family member you unlocked, at one moment you’re quickly transforming into different animals and exploring the open world for wild prey or playing as a child that’s attempting to perfect a complete flip around the swing set. It’s a casual game as nothing is pushing you to progress forward so taking as long as you’d like to explore the area and attempt to figure out how to unlock each room is completely fine. Likewise, each room flashback doesn’t take players very long to complete before you’re tossed back to the present day in search for another room to unlock.
#2 12 Minutes
12 Minutes is an exclusive for Microsoft that is mostly a narrative point-and-click style adventure. In this game, players are taking the role of a man who gets home from work. It’s here that he heads home to his wife. However, they are soon greeted by a man claiming to be a police officer accusing your wife of murder. Fortunately, this is a game set in 12-minute increments before the game restarts. Each time the loop restarts, you’re able to make different changes or choices as you attempt to uncover more information. Eventually, you’ll finally get to the bottom of what’s going on. This will mean choosing different dialogue choices and interacting with the environment around you in order to uncover all the necessary information to end the loop.
#1 Portal 2
The Portal series is another iconic puzzle game that we highly suggest checking out if you have yet to do so. Specifically, it’s worth checking out the sequel Portal 2 if you have to pick between the two. This is a game that makes players think outside of the box thanks to a gun that allows players to shoot two transportation points that sync with each other. At first, you’ll quickly understand how these puzzles work. You place a portal in an area you can’t reach and then lay down another where you’re currently at. From there it’s as simple as walking through the portal.
However, the difficulty spikes up with additional item requirements, moving platforms, and even turrets that would fire at the protagonist. While the second installment greatly improved the gameplay and mechanics from the first installment, it also brought in a multiplayer mode that offered some additional puzzles that required two players to work together to complete them. It’s not a lengthy game, but some puzzles may keep you stumped. For now, it’s a waiting game to see if Valve ever picks this IP back up for a third installment.