I love puzzle games! I was surprised to see that the forums didn't have a dedicated puzzle thread, so... now we do!
What's a puzzle game?
Many modern games include puzzle elements, but for the purposes of this thread, it's any game where solving puzzles is the main focus of the gameplay.
I have not included management games (which tend to require a more open, sandbox-y, plate-spinning approach, rather than trying to reach a pre-determined solution), nor tactics games (even if I think Into The Breach is, honestly, more of a puzzle game than a tactical combat sim).
I'd prefer the thread not devolve into arguments over what is/isn't a puzzle game. I am absolutely sure some goons will disagree with where I set the bar, and that's fine. If you have a game that you feel counts as a puzzle game, discuss it here, but let's not spend a ton of words trying to justify whether it belongs or not.
Unless otherwise noted, all of these games are available on PC. Many are also available on various consoles.
* Denotes goon picks (for now my favorites, but feel free to recommend any that you love, and I'll mark popular choices)
These games integrate the puzzles directly into the environment, and often have a strong setting or even a complete story to experience.
Portal / Portal 2* - The granddaddy of "getting from one place to another" games. Fun background lore and lots of humor. Portal 2 has a wonderful co-operative mode that is essentially a separate game -- all new puzzles to solve with a friend!
The Talos Principle* - For my money, the best puzzle game of all time. Walk around a ruined world to focus laser beams, open doors, and pick up keys. The beautiful and tragic backstory reveals itself as you proceed through the game, and new mechanics are introduced at exactly the right pace. If you liked Portal, you should love this.
The Witness* - Solve a variety of 2D line puzzles on a beautifully rendered 3D island. Learning each new mechanic is the central theme of the game, leading to many wonderful "aha!" moments. There is a reason I didn't group this in with abstract puzzle games. I can't say why without massive spoilers. Just trust me.
Return of the Obra Dinn* - Use logic and deductive reasoning to discover what happened to the crew of an abandoned ship. It's a less traditional experience than most puzzle games, but the thought processes required to solve the mystery will appeal to puzzle fans, so I think it belongs here. As you unravel the mystery, each piece you figure out is supremely satisfying.
Chuchel - Get that cherry! A hilarious romp with a fuzzy monster through dozens of charming puzzles.
Lightmatter - Dodge shadows and create light to proceed through this straightforward puzzle game. Traversal-based gameplay is similar to Portal or The Talos Principle, but it never reaches the heights of those games.
Filament - Discover the fate of the crew of this (nearly) derelict spaceship by solving puzzles. Great story, but the puzzles -- especially in the late game -- can be ridiculously difficult. It's worth it to see the ending, even if you have to look up a few solutions.
Antichamber - Proceed through this world of non-linear geometry by figuring out its quirks and patterns. May be somewhat nausea-inducing.
The Room (series) - Open complex and beautiful puzzle boxes. There are several games in this series, and they're all excellent. I actually prefer the tablet versions of these games, as the touchscreen can be a bit more satisfying than using the mouse.
Gorogoa - Proceed through a colorful world of artwork by figuring out how to move between the various environments. One of the prettier puzzle games I've ever played.
The Gardens Between - A novel mechanic where shifting your view will advance or rewind time, opening up new paths for the protagonists.
Myst (series) - Honestly? I've never played any of these, despite being of an age where I was heavily into PC gaming when they were first released. My understanding is that you move around an island solving a variety of puzzles.
Superliminal - Another non-linear environment game along the lines of Antichamber. I haven't played this one yet, but I've seen good feedback on it.
Lara Croft GO - While there's a bit of background story, the focus is moving Lara along a path in each fairly abstract level. Also on mobile devices!
Bridge Constructor (Portal) - Build a bridge to cross using limited materials and dubious physics. This may skew closer to an abstract puzzler -- you're building bridges, but there's no real story or background. I haven't played the Portal version yet, but I assume it's more of the same. Fun little distraction.
Sensorium - A short puzzle homage to other popular games like Fez, The Witness, Braid, Antichamber, etc. It was made by one guy and heavily influenced by the other modern puzzle games he has played, but with the aforementioned twist about being "sense" based. (Thanks Superrodan!)
Most puzzle games don't require a lot of quick movement or reflexes, but here are a few that require tight timing or precision actions.
Braid - Super Mario Brothers, except you can also manipulate time. Each world has new time-shifting mechanics to discover.
The Turing Test - Figure out how to proceed through rooms and sneak past turrets. Very reminiscent of Portal, but with slightly better reflexes required.
Limbo / Inside - Two games by the same developer with fairly similar mechanics. Manipulate the environment to get safely to the next area, sometimes requiring some strict timing.
Unravel 1/2 - Another "get from here to there" game that requires the occasional tight platforming, but is generally about figuring out the correct sequence of events to proceed.
Who needs a story? Rotate blocks, place tiles, assemble sausages.
Baba Is You* - Goon-developed! Use the elements of the levels to modify the game's rules as you go. Devilishly clever, and becomes very difficult but very rewarding later on.
Slipways* - Honestly, this is more of an empire-building management game, but planning and connecting the planetary inputs/outputs very much feels like a puzzler. Either way, it's very good, and puzzle fans should enjoy it.
Hexcells / Hexceed - Do you like Minesweeper? Well, this is better Minesweeper. I'd recommend picking up Hexceed for free on Steam, then dropping a few bucks on a huge pack of new levels if you enjoy it.
Stephen's Sausage Roll - Don't let the looks fool you; this abstract game musings well-crafted puzzles that reward thinking several moves ahead.
Tetris / Tetris Effect - It's Tetris. Play more Tetris.
(Note: There are LOTS of Tetris-style games out there, and many are excellent. Lumines, Puyo Puyo, Meteos, Puzzle Fighters, and many more. Feel free to discuss them here, but I'm not going to try to catalog them all in the OP.)
Programming and sequence-based games are different enough that I think they merit their own sub-category. I'd love more of these, but all of the good ones I know were created by Zachtronics.
These are Zachtronics spatial manipulation and sequence-planning games:
- Opus Magnum*
And these three are Zachtronics programming-style games:
- Shenzhen I/O*
They all have their own quirks. If I had to pick one from each category, I'd recommend Opus Magnum and Shenzhen I/O.
Automachef - Automate a restaurant assembly line. The best Zachtronics-style game I've played that isn't by Zachtronics.
I don't feel like this needs to be a comprehensive list of every puzzle game ever made, but if anyone has an amazing puzzle game they'd recommend with no reservations, please post it with a description and I'll add it to the OP. Thanks for stopping by!
WhiteHowler fucked around with this message at 00:16 on Jun 18, 2021
|# ¿ Jun 6, 2021 01:23|
|# ¿ Aug 5, 2021 14:28|
Thanks for the recommendation. I agree that Hexcells/Hexceed feels somewhat rote now -- I rarely have to think too hard about my next move, and I kind of mindless click through a level or two when I'm listening to a podcast and don't want to concentrate on a game.
I really liked Hexcells and its sequels, but there were often chains of boring/easy steps you have to click through. I found that to be the case even more so with Hexceed (though I'm not too far into it). A game in the same sort of style that doesn't have that problem and has tons of pretty and expertly hand-crafted levels is Tametsi.
Oops, of course you're right. Fixed. I prefer the programming-centric Zachtronics games, so I didn't spent much time with Opus Magnum. I usually get about halfway into his spatial-based games and get frustrated and stop.
[FYI It's "Opus Magnum", not Magnum Opus.
I haven't played it -- for whatever reason I assumed it was more of a management game along the lines of Satisfactory or Factorio. But if it's more puzzle-y, I can add it to the list in the OP.
I would add "Infinifactory" under spatial - that would complete the list of commercial ones from Zachtronics. (His free ones are good too!)
Thanks, both of those are new to me, and I will check them out.
As far as ones from other people, I really liked Silicon Zeroes (programming style, by goon PleasingFungus). It is about placing and connecting simple hardware blocks to build more complex hardware blocks, more than writing code ala Shenzen IO, but it still feels closer to programming style.
Just judging the games on their merits, I can recommend them as two of the best puzzle games ever made. I won't fault anyone for not wanting to give the dude money. The stuff I've seen from him seems more stupid than problematic, but I avoid Twitter in general, and going down those rabbit holes tend to just make me upset and sad.
I love Braid and the Witness for their influences on game design and aesthetic, but I can't recommend them anymore given the drivel that's subsequently poured from Blow's mouth.
I liked Sausage Roll and put it in the OP, but I really couldn't get into English Country Tune at all. Something about the mechanics didn't click for me.
Instead I can strongly recommend Stephen's Sausage Roll and English Country Tune, both by Stephen Lavelle. The former's just brutal, the latter's a great mind-bender.
Sure! So, like, Sea of Thieves but with puzzles?
Is this where I post about Puzzle Pirates? A game where you can take the fugue state of basic puzzling affected some abstract pirate layer of sea pillaging and throwing out the bilge water. You can become a puzzle peice in someone else's larger strategic layer of puzzle.
I haven't played it, but thought this was a puzzle-platformer with more of an emphasis on the "platformer" part. I know it's super critically acclaimed. I think I have a Steam code from an old Humble Bundle, so I'll give it a try.
The Swapper - "The Swapper takes place in an isolated and atmospheric sci-fi world. Players wield an experimental device which allows them to create clones of themselves, swapping their entire consciousness into new bodies to overcome the challenges of the environment."
Updated the OP. I didn't like Hitman GO nearly as much as Lara Croft GO, but they're both worth checking out.
|# ¿ Jun 6, 2021 15:26|
I feel ignored.
Sorry, I read those too! I'll check them out and put them on the list of things to consider adding to the OP.
|# ¿ Jun 6, 2021 15:50|
I'm loving Slipways a lot, but I'm not very good at picking out when and where to lab up yet. I probably scout too much too, especially in the beginning, but ending up with an unsatisfied planet at the turn of the year Feels Bad, Man
I picked up Slipways yesterday and see a ton of potential, but jeeze am I bad at it.
The lab/tech element is kind of confusing, so I just sort of aimlessly plop down labs when I have some extra resources of the same type in an area, and research whatever might be useful (it usually isn't).
I know the game is new, so I'm hoping to see some write-ups on how to not be terrible.
|# ¿ Jun 7, 2021 16:35|
Thank you for contributing! I will check these out. You're all giving me a hell of a queue to work through.
ALRIGHT. Here's the thread for me. I have been playing a TON of puzzle games and I love 'em and love to talk about them.
Sensorium has some great buzz both here and elsewhere, so I'll add it to the OP.
I think generally if a game gets two or three good endorsements here, I'll throw it in the OP, as long as people don't start trying to "game" the process. Eventually I'll probably swap some of the less-loved games out to keep it readable.
|# ¿ Jun 7, 2021 21:11|
Would Return of the Obra Dinn be considered a puzzle game? I suppose in a way it's like a version of those logic puzzles where Rebecca has a blue house but her neighbour only wears red t-shirts.
Absolutely. The core gameplay is a giant puzzle based on direct observation, and inductive and deductive reasoning, with one correct solution.
Anyone who enjoys logic puzzles will probably enjoy Obra Dinn. It's one of my favorite games in recent memory.
|# ¿ Jun 7, 2021 23:05|
oh poo poo, I just realised that in Slipways asteroids do not give you passive income, you consume them for a one time payout
I've played six games of Slipways now, and I have never, ever even come close to running out of money. Which means I'm almost certainly doing something wrong. I finished my third regular game with three stars, and beat the first Campaign scenario.
Also, I noticed that completing the first tier of tasks for a council race rewards you with something like "X race items added to events". I have no idea what that means. What events?
|# ¿ Jun 8, 2021 14:50|
Yeah and the more settled planets you have nearby the more you'll get from them so it makes sense to wait until you're fully settled around them.
I've been playing Slipways obsessively for the past few days. I'm still not great at it, but here are some tips that have worked for me:
1. Use the right-click option to plan out your planets before you start colonizing. You'll probably need to change the plan several times to get something that works.
2. Always know where each planet's needs are coming from. If you're going to colonize a planet that can never have its needs met, it should be fulfilling at least TWO needs for nearby planets that have no other way to get their needs met. There are probably some exceptions to this that I haven't figured out yet.
3. Two-way trade routes are amazing. They provide more cash per slipway, meet needs on both ends, and make it much easier to plan out a cluster of planets. There's a council perk that makes them worth even more money. Always two-way when possible.
I'm sure I'm still missing a ton of strategy, but my last run everything started to click. I got to tier 4 research (right at the end) and finished with a happiness of 101%. Still only three stars, but I juuuuust under the four star cutoff, and I already see a bunch of things I could have done better.
I'm loving the game so far.
|# ¿ Jun 8, 2021 16:48|
Can you explain how you get to tier 4 research? Or how you research anything at all?
Build labs using the "structure" button (wrenches at the bottom of the screen). The input to labs is one person and one of (almost) any resource. The more resources you put into the same lab, the more research it will generate.
Research points amass each year. So if I have one lab cranking out three research, after three years I'll have nine research.
You can then spend the points with the middle flask button at the bottom of the screen. As you research more techs, it unlocks higher tiers (and locks lower tiers, so be careful!).
In this particular game I somehow had an excess of people and a few areas with tons of the same resource. By the end I was making 13 research per year, and could have had a few more if I'd prioritized it.
|# ¿ Jun 8, 2021 17:00|
Thanks. When would you say is a good time to build the first lab, after how many settled planets?
I'm still trying to figure that out.
I try to get my first lab pretty early, as soon as I have a populated planet with an extra person with nowhere to go. Getting an early tier 0 tech can be game-changing, depending on what's available.
Later on I get much more discerning and try to find areas with a ton of the same surplus resource that I can link into the same lab.
|# ¿ Jun 8, 2021 17:05|
I still can't get above 3*
Anyone want to make a Slipways thread?
I've gotten 5* my last few games, still playing on the default difficulty. I break each run into three "phases":
1. Get a basic, stable loop set up with 1-2 populated planets and the supporting infrastructure. Build my first lab as early as possible, having it produce at least three bulbs (1 person + 2 of the same resource). This should be done by year 5 at the latest.
2. Build out infrastructure. Focus on adding more labs whenever possible. Concentrate on building a strong core with Successful planets and two-way trades, which will make money a non-factor by the midgame. Also prioritize council tasks; they're a ton of points at the end of the game. This is most of the run, until year 20 or so.
3. Stop most expansion, look for ways to increase happiness and meet needs that were previously unmeetable. Try to connect up any idle Population, or send them for Enlightment / Ascension, depending on which techs you have. Finish up council tasks, and decline taking any more unless you're 100% sure you can meet them.
My last few games have all ended at around 125% happiness, with a Colossal empire size. I haven't gotten a platinum score yet, but the last game came very close.
|# ¿ Jun 9, 2021 14:58|
I didn't realize it was possible to just decline counsel task. This changes everything.
It's only during the last few years of the game. Maybe the last five?
There's also a "postpone" button that's available all the time, but I don't know if this lets you then decline if you keep postponing past year 20. I haven't tried.
Edit: As I play more of it, I realize Slipways is more of a management game than a puzzle game. While the core gameplay of linking up resources with needs is straight-up puzzle-y, there are a ton more moving pieces (money, research, techs, tasks, etc.) than most puzzle games have.
WhiteHowler fucked around with this message at 15:30 on Jun 9, 2021
|# ¿ Jun 9, 2021 15:20|
Yeah I recall getting stuck in like the tenth room in Filament. It is tough. There obviously was some trick I wasn't figuring out but it devolved into repeating the same tactics with the same results over and over again.
I agree. Some of the more complex puzzles are less about figuring out the solution and more about applying the rules in a trial-and-error fashion.
The last area of Filament (the Bridge) is absolutely ridiculous about this. I ended up looking up solutions to a lot of the endgame puzzles, because I wasn't having any fun "solving" them.
The story is really good, and piecing together what happened to the crew is a fun mystery. It's a shame the gameplay gets in the way, especially when the earlier puzzles seem to have so much potential.
|# ¿ Jun 9, 2021 15:34|
Two indie puzzle games I enjoyed that I haven't seen mentioned yet:
Back to Bed - A real-time, "Lemmings"-style puzzler where you have to redirect a sleepwalker around hazards and get him back to bed. Each level loops when you fail, so it's very quick to retry new solutions.
She Remembered Caterpillars - An isometric traversal puzzler. Make bridges and open gates based on colors. The game looks easy at first, but the later levels require you to do some complex color shifting and mixing.
They're both quite good.
|# ¿ Jun 9, 2021 15:56|
More Slipways chat.
I got my first double-platinum on Challenging difficulty today.
I think I might be done, at least until more campaign missions come out.
The game has been a blast to play, but at this point every run is basically the same strategy. The sector layout largely dictates the highest likely score, and while I'm certainly not "perfect" at the game, I can glance at an area and know more or less exactly what to put down.
I still recommend the game to puzzle fans who want a very light management/empire-builder, but it may not have a ton of staying power.
|# ¿ Jun 17, 2021 17:06|
If you like Slipways, another good recommendation is Dorfromantik.
One of my friends just gifted this to me on Steam, so I'm going to give it a try this weekend now that I'm thinking about shelving Slipways for a bit.
Any basic tips on getting started?
|# ¿ Jun 18, 2021 00:17|
It's Steam sale time. Get some puzzles for cheap.
Here are some good deals on goon-recommended games:
Portal / Portal 2: $1.99 each (-80%)
The Talos Principle: $5.99 (-85%)
The Witness: $9.99 (-75%)
Chuchel: $2.99 (-70%)
Filament: $8.99 (-50%)
Antichamber: $4.99 (-75%)
Gorogoa: $4.49 (-70%)
Sensorium: $4.99 (-50%)
Braid: $3.74 (-75%)
The Turing Test: $2.99 (-85%)
The Swapper: $2.24 (-85%)
Back to Bed: $0.59 (-90%)
She Remembered Caterpillars: $2.03 (-83%)
WhiteHowler fucked around with this message at 15:06 on Jun 27, 2021
|# ¿ Jun 27, 2021 00:38|
My wife and I just finished up Tick Tock: A Tale For Two.
It's a two-player, co-op puzzle game with asynchronous, parallel play. Each player sees different things and has to describe what they're seeing and doing to the other player. Most of the solutions to each puzzle will require information from both "sides" of the game.
This is a great one to play over Discord, or in the same room (but on two separate computers -- you're not supposed to see each others' screens). Note that you can't play this solo -- I mean, I guess you could launch it in two windows, but that's... not really what is intended.
It's fairly short; we got stuck on the third chapter for quite a while and still finished in about three hours. But it's on sale for $2.99, and it's a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with a friend.
|# ¿ Jun 27, 2021 00:46|
I fondly remember one game of Galaxy Trucker where my best friend ended the game with one engine tile and one crew compartment and nothing else.
Anything beyond that is just showing off.
|# ¿ Jul 2, 2021 13:24|
|# ¿ Aug 5, 2021 14:28|
The Spectrum Retreat is free on the Epic Game Store right now.
I haven't played it, but it says it's full of puzzles, so... free, right?
|# ¿ Jul 3, 2021 13:30|