The growing popularity of puzzle games is evident with big-budget titles like Stray appealing to a broader audience. Now this audience craves to know what are some of the best puzzle games of all time on all platforms. These games offer a range of challenges and gameplay mechanics, from walking sims to first-person shooters, making them transcend the genre’s traditional boundaries.
Games like Portal and PC titles like The Talos Principle have garnered appeal beyond puzzle enthusiasts who enjoy brain workouts. Here in Virlan, we’ve tried to select the best puzzle games available on each platform. Our selection has some of the finest in the puzzle-based games genre and some titles that, in our opinion, deserve a bit more attention from the fans. Without further ado, here are the best puzzle games:
Best Puzzle Games on Mobile
Puzzle games are deeply associated with mobile gaming; the finest ones are tailored to suit devices without buttons. They have a gameplay pace that complements short gaming sessions, accommodating the start-and-stop nature of mobile gaming. For example, games like Monument Valley skillfully combine puzzles with optical illusions, while others like Lara Croft Go draw inspiration from the classic adventure puzzles of the original Tomb Raider series.
Moreover, the best mobile puzzle games offer a great sense of accomplishment for players who persevere. Some games combine puzzles with a captivating storyline, while others provide a casual experience perfect for quick play sessions. So, here are the top mobile puzzle games available on both Android and iOS platforms. Let the puzzling begin!
10. Maze Machina
Despite the declining profitability of premium mobile games, Tiny Touch Tales continues to showcase its excellent skills in developing mobile games. Maze Machina, another example of their mastery, presents a fantastic take on the maze concept. The game offers a considerable challenge, a substantial number of levels, and is replayable without becoming monotonous.
9. Hidden Through Time
Hidden Through Time is an impressive hidden object game that features stunning art, cute animations, and enjoyable gameplay. Players will spend most of their time deciphering clues to locate all the hidden objects in each level, and the stages are pleasantly animated, keeping players engaged for hours as they search for every hidden object. If you appreciate games like Hidden Folks but desire a vibrant and colorful experience, Hidden Through Time will undoubtedly delight you.
8. Cessabit: a Stress Relief Game
Cessabit is labeled as a stress relief game, which is accurate. Your task is to examine each hand-drawn picture in the game and respond to questions about the image to the best of your ability. You can tap objects in each stage to reveal helpful hints if questions are challenging. The captivating line art enhances the game’s visual appeal, making it a delightful sight to behold. If you appreciate relaxing memory games, Cessabit is a perfect choice that fulfills all the right requirements.
7. Lara Croft Go
Many sterling series have faced criticism due to weaker entries, particularly experiencing a sophomore slump where the challenge lies in recapturing the original’s greatness without repeating it excessively. Each installment in the Go series has its unique strengths and mechanics, but Lara Croft Go stands out as the best in the series.
Hitman Go suffered from odd, turn-counter challenges, which only added repetitive gameplay without expanding the content significantly. Deus Ex Go’s attempt to introduce daily challenges and community-generated puzzles largely failed to make an impact. However, Lara Croft Go and its two expansions struck the perfect balance in terms of challenge, presentation, and pacing. Its focused treasure hunts provide an engaging experience for players of all skill levels.
6. Monument Valley
Monument Valley, possibly one of the finest puzzle games on mobile, offers a straightforward yet expansive puzzling experience. Its most memorable mechanic involves treating each puzzle like an optical illusion, allowing players to manipulate the space creatively to find a path for the princess (the player’s character) to traverse. Additionally, each puzzle is designed as a beautifully crafted diorama with architectural elements and multiple floors.
5. Where Shadows Slumber
Fans of Monument Valley and Square Enix’s Go games will find this game an excellent choice. While it may not offer the same level of variety and cleverness as those other titles, its design showcases a unique ingenuity that still satisfies the gaming urge. The use of light and dark to alter the scene in front of players is exceptionally creative.
This maze-based puzzle game features intuitive controls and a rewarding gameplay loop. With its atmospheric and imaginative elements, Where Shadows Slumber deserves a spot on our ‘best of’ list.
4. The Room Three
The Room series has received much praise for its outstanding value, craftsmanship, and numerous critical awards. Plenty of mistaken-identity jokes have been based on the cult film of the same name.
Puzzle boxes offer a distinct and enjoyable tactile experience, encapsulating a whole world within a single object, and enticing players to open it out of sheer curiosity. The Room brilliantly capitalizes on this concept, offering a portable, affordable experience that maintains an air of mystery.
3. Baba Is You
Baba Is You uses cryptic words to take the traditional Sokoban puzzle game and adds a twist. Combining certain words will unlock specific abilities and areas, which is the key to solving each puzzle. However, these solutions are not easy, as the game is incredibly challenging. Nevertheless, the satisfaction of finding the solution is the reward, and it feels fantastic once you overcome a puzzle that was previously baffling you.
Despite being a short game with a 7-hour completion time, Baba Is You stands out as one of the best puzzle games on the platform. That’s why it’s an excellent choice to start with in today’s puzzle game roundup.
2. Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon
Netflix Games has released Shovel Knight Pocket Dungeon on the Play Store, making the popular puzzle roguelike available for Android users. Although it differs from the original platformer, the puzzle-based gameplay is excellent, featuring falling block mechanics familiar to Tetris fans. The game’s mechanics are easy to grasp, yet challenging to master, resulting in an addictive gameplay loop without intrusive monetization to spoil the experience. To play, you’ll need a Netflix account, but apart from that, this premium release matches up to its console and PC versions.
1. World Of Goo
Improvements in video game physics have greatly enhanced puzzle gaming in recent decades, and World of Goo is one of the titles that has benefited the most from this upgrade. User nospr2 expressed disbelief at the game’s quality, stating, “Wow…World of Goo was one of my favorite games I’ve played.”
In this physics-based puzzler, goo serves as the actual building blocks for each level. The player’s objective is to assist characters in crossing massive chasms by constructing structures made of goo. The real challenge arises when the player is restricted in the amount of goo they can use, and this difficulty ensures that the game never becomes repetitive.
Best Puzzle Games On PC
In the world of video games, puzzle games are beloved for challenging our minds and stimulating our intellect. Whether it’s the classic point ‘n’ click adventures, physics-based puzzles, or space-themed challenges, puzzles are a staple genre offering diverse experiences. Puzzle games can even blend with RPGs or adventure games and encompass horror or hacking elements. With such a vast array of puzzle games available, creating a list of the best is akin to solving a puzzle.
Puzzles come in all shapes and sizes, catering to different preferences. The best part is that all these games are readily playable on PC, eliminating the need for emulators. We’ll continue to update the list with new and captivating puzzle games, so check back regularly for fresh additions. Scroll down to explore the full list, or click on any game that piques your interest below.
10. Return To Monkey Island
Ron Gilbert and Dave Grossman return to the iconic piratical adventure series, Monkey Island, with their latest creation, Return To Monkey Island. The game takes place after the events of The Curse Of Monkey Island, following the journey of Guybrush Threepwood, a renowned pirate, as he finally sets out to uncover the secret of Monkey Island. In the past, his attempts were sidetracked by his love for Elaine Marley and his rivalry with the zombie pirate, LeChuck, both vying for her hand in marriage.
Return To Monkey Island stands out as a robust and engaging point-and-click puzzle game, utilizing entertaining cartoony logic in its various puzzles. Players can choose from two difficulty settings for added challenges. The game pays homage to its beloved predecessors with familiar locations, characters, and jokes, but it also introduces fresh elements to keep the experience novel. The narrative delves into meta aspects, exploring Guybrush’s status as a famous adventurer and how things are changing, questioning if he still holds the same significance. However, this does not alienate newcomers to the series. Return To Monkey Island is undoubtedly one of the best puzzle games on PC.
Vessel is widely regarded as one of the finest steampunk video games, effectively blending the style’s imagery with its gameplay and mechanics. Players have praised the game’s exceptional world-building, describing it as a delight to explore.
In the game, players venture through the peculiar realm of Vessel, taking on the role of a scientist responsible for rectifying the damage caused by his liquid automatons. The task involves repairing various machinery components, incorporating the quintessential cogs and gears associated with steampunk aesthetics. The puzzles strike a perfect balance between being challenging and manageable, and the charming visuals carry an indie charm.
The indie puzzler SpaceChem posed a significant challenge even to experienced puzzle gamers. Many consider it a complete package with its escalating difficulty, custom puzzles, and user-friendly yet visually appealing interface.
SpaceChem focuses solely on its puzzle mechanics, foregoing a story to provide one of the most mentally stimulating experiences in the genre. Players take control of robots tasked with manipulating cells to create chemical compounds needed to progress through the levels. While not suited for beginners, SpaceChem’s challenging gameplay is an attractive feature rather than a deterrent.
7. Ctrl Alt Ego
Ctrl Alt Ego also made it to our best hacking games list, although it leans more towards being a puzzle game than a hacking game. In truth, it’s not a straightforward puzzle game either. Players assume the role of a disembodied AI presence, capable of flitting between different machines, such as cameras and robots.
The main objective is to navigate through 3D levels from one end to the next, but numerous obstacles stand in the way. These include physical barriers, enemy robots detecting unauthorized movement, and powerful daddy units capable of dissolving matter. However, players can hack into these obstacles to reposition and dissolve them. Lateral thinking is crucial in this game; if you fail, you can return to being disembodied and try again.
Some puzzle-centric games infuse action elements to maintain player engagement throughout the storyline. The Trine video game series has been described as a delightful example of this type of gaming franchise, praising its puzzle platformer nature with multiple ways to reach the end of each area.
The game is set in a fantasy realm, and players control three characters who solve puzzles and engage in battles to advance from one stage to another. While the sequels introduced multiplayer, Trine also remains enjoyable for solo play. The puzzles are not overly challenging, but the blend of platforming and action ensures a balanced representation of each gameplay element.
5. The Talos Principle
The Talos Principle combines elements of ancient civilizations with advanced technology. As you explore the ruins, you encounter high-tech obstacles like forcefields, floating robotic explosives, and mounted gatling guns. To progress through the puzzles, you can use Jammers on tripods to stall these hazards, requiring precise timing and logical thinking to determine the best course of action.
As the game advances, you’ll use light-splitting crystals to charge up doors in complex patterns around the ruins and place weighted cubes on pressure pads. The main objective is to collect tetrominoes, which act as keys to unlock doors leading to the next area.
While the puzzles are engaging, what truly leaves an impression on players is the thought-provoking story. The plot revolves around themes of free will and personhood, with the voice of Elohim claiming to be your creator. As you progress, you encounter clues urging you to defy or obey Elohim, adding a sense of intrigue and suspense to the narrative. The game offers multiple endings based on your choices, and Croteam has confirmed that they are working on a sequel, ensuring that the story will continue to evolve.
4. The Witness
If you enjoy great open-world experiences and exploring beautiful environments while solving puzzles and uncovering your own story, The Witness is the perfect game for you. You wake up on a mysterious island with no memory of your past, surrounded by enigmatic puzzles.
The game’s significant strength lies in its expansive nature and complexity. With well over 500 challenging puzzles, The Witness offers a learning curve in solving its mysteries. However, the sense of accomplishment after successfully navigating through a challenging puzzle makes the experience highly rewarding.
Machinarium, a Point & Click puzzle game from 2009, remains as one of the best puzzle games and is still challenging even to this day. A simple Google search will reveal its beloved status among players, and if you encounter difficulties, numerous online resources are available to provide assistance.
The game’s narrative revolves around Josef, a little robot determined to rescue his girlfriend from the malevolent organization known as the Black Cap Brotherhood. Throughout your adventure in a metallic city with a stunning art style, you’ll encounter other robots as you navigate through a world filled with rust, dust, and grime.
2. Return of the Obra Dinn
In “Return of the Obra Dinn,” a mysterious tall ship called the Obra Dinn resurfaces after disappearing, and all its crew members are found dead. You play as a magical insurance auditor equipped with a watch that reveals the moment of a person’s death. The game’s monochromatic style resembles early video games, allowing you to freely explore the scenes of death and chain together multiple deaths to create dioramas.
The challenge lies in matching each body to the ship’s manifest and determining the cause of death, such as identifying the captain’s shooter. The correctness of your choices is only confirmed once you’ve accurately solved three cases simultaneously. The game skillfully presents suspicious death options like crushing and dismemberment as you piece together the entire story out of order. The experience shifts gears when you open the cabin door and step onto the deck, leading to a captivating narrative accompanied by screams, wood rending, and an impressive soundtrack featuring bells.
Portal remains one of the best games since its release, and its brilliance continues. The game features excellent environmental storytelling, an iconic antagonist in the form of GLaDOS, and brilliant puzzles. You assume the role of a voiceless protagonist who wakes up in Aperture Science’s testing facility after volunteering to be a test subject and entering cryo-sleep. A cheerful AI awakens you, and you are tasked with solving physics-based puzzles using a portal gun.
The legendary GLaDOS becomes increasingly personal as she tests you, transitioning from passive-aggressive to homicidal at a rapid pace. As you progress through the testing facility, you start to uncover the truth behind the pristine walls. Portal cleverly teaches you the game’s rules, physics, and portal mechanics, pushing your thinking in entirely new directions by the end of the game. It has earned its status as a classic for good reason.
Best Puzzle Games on Consoles
When it comes to the best puzzle games on consoles, there will obviously be some overlap with the games on the PC platform since many games are now multi-platform releases. However, since there are so many great puzzle games out there, we tried to feature as many of them as we could, especially those that can be played on consoles and PCs. Without further ado, here are the best puzzle games on consoles.
10. Escape Academy
Escape Academy offers an excellent experience for escape room enthusiasts. As a participant in the Escape Academy, you embark on a journey to become the ultimate escapist. Along the way, you will interact with fellow students, solving numerous puzzles to achieve a high grade.
The game features various themed rooms to escape from, allowing the option to tackle challenges alone or with a friend. If you enjoy real-life escape rooms, this game is a must-try, as it tests your creative thinking skills.
9. We Were Here Series Bundle
The We Were Here Series Bundle consolidates all four games into one extensive collection. These cooperative puzzle games offer an incredible experience that you must try with your friend. Each game follows the journey of a duo lost in a frozen wasteland, where they get separated and rely on walkie-talkies to communicate while navigating through perplexing structures.
The series presents a plethora of creative puzzles that require collaboration with your friend. Each puzzle is interconnected with what your partner can see, requiring you to guide them through mazes or provide instructions on symbol selection to crack codes. Some challenges are even timed, heightening the sense of urgency throughout the gameplay. The We Were Here Series creates an exceptional bonding experience for two players.
8. Unbound: Worlds Apart
Unbound: Worlds Apart presents a distinctive puzzle-platformer game design, where portals connect various worlds, each possessing its distinct attributes. The visually striking worlds, portrayed through hand-drawn art, offer intricate gameplay mechanics and an engaging, enigmatic storyline.
As Soli, a skilled mage with the ability to open portals between worlds, you can manipulate each realm’s properties. This manipulation includes time control and inverse gravity, enabling you to solve puzzles and advance in the game. Moreover, the portals influence other aspects of the game, such as altering enemy difficulty or shaping the terrain, creating an immersive mental challenge that will undoubtedly put your skills to the test.
7. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Nintendo has delivered one of the most comprehensive and exceptional puzzle games for the Nintendo Switch through the enhanced version of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, originally released on the Wii U. Instead of merely porting the original, Nintendo went above and beyond by introducing a wealth of fresh content to the re-release. This includes the addition of brand-new levels for players to conquer and the option to enjoy the entire game in cooperative mode with a friend.
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker’s puzzles revolve around perspective. Unlike traditional Super Mario platforming challenges, players engage in level rotation, altering their appearance to unveil new pathways, hidden treasures, and more. The inclusion of cooperative play throughout the entire game elevates the experience, making it a must-play title for puzzle enthusiasts on the Nintendo Switch.
6. Tetris 99
Tetris, the world’s most renowned puzzle video game, maintains a strong presence on the Nintendo Switch, available on various consoles. In addition to Puyo Puyo Tetris, Tetris 99 is also accessible through the Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Functioning as a Tetris battle royale, Tetris 99 engages players in battles against 99 opponents, aiming to clear lines swiftly while sending obstructions to disrupt others. The game remains supported with regular special events, ensuring long-term engagement and enjoyment for fans.
Apart from the mentioned titles, there are numerous other high-quality puzzle games for Nintendo Switch owners. Nintendo’s own Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido and Toki Tori are among them. Mario’s Super Picross fans may find similar features in Picross S games available on the Nintendo eShop, including co-op support.
5. The Turing Test
Square Enix developed The Turing Test, a first-person puzzle-solving game. In this game, players assume the role of Ava Turing, an International Space Agent stationed on Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. While working as part of a research team, Ava suddenly awakens from cryogenic sleep to find her teammates in danger due to a power system malfunction.
To rescue her colleagues, Ava must tackle various tests involving redirecting energy to unlock doors and operate machinery. As the story unfolds, additional elements and objectives are introduced to the puzzles. The game garnered predominantly positive reviews from critics.
Developers describe Hoa as ‘a painting that lives,’ presenting a puzzle-platformer with stunning hand-painted art landscapes. The game aims to provide a soothing experience, boasting a tranquil atmosphere and an original live-recorded soundtrack.
Hoa utilizes subtle storytelling and exploration-based puzzles to create a gentle yet captivating gameplay flow. Players are encouraged to follow their curiosity and explore the game’s intricacies, from encountering various magical creatures to uncovering the stories of other characters.
3. Unravel 2
Solving puzzles can be both challenging and enjoyable, especially when tackled with a friend. Unravel 2 takes the successful elements from its predecessor and adds a new character, allowing two players to navigate the world cooperatively.
Playing in cooperative mode provides a relaxing and enjoyable experience as you and your friend work together to overcome obstacles. Controlling two Yarnys connected by a single thread adds a beautiful element to the gameplay.
Inside showcased Playdead’s continued excellence in the 2D puzzle-platformer genre, proving that their initial success was no coincidence. The follow-up game received an equally warm reception, if not more so. The storyline revolves around a boy trapped in a frightening world, and it is captivating enough to engage players in the boy’s life fully.
Inside succeeds on many levels, making it a game worthy of your time and attention. Once you immerse yourself in the narrative, you won’t be able to escape until you’ve invested in the boy’s journey.
1. It Takes Two
It Takes Two has earned numerous awards for its innovative gameplay. The highly-praised platformer is exclusively designed for two players, putting their collaborative skills to the test. And despite its strong platformer elements, it’s genuinely one of the best puzzle games you can play on consoles, if not the best.
As players progress through each level, they encounter fresh opportunities for the two characters to engage with one another. The game offers diverse interactions from bobsleighing through a magical snow globe to DJing at a nightclub. The captivating story revolves around Cody and May, a playable couple who have been transformed into dolls by a mysterious spell.