A good puzzle is one of the best things in life. Some are relaxing time killers while others test our skills in solving critical problems or doing quick mental gymnastics; both can be incredibly satisfying. Video games can take these head-scratching problems to new heights and complexities by immersing you in an environment, engaging with concepts like tenants of time and space, or simply giving you endless access to your favorite brain teasers. Here are some of our most popular modern puzzle games listed in no particular orderYou can play now that will knot your brain comfortably.
Tetris Effect – Connected
Let’s be honest Tetris is already being talked about as one of the greatest games of all time. Fortunately, we were recently honored with a great contribution to the series with Tetris Effect: Connected. This interpretation of the concept comes from the mind of Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the man behind games like Rez and Lumines, who shapes the Tetromino-Drop gameplay into a complete sensory experience. Each stage has its own visual and acoustic theme that changes as you play. The music will swell as the scenery pulsates and flipping your Tetris pieces becomes a new note in the symphony of sounds. It’s a very unique puzzle experience, and what’s even better, Tetris Effect is one hell of a good version of Tetris. Compete against others in the new Connected expansion or experience Effect in a transcendent way in VR on PlayStation 4 or PC. | Our rating
Capybara’s climber hack and slash puzzler was a standout feature of the Apple Arcade launch in 2019. As a beefy berserk named Jorj, each level of Grindstone takes you your path of destruction through colorful and sometimes dangerous creatures known as creeps to escape the level. Jorj can only cut through subsequent creeps of the same color unless he crosses paths with a grindstone. If you pick one up along the way, Jorj can change the type of creep you want and build even longer and more devastating combos. Along the 200+ levels of summit danger, blueprints and equipment can be collected and crafted to survive the treacherous climb to the summit. While it debuted on Apple devices, Grindstone can now also be found on the Switch and PC.
You are baba
One of the most unique games in years, Baba Is You takes a seemingly simple premise of changing the properties of objects in the world and uses that to solve mind-altering puzzles. The rules of the game are physically present in each level. Scattered blocks like “baba” or “tree” or “wall” refer to actual parts of the stage. They can be pushed around and connected with verb blocks like “is” to create new realities. “You” represents what the player can control and move about on the field, with the goal of each level being to achieve what “you” is right now in order to reach a checkered flag. You can be lava. You can be a wall. They can be the target flag itself, and each of these objects can be different. Come with your metaphysical galaxy brain ready to solve some of these complex puzzles, and get ready to be excited as you come up with totally ready-made solutions. Baba is fun. Baba is tough. But most importantly, Baba Is You will scratch that puzzle itch like no other. | Our rating
Captain Toad: Treasure hunter
Captain Toad: Treasure Trackers breaks out of the bonus scenarios of Super Mario 3D World and builds these fun puzzle levels around an entire game. As the adventurous Captain Toad, you explore diorama-like areas in search of valuable power stars. The catch? Each cleverly built level is designed to be completed without the ability to jump. You have to navigate through these adorable mazes and solve environmental puzzles with the help of levers, duplicated fruits, moving platforms and a good old-fashioned camera perspective. Captain Toad offers experiences that range from cool brain teasers to precise paths through a stage, but usually you can make things at your own pace. It’s a charming, refreshing take on popular locals and ideas from the Mario franchise and one of the great puzzlers currently available to play on Switch. | Our rating
Nonograms, the puzzle featured in the long history of Picross games by developer Jupiter Corporation, are like picture crosswords. You will be presented with a grid of numbers, aligned with each column and row, indicating how many fields in that section should be filled in by the player. However, it’s not all about painting by numbers. In order to properly solve the puzzle, you need to consider all of the information surrounding the board to determine which fields are filled in and which are left blank. Finally, a complete image is revealed, like a pixelated painting that the player helped to produce. Picross puzzles are exhilarating, relaxing, and incredibly fun to solve. The newest addition to Jupiter’s Switch series is Picross S6, which has excellent tutorials for beginners in this type of puzzle, as well as huge 40×30 grid boards for the Picross veterans. With almost 500 puzzles to solve, Picross S6 will keep many busy for a while.
Pictures are not always what they seem and in Gorogoa you have the option to move and manipulate a series of pictures to find the real meaning in the pictures. Each puzzle presents the player with up to four photos that must be placed in a specific orientation in order to be solved. You can take each segment and manipulate it in different ways, e.g. Adjusting these photos can completely change the perspective of the viewing so that the seemingly different images fit together perfectly. Gorogoa is a real delight with its spectacular art. The experience is at the shorter end. So if you want to relax on a weekend afternoon, Gorogoa is a fantastic way to pass your time. | Our rating
Jonathan Blow’s open world puzzle adventure The Witness is a master class in design. If you start on an island with no context, where or when you are, there is only one way to interact with the world: draw lines or paths on specific boards scattered around the area. Each set of these screens found on the island adds new rules on how to draw your route from point A to B in order to solve the puzzle. These rules are learned through intuition or trial and error, but as you progress through The Witness, puzzle elements and clues for drawing the correct paths on blackboards may be inspired by your surroundings. Hence, it is important to keep your eyes and especially your mind open to unravel some of the island’s more important and exciting mysteries. We leave it at that as The Witness is best if you start with the bare minimum of knowledge and let the experience build until you realize what is actually possible. | Our rating
The Turing test
Originally released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in 2016, with a Switch version in 2020, The Turing Test puts you in the shoes of Ava Turing. In a lab, Ava has to run a series of tests that only humans can solve. These test chambers are designed by an artificial intelligence called TOM, which watches Ava’s progress as she experiments. Equipped with an energy manipulation tool, you can drag energy nodes out of objects to distribute them to other devices in order to solve the puzzle at hand. However, sometimes the simplest answer is not the right one. TOM’s machines require you to think outside the box and “cheat” the tests in a variety of ways. For example, you may find yourself in a maze but choose to jump over the walls instead of holding onto the maze floor. The winding rooms of the Turing Tests will likely keep you busy for some time, while also providing a worthwhile story between Ava and TOM | Our rating
The room: old sins
Partly a virtual puzzle box, partly a creepy escape room, The Room series has been providing satisfying brain teasers for years. The latest version called Old Sins can be found on iOS, Android, and PC. Old Sins lets you explore a disturbing doll’s house, where each room holds multiple puzzles and secrets to unravel. Objects can be found and examined and provide clues for solving a riddle. Important objects made from a substance called zero, which is said to have the power to distort reality, can also be used for advancement. Puzzle solutions aren’t limited to just one area as some more important problems require you to explore the whole house to solve. The Room: Old Sins’ greatest strengths lie in its atmosphere and details. Every object you interact with feels old and artful, but at the same time advanced and complicated. There is almost an eerie quality in the air that increases the urgency to solve every puzzle and learn all of the dolls house’s secrets. | Our rating
A decade after its release, portals are still as fun to play as they have ever been. Portal 2 takes everything that was great about the short, first-person puzzle game from Valve’s Orange Box and essentially builds on it. Portal’s fundamentals are based on the portal cannon, which allows the user to project two portals onto surfaces such as walls, floors and ceilings so that you can walk from one to the other as if they were simple doors. After the events of Portal, serial hero Chell has to escape an Aperture Science facility again while she learns of the company’s sometimes hilarious but always intriguing history from founder Cave Johnson.
There are all kinds of new versions of portal rifle gameplay that mess with gravity, inertia, goofy sentient turret aiming systems, and a lot more. Goopy fluids called gels can be used to paint the test devices, with any color of the substance allowing Chell to hop, move faster, or place portals on surfaces that are not normally designed to hold them up . Portal 2 also features an entirely separate cooperative campaign in which two players take on the roles of robots called ATLAS and P-body. Co-op requires just as much creative problem solving, timing, and coordination as the single player levels, but it requires both players to do so. Would you like to start “thinking with portals”? The best way to experience this classic puzzle on modern hardware is on Xbox Series X / S and Xbox One X via backward compatibility or the always reliable PC version. | Our rating
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