Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- #22 Stray
- #21 FAR: Changing Tides
- #20 Portal Reloaded
- #19 Little Nightmares 2
- #18 Poly Bridge 2
- #17 The Swapper
- #16 Zero Escape Trilogy
- #15 Antichamber
- #14 Helltaker
- #13 The Room Series
- #12 Unravel Series
- #11 Escape Simulator
- #10 Trine Series
- #9 The Witness
- #8 Inside
- #7 Braid
- #6 Fez
- #5 Celeste
- #4 The Talos Principle
- #3 World of Goo
- #2 Myst Series
- #1 Portal 1 + 2
- Bonus: Baba Is You
Puzzle games. They’ve been around since the beginning, appealing to those who want a challenge in their games beyond “shooting everything in sight” or “figuring out your RPG team lineup.” What ones are the best around? Here are our picks for the best puzzle games ever made.
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Microsoft Windows Trending
- Release date: July 19, 2022
- Developer: BlueTwelve Studio
- Publisher: Annapurna Interactive
Stray is the science-fiction game that you didn’t know you needed to play, and possibly the most unusual one around. Set in a futuristic secret city hidden beneath ruins, a stray cat finds itself trapped in a world that is completely foreign. The aesthetics of this city were supposedly influenced by Kowloon Walled City, an ungoverned and densely populated Chinese enclave in British-ruled Hong Kong. Not only is the setting incredibly futuristic, it still harbors the grime and dirt of a super city from our very own Earth – calling this the perfect playground for an adventurous stray cat would be an understatement.
#21 FAR: Changing Tides
- Publisher: Frontier Developments plc
- Developer: Okomotive
- Platforms: Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 5
- Release Date: February 21, 2022
A follow-up to Far Lone Sails, Far Changing Tides features a new protagonist and takes part in a new part of the world. You are a lone boy who must take the helm of a ship in order to sail across a barren land in order to find a new home. Tasked with learning more about your ship and the mysteries of the world, the game is meant to give you a meditative experience, but also a compelling one as you avoid dangers and solve puzzles. For a more unique gaming experience, try this out.
#20 Portal Reloaded
- Publisher: Portanis
- Developer: Portanis
- Platform: PC
- Release Date: April 19, 2021
Portal is something we’ll talk about in full later, but we thought we’d start the main list off by talking about a community mod that took things to a whole new dimension. In Portal Reloaded, you’ll have the ability to open three portals with your gun, allowing you to dive into a set of timelines to try to solve intense 4D puzzles. Leave it to the community to try and take things to the next level. With 25 different and all-new puzzles to partake in, this isn’t one that fans to miss.
#19 Little Nightmares 2
- Publishers: Bandai Namco, Namco Bandai Games America Inc.
- Developers: Tarsier Studios, Supermassive Games
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows, Google Stadia
- Release Date: February 10, 2021
After the success Tarsier Studios had with Little Nightmares, a sequel was unavoidable. The game is a follow-up to the first installment with Six escaping the Maw. However, you will not be playing as Six but instead as a new protagonist named Mono. Players are in for a new horror treat as Mono and Six will be escaping more hostile enemies as they attempt their journey to sanctuary. With that said, much like the first game, Little Nightmares 2 focuses on players using stealth to keep out of sight of the hostile enemies that lurk around the map.
#18 Poly Bridge 2
- Publisher: Dry Cactus
- Developer: Dry Cactus
- Platforms: Android, macOS, iOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems
- Release Date: May 28, 2020
Sometimes a puzzle game is more than just putting pieces into place, it’s about making sure your work holds up to snuff. Poly Bridge 2 is the sequel to the hit bridge simulator that asks you to build a bridge and see if it holds up. Do a poor job, and a collection of cars and trucks will plummet into the ocean below. There are all sorts of ways to get the job done, including using brand new materials. Is this is a bridge too far? Jump in and find out.
#17 The Swapper
- Publishers: Facepalm Games, Nintendo, Curve Games
- Developers: Facepalm Games, Curve Games, Olli Harjola, Otto Hantula, Tom Jubert, Carlo Castellano
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Linux, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, MORE
- Release Date: May 30, 2013
You are alone on a damaged space station and you have to find your way out no matter what. The twist? Your tool is a clone gun. You’ll have to swap between up to four clones in order to open doors and do various other things to make it through the station alive. But there is much more going on here than meets the eye, and you’ll have to make some tough choices as you try and figure out the truth about what’s really going on.
#16 Zero Escape Trilogy
- Publishers: Spike Chunsoft, Aksys Games, Spike, Rising Star Games
- Developer: Spike Chunsoft
- Platform(s): Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, iOS, Microsoft Windows
- First Release Date: December 10, 2009
The Zero Escape Trilogy puts you and nine strangers together in a room, but why are you there? To get out. You’ll have to work together to not just find out the truth from the mysterious “Zero” but also to solve puzzles. Do well, or you’ll start to lose people. The trilogy throws some fun twists into the mix, so keep your wits about you, find out whether someone is telling the truth or not, and get out alive!
- Publisher: Demruth
- Developer: Demruth
- Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, Classic Mac OS
- Release Date: January 31, 2013
Antichamber is another in a long line of puzzle games where the setting is just as important as the puzzle gameplay itself.
You can’t take anything for granted in terms of your surroundings as you find yourself in a world that is very much like a painting. Things weave and out and fall into one another, and you’ll have to traverse this world while also solving puzzles in order to advance. Will you be able to sift through what is and isn’t right in front of you? Oh, and did we mention that you’ll also have a gun that can create and destroy things?
- Publisher: Vanripper
- Developer: Vanripper
- Platforms: Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Macintosh operating systems
- Release Date: May 11, 2020
Sometimes, you have to wonder what these game devs are thinking about when they make these games. When it comes to Helltaker, your whole purpose is to go to the underworld to try to romance some ladies who happen to be demons. You’ll need to fight, solve puzzles, and win the hearts of the demon girls of your dreams. Just be mindful–these are demon girls, and they’ll kill you if they get the urge. Actually, they might just kill you no matter what.
#13 The Room Series
- Publishers: Fireproof Studios, Team17
- Developers: Fireproof Studios, Fireproof Games
- Platforms: iOS, Android, PC, Switch
- First Release Date: September 1, 2012
The Room series is a set of games that will test you as your character falls into madness. In the games, you’ll play as someone who is trapped in a house (then a dimension and other places) where you must solve clues in order to figure out what’s going on. If you take too long to get to the bottom of the mystery, your mind will begin playing tricks on you, eventually becoming too much to handle. This darker title is best for older audiences.
#12 Unravel Series
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Developers: Coldwood Interactive AB, Coldwood Interactive
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One
- First Release: February 9, 2016
From Coldwood Interactive comes Unravel, a beautiful title telling a story of a small figure made from red yarn. Players are tasked with exploring a detailed world and locating memories. Being made of yarn, to progress, our protagonist must unravel itself to reach new areas. This is a puzzle game as much as it is a platformer, and as our adorable yarn figure loses more and more yarn, gamers must figure out a means to claim more thread or use what’s available to reach new areas.
Unravel Two was a surprise release during E3 2018. The big change-up in this title is the addition of two-player local multiplayer co-op. Similar to the previous title, players will control a pair of yarn creatures that must make their way through a series of increasingly difficult levels. With a limited amount of yarn attached to their bodies restricting their movement, each level requires a bit of puzzle-solving in order to progress. With new hostile enemies and locations to deal with, players will desperately need the help of a friend in order to progress through the game.
#11 Escape Simulator
- Publishers: Pine Studio, Pine Studio D.O.O.
- Developers: Pine Studio, Pine Studio D.O.O.
- Platforms: macOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, Macintosh operating systems
- Release Date: February 3, 2021
In this puzzle game, you can take on an escape room alone or with friends. There are 20 different rooms that you’ll need to escape–each one is different and filled with tricky puzzles to solve. If that’s not enough for you, the game also offers community rooms that you can challenge! Why not test your brain cells and see if you can escape in time? You’ll earn some bragging rights.
#10 Trine Series
- Publishers: Frozenbyte, Nintendo, Modus Games, Russobit-M
- Developers: Frozenbyte, Blitworks
- Platforms: PC, Console
- First Release Date: July 3, 2009
Believe it or not, there are actually four different games in the Trine series, and you can get the whole collection for yourself on places like Steam for a good price. The games mix action and puzzle gameplay as you’ll have to use your wits and your strength in order to solve physics-based puzzles. What’s more, it’s not just “you” who is doing the task–you have a team that you can choose to help out based on their own abilities.
#9 The Witness
- Publishers: Thekla Inc., NVIDIA Lightspeed Studios
- Developer: Thekla Inc.
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Android, iOS, macOS, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Nvidia Shield TV, Classic Mac OS
- Release Date: January 26, 2016
Who doesn’t love a good puzzle? The Witness is nothing but a puzzle game, in which players are dropped on an island filled with puzzles that only get more complex and vague as you progress. The experience is quite soothing and visually appealing, and while it’s a more quiet and laid-back experience, it’s a breath of fresh air.
You might find this game to be a bit less baffling with the help of another player. Unfortunately, this is a single-player video game experience–but the game is all about looking at puzzles from multiple perspectives. It’s a perfect title to hand the controller back and forth.
- Publisher: Playdead
- Developer: Playdead
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, macOS, iOS, Macintosh operating systems
- Release Date: June 29, 2016
Developed by Playdead, creators of the 2010 video game Limbo, players will find the same tone with Inside. In the game, players take on the role of a young boy who is forced to go through a harsh and dangerous dystopia. Much of the same gameplay mechanics are brought over to Inside from Limbo. With that said, gamers can also expect a dark and gloomy artistic title that will remain with them long after the credits roll.
- Publisher: Number None, Inc., Number None, Hothead Games
- Developers: Number None, Inc., Number None, Hothead Games
- Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Linux, Classic Mac OS, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
- Release Date: August 6, 2008
Braid is a classic title that puts a twist on just about everything we know about puzzle games. You play as Tim, a man who is trying to save a princess. The gameplay twist is that you have ability to rewind time in order to learn from mistakes and use the environment to your advantage. It’s a very fun title and the twist at the end, well…you’ll just have to find out on your own. The level design and gameplay loop make this endlessly replayable.
- Publisher: Trapdoor
- Developer: Polytron Corporation
- Platforms: PC, Console
- Release Date: May 1, 2013
Easily one of the most beloved games of the last decade, Fez puts you into the role of Gomez, a 2D being in a 2D world that suddenly becomes very 3D. Gomez is about to find out why. The game mixes classic and modern puzzles along with a narrative that’ll help you expand what you think you know about this world. You’re encouraged to look at this game with different perspectives to not just solve the puzzles, but learn secrets that flesh out the narrative.
- Publisher: Matt Makes Games
- Developers: Matt Makes Games, Extremely OK Games, Ltd.
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
- Release Date: January 25, 2018
Celeste is a platformer developed under Matt Thorson and Noel Berry. The video game is a fast-paced platformer where players take control of a young girl named Madeline. Overall, the goal within the game is to climb up a massive mountain known as Celeste Mountain. This is an addictive platformer where players will have to make quick maneuvers around each level to avoid obstacles along with gathering collectibles along the way. There is also an engaging story that will pull players in as they find out more about the mountain and our heroine.
#4 The Talos Principle
- Publishers: Croteam, Devolver Digital, Nighthawk Interactive
- Developer: Croteam
- Platform: PC
- Release Date: December 11, 2014
The Talos Principle is a beloved puzzle game that still holds up to this day. You are a creation in a world that seems in conflict with itself, and your creator tasks you with the challenge of solving puzzles in the world–over 120 of them, to be precise.
As you go and solve the puzzles, you’ll find yourself asking key questions. Not the least of which is that of who you are, where you are, and whether or not you should listen to the creator. The world is yours to solve and explore, and the path you take will define what the world is in your eyes. And with special DLC, you’ll have even more to explore.
#3 World of Goo
- Publishers: 2D Boy, Tomorrow Corporation, Nintendo, Xbox Game Studios, Brighter Minds Media
- Developer: 2D Boy
- Platforms: Android, iOS, Linux, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, Classic Mac OS, Wii
- Release Date: October 13, 2008
There are all sorts of builder games out there, but with World of Goo, that gets taken to a whole new level. In this title, you’ll be in a strange world that requires you to use living entities of goo and other materials in order to solve puzzles. As a result, you’ll need to get creative, work with the materials/beings you have, and try to figure out what the next level is wanting from you. The game is easy to learn but hard to master, and when you’re “done” with the main game, you can head online and put your skills to the test against other players.
#2 Myst Series
- Publishers: Cyan Ventures, Brøderbund Software, Ubisoft,
- Developers: Cyan Ventures, Ubisoft, Presto Studios, Sunsoft
- Platforms: PC
- Release Date: September 24, 1993
The first of its kind in terms of puzzle games, the Myst series has gone above and beyond over the years to creative compelling gameplay situations and stories to be had.
You’re put into a world that you’re viewing with your own eyes, and through your interactions, you’ll learn more about the world, solve puzzles, and so on.
The game has had many iterations, parodies, and games who have taken the torch and ran with it. Oh, and then in 2021, they remade the original game to be played in VR! Further giving you a unique way of playing the title.
So whether you go to the OG classic, or the newer ones that embrace the new elements of gaming technology, this is a series you shouldn’t miss out on.
#1 Portal 1 + 2
- Publishers: Valve Corporation, Electronic Arts, Headup Games
- Developers: Valve Corporation, Electronic Arts, ClockStone
- Platform(s): Microsoft Windows; Xbox 360; PlayStation 3; OS X; Linux; Android; Nintendo Switch
- Release Date: October 10, 2007
Portal 1 + 2 are some of the most creative games ever made, period. These unique puzzle shooters blend physics and shooting in a way that made them infinitely popular with gamers (as proven by the mod shown earlier). In both games, you’ll be put to the test to see if you can outsmart the mechanical Glados. But how you go about solving the puzzles will test your problem-solving and creativity to the max. So dive in, grab your portal gun, and get the job done.
Bonus: Baba Is You
- Publishers: Hempuli Oy, Hempuli, Arvi Teikari
- Developers: Hempuli Oy, Arvi Teikari, MP2 Games
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Android, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Classic Mac OS
- Release Date: March 13, 2019
This title was first shown as a demo via a Game Jam (a place where indie devs make and show off games) and then got expanded to a full puzzle title. In it, you play in a world where the rules are literal physical objects you interact with. And as a result, you’ll need to solve puzzles by literally changing the world and the very way you play. It’s a unique twist on things, and we only just scratched the surface of it. So check it out for yourself and see what you think!