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Gaming 101:
Puzzle Games
 

In this series, we are learning how different aspects of video games work by playing games that offer an easy introduction to this one concept. This is designed for people new to gaming and aims to identify games with the least barriers. In this entry, we are looking at Puzzle games.

Puzzle video games are a broad genre, as there is something puzzling, or something to solve in most games. The games we specify here focus on a puzzle or conundrum as the main interactive mechanic. They test many problem-solving skills, logic, pattern recognition, sequence solving, spatial recognition, and word completion.

Some puzzle games will focus on a traditional, self-contained, puzzle board with pieces to move. Other video games take this in more conceptual directions, offering puzzles that involve Action, Platforming, Shooting or even Role-Play relationships with other characters.

In this way, the puzzle can be used to communicate frustration, difficulty or tension as well as offer a sense of control, understanding and ease in or Adventure games. Most Puzzle video games are, by their nature, Turn Based but they can also be integrated into more pressured and time-limited Action game experiences.
 
This list includes 63 games from the last 33 years, with 1,387 likes. They come from a range of different genres and play-styles and are all good games if you want to play your first puzzle game.

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Unpacking

Release Date: 02/11/2021

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Blocks, Hand-Made and Pixels

Unpacking is a meditative puzzle game where you unpack belongings into a series of spaces, each representing a stage in life. You get to know the owner of the objects by their possessions and circumstances. To finish a level you need to work out where...

Wilmot's Warehouse

Release Date: 29/08/2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Wilmot's Warehouse is a game for people who like to organise things. You are in charge of a warehouse and must manage 100s of items of stock. Identical square boxes are labelled with rudimentary icons. On your own or with another player, you must...

Wordle

Release Date: 20/12/2021

Out Now: Web

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Text

Wordle is a daily puzzle game where you (and anyone else playing that day) try and guess the secret word. You get six guesses that must be real words. Each letter is then coloured to provide clues: green for the right letter in the right place, yellow...

Ibb and Obb

Release Date: 01/08/2013, updated in 2020

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS3 and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Ibb and Obb is a puzzle game where you run, jump, land on enemies and solve momentum puzzles. The novelty is that it's a game designed for cooperation. One player controls the green creature, Ibb, and the other controls the pink creature, Obb. The world...

Spyder

Release Date: 21/03/2020, updated in 2021

Out Now: Apple TV, Mac and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Spyder is a puzzle adventure where you play as Agent 8, a small 6-legged spider-robot that was designed by a British spy agency for attempting to stop an evil organization. You explore the world and can use your sticky legs to walk over any surface or...

Labyrinth City

Release Date: 22/06/2021, updated in 2021

Out Now: PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Cartoon

Labyrinth City: Pierre the Maze Detective is a traversal maze game where you guide Pierre from the bestselling children's books Pierre The Maze Detective to find a route through the city and recover the stolen Maze Stone. Play involves exploring the...

Baba is You

Release Date: 13/03/2019

Out Now: Mac, PC and Switch

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Baba is You requires some lateral thinking. Each level is controlled by rules written on the screen, such as ‘Lava is Hot’, ‘Wall is Stop’ and ‘Flag is Move’. By moving the words around with your pixelated character, you subvert the...

JellyCar Worlds

Release Date: 10/12/2022

Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

JellyCar Worlds is a puzzle game about a car made of jelly traversing a squishy world. You use the physics properties of the car and the objects in the world to get from A to B. It's an action puzzle game that stands out for the joyous novelty of a...

Untitled Goose Game

Release Date: 03/10/2019

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Untitled Goose game is a tongue-in-cheek puzzle game where you play a dastardly goose intent on ruining the day of the inhabitants of a sleepy English village. Play involves working out the right order of interactions and distractions to let you steal...

Donut County

Release Date: 15/08/2018, updated in 2018

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person and Cartoon

Donut County offers a simple style of play. You drag a hole around the screen; the more things you can make fall in, the bigger the hole gets. You start with bricks, road cones and bushes, but eventually you’re swallowing whole houses.

Return of the Obra Dinn

Release Date: 18/10/2019

Out Now: PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 13+ year-olds

Components: 3D First-Person and Pixels

Return of the Obra Dinn is a narrative puzzle game where you play a shipping company agent assessing what happened on board a fictional East India Company ship where all the passengers have mysteriously died. Exploring the ship, you can revisit the...

Old Man's Journey

Release Date: 17/05/2017

Out Now: Android, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Old Man's Journey is a game about memory and old age. You help a grandfather figure traverse the countryside by raising and lowering the landscape. Along the way, he visits places that evoke the story of his life: a wife, a child and a love of the sea.

Device 6

Release Date: 17/10/2013

Out Now: iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: Text

Device 6 is a narrative puzzle where you piece together a mystery through unusual interactions with your device. As the story unfolds, you rotate your screen, hold it up to a mirror to read backwards text, and generally search for clues in unusual ways...

Carto

Release Date: 27/10/2020

Out Now: PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 9+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Hand-Made

Carto is an adventure puzzle game that is unusual in letting you rearrange the map tiles while you are playing. This enables you to access new areas of the world previously impossible to get to. This can be as simple as redirecting a river out of your...

Assemble With Care

Release Date: 19/11/2019

Out Now: Apple TV, Mac, PC and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Assemble With Care is a narrative puzzle game from the makers of Monument Valley and is a unique way to consider how physical objects become meaningful and hold our memories. You play a restorer who repairs people's favourite possessions: from family...

A Little To The Left

Release Date: 01/08/2022, updated in 2022

Out Now: Mac, PC, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox X|S

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Hand-Made

A Little To The Left is a puzzle game where you tidy a house into meticulous order. Each puzzle presents everyday objects and some evidence of how they should be organised. The challenge is you have to deal with a mischievous cat who likes to make a mess.

Empty

Release Date: 25/09/2020

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Web and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Hand-Made

Empty is a minimalist puzzle game that teaches the value of simplicity in life. You rotate and interact with different vignettes to line up items with the same background colour. As you do this they disappear and the scene slowly empties.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Release Date: 13/10/2016

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a brain-communication game where you’re confronted with a bomb on the screen that has to be defused, requiring a series of modules to be disarmed. The bomb defuser player can see and operate the bomb but the other...

Snipperclips

Release Date: 03/03/2017

Out Now: Switch

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

Snipperclips is a game where you play a piece of paper that can be cut into different shapes. Through a series of puzzle levels, you adjust your shape by clipping and overlapping other players. Sometimes this is to match a shape, others, it is to catch...

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas

Release Date: 14/11/2013, updated in 2017

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS4, Switch, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas (simply called Oceanhorn on iOS and Android) is an adventure game that brings Zelda-style exploration, battling and dungeon-solving to...

Puzzle Quest (Series)

Release Date: 16/03/2007, updated in 2019

Out Now: DS, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSP, Switch, Wii, Xbox One and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

Puzzle Quest 3 is the latest in a series of games that combine role-playing with tile-matching puzzles. Set in a fantasy world, you move around the map, encountering monsters and other enemies. When you go the battle are played out as tile puzzles where...

A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build

Release Date: 01/12/2018

Out Now: Android, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 6+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Grid and Hand-Made

A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build is a puzzle game about being a monster and making snowmen. On each level, you must roll your snowballs to be the right size and then position them on each other to make a snowman.

Photographs - Puzzle Stories

Release Date: 03/04/2019

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC and iOS

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Photographs - Puzzle Stories is a narrative puzzle game where you witness the lives and memories of five different characters. You investigate old photos for memories that advance the story and solve simple puzzles that reflect their lives. It stands...

Railbound

Release Date: 06/09/2022, updated in 2022

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Railbound is a track-bending puzzle game where you lay track, switch points, and use tunnels to get the carriages to the engine in the right order. Although it's the puzzles that keep you playing, there's also a real joy in connecting tracks and seeing...

The Past Within

Release Date: 02/11/2022, updated in 2022

Out Now: Android, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 12+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On

The Past Within is a co-operative puzzle game where you solve a mystery by communicating with the past. You play the game with another person, either in the same room or elsewhere, by communicating what your different times and perspectives reveal.

All Of You

Release Date: 06/10/2020

Out Now: Mac and iOS

Components: 2D Side-On and Hand-Made

All of You is a platform game where you can pause time and control the levels rather than the character. By rearranging the timing, order and orientation of the world you play in you can help the mother hen get her chicks back.

Six Cats Under

Release Date: 10/07/2020

Out Now: PC and Web

Skill Rating: 11+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Six Cats Under is a cute point-and-click puzzle where you are a deceased cat-lady trying to rescue your herd of cats by directing them with your poltergeist powers. The challenge is that you can only move very small things, so have to get the cats...

Please, Touch The Artwork

Release Date: 26/01/2022

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Grid

Please, Touch The Artwork is a puzzle game that tells a story with real abstract paintings. Unconventionally it asks, what would happen if we did touch the artwork in museums? The answer is revealed over three stories each focusing on a different...

Splitter Critters

Release Date: 15/05/2018, updated in 2021

Out Now: Android, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Splitter Critters is a puzzle game where you cut up the world to connect platforms and get to the exit. You split and rearrange each level so you can avoid deadly lasers and create floating swimming pools to guide alien critters back to their spaceship.

Otteretto

Release Date: 28/01/2022

Out Now: Mac, PC and Web

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Grid

Otteretto is a puzzle game where you match blocks to make palindromes. Rather than the usual match-three format, instead you have to find patterns that mirror in the middle, like a palindrome but with colours/shapes rather than letters.

The Last Cube

Release Date: 10/03/2022

Out Now: Mac, PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Blocks and Grid

The Last Cube is a puzzle platform game where you guide a cube through a series of 3D mazes to save the world from destruction. Because you have to get the right side of the cube on the right square to trigger abilities and progress, it creates a...

Freshly Frosted

Release Date: 10/06/2022

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Freshly Frosted is a donut topping puzzle. You must place topping machines and conveyor belts in the right order to create the right donuts. It takes the common conveyor puzzle challenge and adds not only a lovely theme but some intricate scenarios for...

Mario vs. Donkey Kong (Series)

Release Date: 24/05/2004, updated in 2024

Out Now: 3DS and 2DS, DS and Wii U

Skill Rating: 5+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a series of puzzle games where you guide miniature Nintendo characters to the end of the level. The twist is that you must manipulate the level by adding and removing platforms to reach the goal. The exact interactions vary from...

RocketPuzzle

Release Date: Coming soon

Coming Soon: Android and iOS

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

RocketPuzzle is a tile-based puzzle set in space. You push and hold blocks so their attached rockets can fire them into the matching coloured space stations. It's a small but tricky game with a retro aesthetic.

Lemmings (Series)

Release Date: 14/02/1991, updated in 2018

Out Now: Android, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS2, PS3, PSP and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Pixels

Lemmings is a series of puzzle games where you guide small (suicidal) creatures to the end of the levels. Unusually, you don't control when or how a character jumps and navigates the areas, but instead, you assign them actions that change the level to...

Altered

Release Date: 12/03/2021

Out Now: Mac and PC

Components: 2D Overhead and Grid

Altered is a demanding-yet-meditative puzzle game where must get your character to the end of the level. It's unique because to get there, you change your physical characteristics (extending, elongating, splitting into two, or attaching yourself to...

Boo!

Release Date: 23/10/2017

Out Now: Android, Web and iOS

Skill Rating: 4+ year-olds

Components: 2D Side-On and Cartoon

Boo! is a Halloween-themed puzzle game where you decorate pumpkins using cauldrons of coloured paint. The twist is that to create each design, you need to cover up different parts of the pumpkin using an assortment of items. The challenge is to apply...

Land Above Sea Below

Release Date: 13/09/2023

Out Now: PC

Skill Rating: 10+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead and Blocks

Land Above Sea Below is a calm landscape-building puzzle game where you raise an island out of the sea to keep the flora and fauna above water. You work to increase your island’s area and height by placing tiles one after one.

Rob Riches

Release Date: 17/11/2021, updated in 2023

Out Now: Android, PC, Switch and iOS

Skill Rating: 7+ year-olds

Components: 3D Third-Person, Blocks, Cartoon and Grid

Rob Riches is a puzzle game about a treasure hunter in search of precious artefacts. You carefully navigate a safe path through the small stages, pushing blocks, avoiding pitfalls, and collecting the coins to advance to the next stage. Like [link to...

Sizeable

Release Date: 19/03/2021

Out Now: Mac and PC

Skill Rating: 8+ year-olds

Components: 2D Overhead, Blocks and Weather

Sizeable is a puzzle game about manipulated objects in a series of beautiful tiny dioramas. You rotate to explore and pick up, move and resize objects. To complete a level you need to find all the hidden monoliths. It's a casual puzzle game that uses...

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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