The 25 Best Puzzle Games Ever Made

25: Bejeweled 3

Developer: PopCap

Publisher: EA

Yes, Bejeweled 3. It may well feel like one of the most trite examples of the puzzle genre, the sort of game your rubbish uncle likes to play while espousing his views, but nope. It’s actually a really splendid match-3 game.

Because of the scale of its popularity and success, it’s tempting to assume that the original Bejeweled was a clone of a smaller, quieter idea. But while Puzzle de Pon certainly first featured the concept in 1995, it really wasn’t until PopCap’s 2001 release of Bejewled that the match-3 as we now know it was formed. Yes, without Bejeweled we wouldn’t have Candy Crush Saga, and the world would therefore be 3.4% better than it currently is, but it also provided us with far more lovely pleasures like Puzzle Quest (see later), and indeed the best damned match-3 game of all time, ZooKeeper. Good with the bad.

So why Bejeweled 3? It’s because it was the first game in the series to make the mechanical change that had been holding it back: it allowed you to play your next move before the cascading results of the previous turn had finished. This was a huge part of what elevated the DS’s wondrous ZooKeeper to such heights, and any attempt to return to Bejeweleds 1 or 2 then felt stilted, slow and frustrating. In 3, the fast-paced fluidity met the progenitor of the genre, and the result – as much as your gran may play it – is pretty sublime. It’s over-packed with silly gimmicks, but the core game is still there to be relished. Sadly more recent versions have been dragged into the mire of EA’s free-to-play mobile attempts, but for the PC, Bejeweled 3 remains the row of three gems adorning the genre’s crown.

Notes:

Bejeweled has sold an eye-watering 75 million copies, and been downloaded over 150 million times. These numbers can safely be considered “quite big”.

Bejeweled 3 came with a “zen mode”, that was complete woo bullshit. At one point PopCap had even considered attempting to market it as a means to give up smoking.

Where can I buy it:

Steam

What else should I be playing if I like this:

Take a look at Puzzle Quest, further down this list. And definitely check out ZooKeeper, now on iOS and Android.

Read more:

Our review of the game.

24: The Bridge

Developer: Ty Taylor and Mario Castañeda

Publisher: The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild

The Bridge perhaps didn’t scream “SELLING POINTS”. A black and white obscure puzzle game, involving a mind-hurting combination of Escher-like drawings and a rotating camera, with a sad, somnambulistic middle-aged bearded man as its protagonist.

Of course, you’re here because you want to know about puzzle games, which means you’re brilliant, and therefore that description just had your hand unconsciously reach for your wallet. And as well it should. The Bridge’s biggest weakness is that it has too many good ideas, and never spends long enough on one of them. That’s a good complaint to have.

You’ll need to meddle with gravity, negotiate impossible pathways, and most of all, walk in looping circles around the surfaces of the visual illusion levels. It’s certainly too easy at the start, but come the midpoint of the game, it reinvents its original 25 levels, and has you attempt to navigate them in far more complex ways, with some proper stumpers along the journey. And most strange of all, play for an hour or so, then try to do any other task, and its rotating, mind-bending ways cause reality to start to act very strangely for a while. Which is quite the thing.

Notes:

The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild have a new puzzle game coming out some time this year, Tumblestone, which looks like a traditional block-matching puzzle game, but is in fact focused on competitive multiplayer.

Where can I buy it:

Steam

What else should I be playing if I like this:

You could take a look at the free Shift series, and their monochrome puzzling confusion.

Read more:

Our review of The Bridge.

23: The Room

Developer: Fireproof Games

Publisher: Fireproof Games

Gimmicky little “room escape” puzzle games have been something of a plague on mobile, but out of this strange ether appeared something astonishingly slick, smart and well produced. The Room, taking this odd concept a lot less literally than many, features impossible clockwork mechanisms that you must meticulously explore, experimentally clicking here and there to learn their secrets, and gradually progress through its odd story.

Invariably this involves finding secret compartments, seeking out codes, rearranging switches, and so forth, to cause the astonishingly rendered contraptions to slide, swoosh and reconstruct themselves into the next stage. It’s oddly mystical, watching those transformations.

Where it shines the brightest in how it handles complexity. Rather than being difficult, The Room instead opts for involved. You don’t tend to get stuck – you just have lots and lots to do, always feeling like you’re progressing, making smart discoveries, and solving, solving, solving. So while it may not offer the depth of challenge that some seek from puzzle games, it disguises this by how entertainingly busy it keeps you. The story is utter nonsense and doesn’t go anywhere, but it matters little. You’re too busy hunting for tiny switches and revealing vital components.

Notes:

The Room was a remake of the original mobile version, rather than a port. Almost ever asset was recreated from scratch, to create an HD build of the game.

It took over two years to make it to the PC, which means we may hopefully see sequel The Room 2 reach us by 2016.

Where can I buy it:

Steam

What else should I be playing if I like this:

Definitely pick up The Room 2 for your pocket telephone. It’s even better.

Read more:

Our review.

22: Mystery PI Series

Developer: SpinTop Games

Publisher: PopCap

Pretending that hidden object games are in some way inherently bad is very silly. Primarily because they’re often brilliant fun. A cluttered screen, perhaps a library littered with hundreds of objects, and you have to find the ones on a given list. It is, in that sense, an extremely pure puzzle, immediately seeming like something from a child’s puzzle book. But as much as people may sneer and pooh-pooh, sit them down in front of one and you can bet your bum they’ll spend the next twenty minutes furiously trying to find that damned umbrella.

However, there’s no doubt its a much exploited formula, with horrendous volumes of shovelware churning them out because they’re as cheap as the artist who draws them. The reputation isn’t entirely unfair. But one series that always did the job properly was SpinTop’s Mystery P.I. collection. While companies like Big Fish are still pumping out HO puzzles with voice acting, daft storylines, extra puzzles, and borderline point-n-click elements, the fine art of the hidden object was best mastered between 2007 and 2009. Why? Because they understood that it was more than just clutter – it was about wit.

In SpinTop’s various HO series, what was distinct was the smarts with which objects were hidden, often causing you to chuckle when you eventually realised how the fire hydrant had been so cleverly concealed along the side of the fire engine. And most of all, they were not beholden to scale – some of their best tricks were making something far too big for you to notice it. When looking for a one cent coin, it’s hard to spot that it’s three feet wide and leaning against the side of a wardrobe.

So put aside snobbery – hidden object games are fine, fun puzzles, and these were the best of the lot. Sadly, the tech they ran on doesn’t seem to play so nicely these days, with juddering controls in the ones that made it to Steam.

Notes:

You’ll note that this was all in the past tense. In 2007 PopCap bought SpinTop, primarily for their distribution service, and of course EA bought PopCap in 2011, before stamping on it again and again and again until there were no more signs of life.

Where can I buy it:

Steam

What else should I be playing if I like this:

There are 120 hidden object games on Steam, so it’s worth browsing through the tag and seeing if anything takes your fancy, making sure to check the user reviews to weed out the dross.

Read more:

Eurogamer reviews of the DS versions of Mystery P.I. games.

21: Sokobond

Developer: Alan Hazelden, Harry Lee, Ryan Roth

Publisher: Draknek

My natural fear of Chemistry (an E at A level will do that to a person), and my intense frustration with Sokoban puzzles, leaves me certain that Sokobond could not be a game I’d enjoy. And yet Sokobond is a game I enjoy.

Its seamless combination of block-moving and covalent bonding, orchestrated with ambient calming pings and plonks, seems to prove that two wrongs can be very right. Tricky from the start, but never unfair, you’ll find yourself accidentally learning things about chemistry as you negotiate levels that require no previous knowledge at all. It’s charming, extremely cleanly presented, and very entertaining. Unlike a chemistry A level paper.

Notes: The game is still a PC exclusive, despite seeming a natural fit for electric telephones. So feel smug about that.

Developer Alan Hazelden is extremely prolific, with dozens and dozens of games to play here: http://www.draknek.org/games/

Where can I buy it:

GOG, Steam, developer’s site

What else should I be playing if I like this: You’d do well to take a look at the lovely Ittle Dew. It’s a sort of adventure-cum-puzzle game, involving a similarly interesting approach to Sokoban puzzling.

Read more: Pip’s love for it.
Marsh’s dissection of what makes a good puzzle game.

From this site

143 Comments

  1. James says:

    Does trying to comprehend the full extent of The Stanley Parable constitute a puzzle? If so I have a new winner for you.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Dorga says:

    Don’t we consider Braid a puzzle game?

    • Saul says:

      They mention it on the last page, but it didn’t make the list. It does seem fairly bizarre to leave it out. Especially since P.B. Winterbottom is essentially a fun-but-inferior riff on one of Braid’s chapters.

      • Pazguato says:

        So true. Braid is a marterpiece mix of puzzle and platform. Lots of games that don’t deserve to be in this kind of listy also, like horrid “The Tiny Bang Story”. And Portal is not number one?! Come on.

        • Freezern says:

          Yeah, seriously where is Braid and Fez?

          I was actually expecting a browsergame to make this list too: “The Company of Myself”
          A beautiful puzzle game, if a bit short.

    • cristoffson says:

      I also missed Braid, it is my favorite puzzle game along with Portal and another one that wasn’t on this list, FEZ. Although I realize this last one is controversial because it doesn’t adhere to what we generally think is good design, it is a testament to what can be achieved if you take obfuscation to new levels. I thought the combined efforts to crack its deepest secrets were fascinating, I read those forums for hours on end, even though I didn’t participate. It’s just a game that can get under your skin through it’s crazy, all encompassing mysteries. But I understand that many people thought it was meh (didn’t even get a review on RPS).

    • bill says:

      PB winterbottom was one of those games that RPS usually moan about.. one of the ones where you work out what you have to do bu can’t pull it off due to occasionally needing huge amounts of reactions and coordination.

      Braid, on the other hand, is pretty much prefect. Very strange choice to have PB winterbottom on the list. very very strange to not have Braid.

    • Nupe says:

      No. We consider Braid a work of art.

  3. pepperfez says:

    “Puzzle game” is a very weird genre. The foremost example of a puzzle game is Tetris, which is really no more a puzzle than it is a top-down shooter (and many bullet-hell shooters have a pretty decent claim to being puzzles).
    That was written without having read the preamble, in which “platforming-esque challenges” are explicitly included. So it’s not a matter of RPS being wrong about what a puzzle game is, but wrong about what a good puzzle game is.

    • pepperfez says:

      Hmm…that was meant to be a reply to Dorga, unless the comments are doing that thing where everyone but I can see the reply structure, in which case it’s obvious it was meant to be a reply to Dorga.

  4. Cockie says:

    Nevertheless, the cake is still a lie.

    Mwuhahahahaha! You have no power over me!

  5. golem09 says:

    I hate to be the “but where is XXX” guy, but if Puzzle Quest is in this list, Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes HAS to be in it too, and at a better spot as well. It is so so so well done that it’s fun to replay, even though you can only repeat the exact same campaign and gameplay progression.
    Not only is the basic gameplay insanely fun, but at every fifth of the campaign the basic building blocks are changed, and you constantly get optional puzzle challenges that teach you more about the system you’ve already been using for hours and enhance your skills in actual battles. Game Design Porn. By Capy.

    Aside from that, just as a personal preferences I would probably have put Spacechem in the top 5, because it’s awesomeness is earth shattering.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Clash Of Heroes was a good game ruined by a substandard package. Too many unskippable cutscenes and the load times were pathetic for such a simple game. A puzzle game should be one click and I am playing again.

  6. JeCa says:

    This was an… odd.. list.

    Not that I think it’s “wrong” or anything, but since graphical fidelity isn’t a limiting factor in creating good puzzle experiences it’s a bit odd how few “classics” there are on the list.

  7. Matt_W says:

    This is going to be extremely controversial, but I don’t think of Tetris (and a few other of those) as puzzle games. To me, any game that requires twitch reflex isn’t a puzzle game. Tetris requires no planning, puzzling, figuring out: after all, it’s got a very finite number of permutations that you get to know pretty quickly. What it does is test your ability to recognize and act upon those permutations very quickly using muscle memory. There’s no ‘puzzling’.

    Portal 2 > Portal by any measure except nostalgia. And Myst (or Riven)? The Swapper?

    This list should have included some classic IF puzzlers: Hitchhikers’, Curses, Savoir-Faire, Hadean Lands, etc.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gus the Crocodile says:

      I don’t think I’d go so far as to say “any game that requires twitch reflex isn’t a puzzle game” personally, but I don’t think of Tetris as primarily a puzzle game either. The moment-to-moment process of quickly putting something in the right space doesn’t strike me as all that much more puzzly than, say, aiming your gun at an enemy’s head rather than his armoured chest in an FPS.

    • malkav11 says:

      I think even the more classic puzzle-oriented form of IF tends to more closely approximate the adventure game genre than the pure puzzle game. But certainly they’re closer than Tetris.

    • Baines says:

      It isn’t controversial. Tetris isn’t a puzzle game. It is a reflex game, with importance on pattern/shape skills. Some versions of Tetris have puzzle modes, but Tetris itself isn’t a puzzle game. You might as well call Pac-Man a puzzle game.

      Even John couldn’t come up with a justification for including Tetris. Instead John brings up some idea of ‘”What is a puzzle game?” confusion’, claiming that Tetris is one of the best examples. The confusion in this case appears to come from trying to force an improper label onto a title, only to find nothing that supports your opinion. Tetris largely seems to make the list simply because it is an extremely popular classic game, where its worldwide popularity and recognition allows it to place in “Best Puzzle Game” lists despite not actually being a puzzle game.

    • JimmyG says:

      Portal 2’s expanded mechanics and J.K. Simmonsisms are great, and I still love that ending where you quite literally shoot for the moon — but there’s one major difference between the two that you might not recognize. In Portal, most of the puzzles have various solutions. You beat the game once, slowly, circuitously figuring out each room — but then you can play the challenges that say, “Hey, do this using only 2 portals,” And that’s when you realize how many different things are possible in each room; how many shortcuts and innovations and wonkinesses can be taken advantage of to be more efficient or creative in solving the puzzle.

      In Portal 2, every room has one solution. Just one. Repeated experimentation is no longer fruitful, which goes against everything Aperture Science stood for.

    • ulix says:

      This is clearly wrong, at least for most modern versions of Tetris, where you can see the next couple of Tetrominos you’ll get, and where you can usually hold one of them for later use.

      Arguably even older versions without these gameplay elements require planning. Leaving the right gap for the long Tetromino is also planning after all, even if it’s quite simple planning.

      • ulix says:

        I was planning on putting a quote of you in front of my reply:
        “Tetris requires no planning, puzzling, figuring out”

        Give us an Edit-Function, RPS!

      • Baines says:

        You can see where the ghosts are in Pac-Man, but does that make it a puzzle game?

        Although, depending on how you look at it, have some of those classic arcade action games become puzzle games in a sense? (At the least as much as what people argue for games like Tetris.) Particularly when played for high scores, which was the point of a lot of older arcade games. And even more so when a game has a maximum possible score that cannot be obtained without careful planning.

        The ghosts in Pac-Man are controlled by simple behavior rules, which can be exploited by players to control the ghosts. You can play Pac-Man as a twitch reflex game (as you can games like Tetris), but you can also play it as a puzzle game where you manipulate situations so that the ghosts never get you. More than that, if you are playing for score, then you need to figure out how to manipulate the ghosts to be in optimal positions for when you eat a power pill.

  8. Premium User Badge

    zapatapon says:

    John, how dare you leaving out DROD from this list? This is an outrage, I’m revoking my subscription now and you have no taste.

    Seriously, the DROD series is incredible. It is 100% pure puzzle. It is a PC game at heart. It is brimming with incredible ideas and clever designs. It is a constant, ever renewed delight for puzzle lovers. There is nothing even remotely like it on the market, it created and occupies its niche on its own. It also displays a very… unique… sense of humor.

    How can it not be on this list?

    • malkav11 says:

      I was about to say much the same thing. A top 25 PC puzzle game list that misses out every single DROD game and yet somehow finds time for Bejeweled, Peggle and Tetris, which are games of an entirely different genre (as well as other dubious propositions like hidden object games, but those have a slightly better claim to being a puzzle, even if it’s a different kind of puzzle than most of the games on the list present) is rather mad.

      • malkav11 says:

        On further inspection, it appears that although I recalled RPS being DROD-aware, there’s actually only two articles about DROD games on the site, one by Alec Meer and one by Adam Smith (Alec having only just encountered them); and no sign that John Walker has ever heard of them. I can only assume he hasn’t because there can be no other reason to omit them from a list like this. And they’re not exactly high profile, sadly. :(

  9. vorador says:

    21# made me remember of an old DOS game i played when i was young, that it was about bonding molecules by moving blocks in a pretty similar way.

    A quick search gave me Atomix. Which i think it is.

    • sicbanana says:

      Ah! There is the other person who remembers Atomix! Yay! :D
      (it was on C64 first)

  10. yandexx says:

    Antichamber! Braid! English Country Tune!

    • Eddie Bax says:

      It’s like you read my mind. Down with this sort of list!

    • Czrly says:

      I approve of a lot on this list but omitting Antichamber is simply ludicrous and discredits the entire piece…. also, The Incredible Machine.

      • Trigonometric says:

        Agreed, Antichamber not being here is a disgrace! Granted it gets a fair amount of praise, but it still manages to slip under a lot of radars…

    • joonazan says:

      How can you list The Talos Principle, but not Antichamber? The Talos Principle is four or five games thrown together* while Antichamber is monolithic and does not repeat the same puzzles tens of times.

      *The story has nothing to do with the puzzles. The Serpent is only loosely related to the rest of the story. Assembling tetrominoes only serves a purpose when Climbing The Tower(as a confirmation), but it still is everywhere.

  11. wwarnick says:

    I like most of the entries. I agree that Portal 1 should be included over Portal 2. And I absolutely loved World of Goo, and am happy to see it at #1.

    However, I do think that Braid should be on the list. I am glad to see on the last page that you expected us to mention it, which means that you at least you considered it. However, I think it is one of the most well thought out and precisely crafted puzzle games out there. Jonathan Blow may be a blunt and opinionated man, but he held himself to his own unusually high standard and made an amazing game. I can’t imagine that you didn’t consider it a puzzle game because it’s clearly more “puzzley” than many of the other games in the list, so it must be that you didn’t think it was as good. For the same reason that you didn’t put both Portal 1 and 2 on the list, but only entered one representative, you might have done the same with the Bejeweled variants and made room for Braid next to Portal and World of Goo.

  12. Scurra says:

    When a fair chunk of your entries may not, by your own admission, actually be puzzle games at all, then there’s something slightly askew. (That doesn’t mean that Puzzle Quest shouldn’t be there; it’s possibly the only one of the match-3 games that merits it simply by virtue of being as much about what you leave for your opponent as what you take for yourself.) And the arguments about Tetris are well-rehearsed.

    Anyway, any list of puzzle games that doesn’t include The Fool’s Errand is not worth considering. Close to thirty years old now and it’s still better than anything else that pretends to be a puzzle game because you really can’t solve it by luck. (I am not counting IF games as they are clearly their own category.)

    • malkav11 says:

      Puzzle Quest has (IIRC as their “crafting” system) fixed boards that you have to clear entirely with precise moves. They qualify as puzzles, I think, even if that’s a bit of a slender reed to rest a “puzzle game” label on. (After all, there are puzzles in some of the Duels of the Planeswalkers games where you have a preset Magic playing field and must win (or perhaps achieve some specific effect) in one turn of play. But I wouldn’t call them puzzle games.)

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Oh, I was thinking about that game. Excellent, excellent game. Good black and white pixel art, too.

    • Baines says:

      Looking a bit more carefully, I noticed that only five on the list lack links to RPS articles: (22) Mystery PI Series, (18) Tetris, (12) Shanghai, (5) Lemmings 2, and (4) Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords.

      While Mystery PI doesn’t link to an RPS article, the Eurogamer article that it does link to is attributed to John Walker. While Tetris links to no interview, the text mentions the writer having interviewed Alexey Pajitnov.

      It is certainly convenient that RPS just happened to have written articles and reviews for 20 of the “The 25 Best Puzzle Games Ever Made”. 21 if you count John reviewing one game for another site. 22 if you count the mentioned Pajitnov interview.

      • John Walker says:

        Hehe! What are you implying?!

        Yes, of course we linked to articles on our own site on our own site! And when there weren’t any (because the games pre-dated our existence) I recalled other articles I’ve written about them in the past.

  13. KenP says:

    While it might not make the top 25 list (and it’s rather self-serving to mention), I think Hammer Penguins is a lot of fun.

  14. Rikard Peterson says:

    But I like the bottom of the page being crumbled on the floor!

  15. shagen454 says:

    I consider Antichamber a puzzle game and it’s bar-none the best puzzle game I’ve ever played; not too mention one of the most psychedelic games I’ve ever played.

    • theslap says:

      Too migraine inducing for my taste.

    • Trigonometric says:

      I would pay a large amount of money to erase my memory Eternal Sunshine style just so I could have the pleasure of playing it through for the first time again.

  16. Hillbert says:

    OK, I’ll be the one. Ahem.

    Spacechem is way too low. It’s a puzzle game so great you can build other computers out of it.

    And I really can’t see John’s point about the interface. It’s minimal and really well designed. It’s only complex through necessity. The amount of information and moving parts in the top level puzzles is just staggering.

    Anyway, just my tuppence. Good list of games though.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      Aye, have to agree that Spacechem deserved a higher spot, but given John’s opinion on it, perhaps we’re lucky it got to be here at all… Personally I’d probably put it at No 1 – I don’t think I’ve ever got as many hours out of a puzzler, and I still haven’t finished it yet.
      I can’t say I’d ever thought of the interface getting in the way (although it did play a bit slowly on my shitty Android tablet).

      • Geebs says:

        Spacechem’s user interface on tablets is wretched, the tutorial is terrible, and the rating system has been ruined by people going back and speed running the very earliest bits like a bunch of chodes. I don’t get the appeal, and I really don’t see what educational value it’s supposed to have; might as well play Night Shift if you want to learn how to futz about with conveyor belts as a living.

    • hprice says:

      Spacechem is a beautiful game in it’s simplicity. It has the same kind of beauty that mathematics can have. Hard as nails, of course … for me, anyway. But still extraordinarily beautiful.

      But there are numerous other puzzle games out there that don’t ever get a look in, anywhere. I’m sure there are a few out there that would top most of the choices on this list, hands down.

      And what about things like Chips Challenge … or the super obscure Wumby II which riffed off Chips Challenge with a german duck … or Berusky … a czechoslavakian puzzler about a little ladybird. In fact, what about all the Czech puzzle games out there that are never mentioned, eh? What about Fish Fillets 2 which featured two talking fish in Mulder and Scully roles???? Huhhhh????

      Or Blocks 5 (another super-obscure one for you, pop fans), Escape, dozens of Japanese ones that are far better than Hoshi Story … Enigma … Sokoblaster … Sokoban 2000 … the list goes on and on and on as far as the eye can see … and then falls off the end of the world only to come back around again when it reaches infinity.

  17. moms pubis says:

    I don’t see The Fool’s Errand anywhere on this list FOR SOME REASON.

  18. Frank says:

    Huh, I’d put Nurikabe, Alberi, Picross and that Android game Einstein’s Logic ahead of… well… all of these. It’s all about nigh-infinite replayability for me when it comes to puzzle games. The only PC games I know of that meet that requirement are Flash games.

    • Frank says:

      Oh right, I forgot Square Logic. Now there’s a good puzzle game!

    • malkav11 says:

      You should check out Deadly Rooms of Death, my friend. Five or so games worth of hours and hours of excellent puzzles, plus a dozen or more meaty releases of addon content, plus it’s an open source engine with a full level editor and literally hundreds of user made puzzle sets with more in the works all the time. And they’re generally made in such a way that you can solve the puzzles in various ways but a truly skilled player can do so in far fewer moves than a novice. And there are leaderboards. Also, you’ll only get one tileset and a smidgen of music, but you can play all the user-created sets in the free demo for the latest installment. Or earlier ones, for that matter, as long as you don’t try to run one made for a later installment (because they introduce new mechanics each time).
      link to forum.caravelgames.com

  19. MattM says:

    Braid should be on here but others have made its case. I’ll speak up for Vessel. It mixed fluid physics and lifeform creation really well in its puzzles and had a nice little story. Some puzzles are hard because they ask you to order a large number of simple steps and that can be fun, but I love the ones where the solution to a puzzle requires a conceptual breakthrough where you have to think of a new way to use your tools. Vessel (and Portal, Braid, World of Goo) did this really well.

  20. Risingson says:

    Really really weird list. There are some classics and modern classics here, but two missing games that are among the most brilliant of all: The Fool’s Errand and Drod. Add 3 in Three or any other Cliff Johnson game.

    The Popcap hidden objects games are ok, but if you want to include, for whatever reason, a hidden object game in this list, I think that the MumboJumbo ones are much much better.

    Lemmings 2 is pretty, but its difficulty spikes are something I don’t want to remember. The first one is still better.

    The Lost Vikings is severely missed here, as it stands up today as really fun. Many of the puzzles of the 90s are missing: Humans, Loopz, Breakout, Puzznic, Atomix (yes, it was short, but beautiful). Not mentioning the Corey Cole Castle of Dr Brain is just unfair, as it is as puzzling as edutaintming. Wetrix, remember Wetrix!

    And no Sokoban, the game we all owe so much. And many others.

    The list, ok, is not weird, it is just really weak. And even more weak when you compare it with the console games mentioned in the intro.

    • Risingson says:

      Add any Supaplex or whatever-is-the-original clone – my favourite one was “The legend of Myra” starred by a rabbit. Add the wonderful Hoyle collection, that had a word creation puzzle game with monkeys that I still find funny. Add some Amiga classics as Pushover and One Step Beyond.

      Even some classics for the Spectrum era. Deflektor! You think that was too unfair and arcadish? Then the shareware counterpoint, Laser Light. Many many others are coming into my mind now, as any variation of the pipes game. And just to finish this, many of the Myst clones were based on puzzle games, but few were as unapologetically puzzle-y as the original Safecracker, which I still love. And let’s say Obsidian, because that wonderful piece of madness will never be referenced in these pages any other way.

      • Geebs says:

        IT IS THE 90’S, AND THERE IS TIME FOR KLAX

        Yeah, I loved deflektor. People seem to hate on it because it involved directing lasers, which I consider a bizarre offshoot of people hating Myst because it involved using lateral thinking.

    • hprice says:

      Wow … puzznic … I thought I was the only one who knew of puzznic. Huzzah, I am not alone.

      (you never are, little cat, you never are …)

  21. Memph says:

    Darn right on Lemmings the first being superior. Although some of those Mayhem levels were pretty darn difficult, not to mention spikey. And burny. And drowny…

    I still always think first of Lemmings for absolutely classic video/computer game music. Ten green bottles, mixed into funeral march, into here comes the bride was just sodding genius. On the Amiga, it sounded magical.

    • Risingson says:

      And I think it still has the record for the most ported game, or at least game that is not a clone of any other.

  22. ansionnach says:

    Disappointing list. World of Goo? Far too frantic, messy and imprecise for my liking. The original Lemmings is superior to all of these, including its sequel, which is less elegant and suffers from lashing ideas at a wall syndrome. Not that the original was never frantic, messy or imprecise, but the best solutions often weren’t.

    Pretty much all DOS games should be eligible. I’d throw Tetris Classic in as the best PC Tetris game I’ve played. Would be an interesting exercise to play them all to see which one is the best. Probably not necessary, as just “Tetris” is fine.

    Where’s The Lost Vikings? It’s much better than all the pretentious platform puzzlers that have followed.

    I’ll also fly the flag for the massively under-rated (and hated) 3d Lemmings. Took the spirit and purity of the original into the third dimension and made it easier to select the right lemming, adding precision (not that All New World of Lemmings hadn’t already achieved this). Still sure it failed because you really had to think in 3d to succeed… so perhaps it was ahead of its time. Maybe one for fans of Portal to dig out? It was always a bit clunky but it’s got enough precision so that success is down to your wits. Too bad Clockwork Games never got the recognition it deserved for this one, especially as this was their first and last game.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      I agree with you about Lemmings 2. Some of the myriad of skills were just thrown out there, many were extremely similar to each other and even more could have quite unpredictable results (I remember the sports tribe in particular being a big pain to play, with all that javelin throwing and archery and whatnot). More variety, but not as cleverly constructed.

      I still want to revisit Lemmings 3D some day. I really liked it way back when it came out and never understood why it’s hated so much. Perhaps I’m forgetting something crucial, I don’t know.

      • ansionnach says:

        The sports tribe was foremost in my mind, too. There were many times where you’d find some sort of an exploit involving those messy, imprecise skills that’d let you get more than the gold standard (rescue all lemmings on a level where this wasn’t supposed to be possible). I’d go as far as to say that All New World of Lemmings was the better game here. It was certainly more streamlined and focused; it also removed the craziness of trying to select a lemming from a large group. Not that Lemmings 2 wasn’t good, I probably had more love for it than ANWoL. Whatever about the levels and the messiness, there was something infectious and exciting about its enthusiasm. Maybe that’s why people like World of Goo so much – it’s an even messier, frantic and game with loads of imagination and enthusiasm. I did find it endearing to begin with but then tired of it.

        3D Lemmings is probably a bit of a hard sell, seeing as its engine was decrepit-looking on release. A lot of people had trouble manoeuvring the camera about. I’d imagine it was an absolute pain on the PSX and Saturn, but if you’re an old-school PC gamer who has a bit of patience and isn’t afraid of trying a game with a unique control system you’ve never seen before, you might get the hang of it. I think the best results were to use the num pad in combination with the mouse, while taking advantage of the preset cameras the designers placed. The first-person (first-lemming?) view can also be useful. As far as I remember you could probably do all the levels just using the preset cameras so you can use these to simplify things.

        What I was really impressed with in 3D Lemmings was the puzzles, especially late on. It certainly isn’t a game designed so that just anyone can complete it. I’d say that you’ve got to think three dimensionally in a way that still isn’t common in games… so most people will never be able to finish it. Coupled with the multi-tasking and complex controls it’s no wonder this didn’t do well. Anyone who can’t handle something new, unique and challenging with plenty of rough edges won’t get on with it at all. I’d certainly be interested in hearing from someone who completed it and just didn’t like it. I’m sure that’s possible, too! For me the original Lemmings and 3D Lemmings are the essential ones. Never played Lemmings Revolution – maybe that’s okay, too. Disappointing on the face of it that it took a backward step to give you a “3d” game that was really just 2d, like so many others, even today.

        • ansionnach says:

          Meant to say: seeing as 3D Lemmings looks so much like Minecraft, maybe people can now forgive its ugliness and give it a chance. Especially if Portal has prepared them for puzzling in 3d. I’d say the controls and camera will be too much for most, or at least all those commenters on the internet who seem unable or unwilling to play a game that doesn’t use WASD+mouse or an XBox controller.

  23. thinginathing says:

    Mmm, yeah there is a distinct lack of indie gem Blocksum. If you have not tried it please improve your life considerably by obtaining it. Tis free.

    link to infotech.rim.zenno.info

  24. jgf1123 says:

    For puzzle purist aficionados, let me put it this way: imagine if Japanese publisher Nikoli were to announce a brand new, digital-only puzzle design.
    I found myself agreeing with much of the article, but this is verging on an outright lie for the following reason:
    This is a meticulous, deeply intelligent puzzle game, demanding you stretch yourself, constantly learning new tricks, new techniques for fathoming available moves.
    When I played the first Hexcells, based on the recommendation of RPS, I snoozed through it. I didn’t learn any new tricks, nor did I stretch myself. I kept thinking, “Okay, maybe that was the last of the tutorial puzzles. Now’s when the interesting ones come out.” But except for a few moments, the puzzles fell as quickly as my mouse clicking finger would allow. Rather than stimulating my brain, it was mindless filler activity. This really makes me feel we’ve been playing completing different games.

    Note, I never played the latter two games because of my experience with the first one.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gus the Crocodile says:

      A tutorial is a good way to describe the first Hexcells, in the context of the other two. Obviously I can’t say whether or not you’ll like them any more; for all I know you might find them trivial too, but they are basically “advanced” level packs and for me required substantially more thinking to solve than the first game. I very much enjoyed them, myself.

    • malkav11 says:

      The Hexcells games escalate in difficulty in order of release, so although it might be that you consider the lot of them insultingly easy, stopping at the first one is exactly the wrong move in terms of deriving challenge from them.

    • jgf1123 says:

      Tonight, I revisited Hexcells to see if I missed something. I overstated the speed at which I clicked, but otherwise stand by what I said previously. There were two instances in the first game that stumped me for a while. The rest of time was spent scanning the board for obvious clicks or replaying a level because I confused left and right click too many times again.

      meticulous: these aren’t haphazard, computer-generated levels, I’ll agree
      deeply intelligent puzzle game: strongly disagree
      demanding you stretch yourself: disagree
      constantly learning new tricks, new techniques for fathoming available moves: strongly disagree

      Thinking maybe it’s just because I haven’t tried the later games, I then watched a playthrough of Hexcells Plus 6-1, hoping that it would show me something more interesting. It has more places where you had to use two clues in conjunction, but still nothing I would call a stretch. And a lot of it was still making obvious clicks.

      FYI, for Nikoli-esque logic puzzles, I do link to gmpuzzles.com These are written and beta-tested by the sort of people who compete in national puzzle championships. I am no where near their ranks, in these puzzles, there are fewer places where you just crank through same patterns over and over again and more places where you have to think your way forward. Basically, the words John said would be how I describe these puzzles, and what I’ve seen from Hexcells pales in comparison.

      • Premium User Badge

        basilisk says:

        You really can’t judge Hexcells based on the first game, which is mostly a very simple tutorial. And FYI, each of the “worlds” within each game also increases in complexity, so the X-1 levels are usually simple training material explaining the theme of the world, and then it starts ramping up. 6-1 on Plus is not the pinnacle of what the game can do.

        I see I’m the third person telling you this, so maybe we’re not all wrong?

        • Premium User Badge

          Gus the Crocodile says:

          To be fair, ideally at least, it’s not really about right and wrong. Jgf has mostly just said that they disagree with John, which is fine; I’ve disagreed with John’s feelings about games plenty of times. If someone is much better at these kinds of puzzles than me (or John, or anyone else) and finds them all only trivial challenges, well, that’s a perfectly valid response to the game.

          (It does mean, similarly, that “we”, in turn, probably aren’t going to find “these were designed by the kind of people who compete in puzzle championships” as an important selling point if we’re feeling challenged enough as it is. “Thinking my way forward” is precisely what I was doing in the Hexcells games.)

          The only thing that’s been said that I have a problem with, I think, is the “verging on an outright lie” comment. Hopefully we can all accept that different people have different responses, different skill levels etc without making those differences out to be anything at all like dishonesty.

          • jgf1123 says:

            Fair enough, I take back the “outright lie” since, from John’s perspective and others, it is not. I just watched Hexcells Plus 6-5. It has many more places where you need to find the right two clues to put together to do more clicks. However, if this is the hardest puzzles in the game, then we’re just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. I am glad you all enjoy these puzzles, but I will stand by my dissenting opinion.

      • Baines says:

        I’ve never played Hexcells, but I’m going to guess that the problem is similar to a potential issue with puzzles like Minesweeper, Picross, and Sudoku.

        When you don’t know the gimmicks and patterns, you sit there trying to puzzle out the solution. You make guesses, spend time seeing if they fail, etc.

        But the puzzles are based on simple numeric logic, and (with an exception for Minesweeper*) give you all the information required to solve the puzzle within the numbers visible at the start. And people can start to recognize the layout gimmicks and number patterns, particularly in simpler designs. Minesweeper is fairly basic. You can reach a point where you recognize number patterns around blocks on sight, flagging or revealing without conscious thought. As the player improves, the ‘puzzle’ part becomes increasingly trivial while all the difficulty comes from the player reaching situations where insufficient information forces guesswork.

        Picross and Sudoku can be made harder by providing less information (but still enough that only one overall solution is possible), forcing players to play out potential solutions multiple moves into the future to see whether they hold up or fail. But in their basic form, these too can be run largely on autopilot. I’m guessing that Hexcells is similar?

        *(Minesweeper is the exception because it starts with and can repeatedly reach states mid-play with insufficient information to ‘solve’ safe locations to reveal to proceed, forcing the player to guess in situations where mistakes mean automatic failure.)

        • jgf1123 says:

          In the puzzle community, what you refer to is called “backtracking”: if you hypothesize one choice and follow the chain of conclusions that can be drawn to find something impossible, then the original hypothesis was false. (In math, this is called proof by contradiction.) Some logic puzzle enthusiasts frown on backtracking because it effectively is brute force guessing, which is something any dumb computer can just bash through. It’s not smart and lacks elegance. However, at what point does it become backtracking? Puzzlers throw out possibilities all the time when it’s obvious they’re impossible. But following a chain of a dozen steps to determine which way you should have gone at the beginning seems excessive.

          I have seen zero backtracking in Hexcells. For one thing, it’s impossible since, like Minesweeper, your progress depends revealing clues you weren’t aware of until you clicked. Hexcells won’t even let you make a wrong move (coloring a hex vs. marking it uncolored) but instead records a mistake. Like Minesweeper, you make progress by finding the 1 clue or combination of 2 clues that, when put together, allow you to deduce some moves. But while in Minesweeper the clues you put together are just 1 or 2 cells apart, in Hexcells you might have something like, “There is only 1 more colored hex in this row, but it must be in one of the two cells adjacent to this other clue, so then the rest must be cleared,” and visually these clues aren’t as close together as in Minesweeper, so you’ll have to hunt for them. But this is as complicated as Hexcells gets.

          • Baines says:

            Backtracking was only in the final paragraphs, when mentioning a way that some Picross and Sudoku puzzles can be made harder. It wasn’t what I was talking about.

            What I was talking about was the way that such games can be largely worked on autopilot once you are able to recognize basic patterns, because the required information to proceed is visible and the rules are basic.

            For example, in Minesweeper it is pretty basic that if you see a “1” next to a single unrevealed tile then you know that tile is a bomb. But you can also recognize larger patterns, like glancing at a line of numbers and realizing where the bombs are all along a wall, without any active thought. For Picross, there is a similar effect. You look at the numbers, and maybe the grid, and automatically process which lines you can already solve. No thought required. It happens with Sudoku as well, though not quite as easily.

            These puzzles are really just basic math problems, solvable step by step without issue (unless you require guessing/backtracking). Solve the placement of one black section in Picross, and then you have the information to solve the next black section, which gives the information to solve the next black section. Then go back and solve a separate black section. Now the combination of those give you the information to solve the next black section.

            The problems are that pattern recognition shortcircuits a lot of required logic (kind of like world record Rubic’s Cube solvers I guess, who learn cube patterns and rote memorize sequences to solve them), and the logic itself is something that some people just process without conscious effort anyway.

  25. Baines says:

    The embedded page links (like “25-21”) are all broken. They point to the wrong dated directory (04/24) instead of the correct one (05/08). The page buttons links (like “Page 2”) point to the correct paths though.

  26. Sic says:

    Yeah, OK, I’ll be the cliché: SpaceChem not in the top three? Bloody nonsense. It’s pretty much the only puzzle game worth mentioning in the last fifteen years (alongside The Talos Principle). Give me a break John. Give me a damn break.

  27. Jalan says:

    No love for Kairo?

    Eh, can’t list ’em all I suppose.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      They loved Kairo. They just loved Bejeweled 3 more.

      • Jalan says:

        The implication that it would’ve been the bottom spot is just depressing – I was going to say enraging but I’m not that type of person.

        That said, I’m aware of what John thought of it. The most bewildering thing of all is why it was passed over for inclusion in the list – did it get classed out due to its “adventure” elements?

        Maybe I’m biased, having had recent interaction with the man who did the sound design and score for the game and being blown away by how much of an awesome guy he was.

  28. JackMultiple says:

    Jelly No Puzzle No on No puzzle No list? No? I think this is the most fiendish puzzle I’ve ever played, and for that reason maybe a good reason not to be on this list. Yes. I hate myself when I have to watch a YT video to see how stupid I am.

    • Jalan says:

      I get the reason for it, but I see a possibility that someone might think you’ve suffered a stroke during that first sentence. Or that they’ve suffered one as they read it.

      Any game that had Terry Cavanagh stumped multiple times over should’ve have been on this list, most definitely.

      • Fenix says:

        Actually I chuckled at his first sentence, it was sneaky cool wordplay considering the developer of the game is Japanese. And I second that it should have been on this list, especially since I discovered it via RPS (I believe it was featured on Porpentine’s now defunct Live Free, Play Hard).

        Also, while infinite people have asked for Braid or complained of his absence, I am actually super interested on why it’s not on this list John. I would love to read your reasoning as to why you don’t like it/don’t deem it worthy of top 25.

        • Jalan says:

          That’s why I said “I get the reason for it”.

          The game was featured on freeindiegam.es, which Porpentine also wrote for (and is partly the reason why I mention Terry Cavanagh being stumped by it).

  29. ulix says:

    My favorite puzzle games are the Panel de Pon/Tetris Attack/Puzzle League series by Nintendo. They require twitch reflexes, but at the same time they require planning (if you want to be any good) for building combos.

    Harry (Henry?) Hatsworth by EA for the DS took that gameplay and married it with a nice little action platformer.

    It’s weird how such an old gameplay concept could then (on the DS) profit so much from touch-controls. One of the few older games that is clearly and undeniably better with touch-controls.

  30. MadTinkerer says:

    While we’re recommending excellent puzzle games not on the list, I highly recommend Rooms: The Main Building and the recently (FINALLY) released Rooms: The Unsolvable Puzzle. Both are on Steam now.

  31. Premium User Badge

    Gassalasca says:

    The only reason I can think of for The Incredible Machine’s not being included is that perhaps it’s not considered a puzzle game. No one even mentions it in the comments!

    • Person of Interest says:

      Yes, it wasn’t even mentioned in passing. Well, the Internet says John has name-checked The Incredible Machine in the past, so I guess we need to accept the reality that it was only the 26th best puzzle game ever made.

    • Premium User Badge

      zapatapon says:

      I actually also thought of The Incredible Machine but was too busy complaining about the non-inclusion of Deadly Rooms of Death, above.

      Also, sorry to just echo everybody, but: why no Braid? Since John explicitly mentioned it as a deliberate omission, this calls for some sort of argument explaining this decision.

  32. edwardh says:

    Ah yes, Puzzle Quest. I love this game so much… It’s just a shame that they only published one of the two games on mobile and followed it up with that horrible, horrible Marvel Puzzle Quest. Because the Puzzle Quest 2 is THE game I enjoy playing the most when I’m on the go.
    So much in fact, that I started playing the original Puzzle Quest on the PC. But… on PC, I find more engaging, “action-packed” (even “This War of Mine” or “Atom Zombie Smasher”) more appealing.

  33. Kitsunin says:

    I’ve been playing TRI: Of Friendship and Madness recently. I wouldn’t say it’s top 25 material by any means, largely because I don’t have the puzzling background to make such a judgment, but it is disappointing to see that the only acknowledgement it’s seen on RPS is a release mention, which I must have missed when it happened.

    Due to its lovely aesthetic, it’s one of the only puzzlers I’ve played in which I feel genuinely excited to enter the next room or level, and looking back at the pretty assortment of triangles you created to solve a puzzle is a wonderful reward in itself. It’s also one of the only games in recent memory to hit me with the Tetris Effect…it made me feel like gravity was spinning in front of my eyes for a little while after I quit playing it last.

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      I played that game and found it incredibly frustrating and very fiddly. The concept is good, but the core mechanic is just so imprecise to control, yet the game insists on increasingly more precise use of it. So I gave up about two thirds in.

      • Kitsunin says:

        I’ll admit I’m more like halfway in. Thus far the mechanic only seems the slightest fiddly when it comes to getting the optional things, otherwise its challenges rarely require particularly much precision.

        • Premium User Badge

          basilisk says:

          So I take it you haven’t seen the laser beams yet? Those were the straw that broke my back.

  34. Turin Turambar says:

    Drop Peggle, put Vessel in his place.

  35. BooleanBob says:

    I’m kind of surprised Ittle Dew didn’t make the cut. I’m very surprised there’s no Picross of any kind – Gemsweeper is on Amazon, is middleware and DRM-free and has the soothingest nu-age synth-rock of all time. I’m not surprised Chip’s Challenge is missing, but nostalgia demands it not go unchampioned in the comments. The spiritual successor isn’t half bad either.

    While we’re on the nostalgia tip, I have fond-ish memories of Paganitzu.

    I’ve been raving about Puzzle and Dragons Z recently. I think it’s leagues ahead of any other match-3 game, certainly that I’ve played. Where it really shines though is in the tiny-but-tremendous tweak they make to the match-3 mechanic.

    Instead of swapping two gems or rotating a bloc, you simply grab one and drag it wherever you want. This swaps the positions of every gem on the path your dragging makes, until you either let go or the time limit (about five seconds) elapses. This means that you can, with careful planning and precise execution, make significant changes to the board’s composition every turn.

    This is engaging in a way I never expected a match-3 could be – chains and combos are no longer things the game randomly doles out, but an integral part of every turn and something you actively seek out and earn. I always hated those cascades of screen filling combos in Bejeweled – you poke and prod at it in the laziest ways, and suddenly the game comes alive in a patronising apocalypse of chimes and sparkles. “You did it! Great job! Look how awesome you are!!”

    On top of that you have a campaign and a party and an RPG-combat meta layer, all that additional extrinsic depth (oxymoron?) which I guess is pretty standard now. Sadly the version for phones is loaded to the nines with the worst kind of manipulative, consumer-hostile micro-transaction nonsense imaginable. So for the moment at least, to get your hands on a version which is allowed just to be a game and not a cynical cash grabbing exercise in frustration you’ll need a 3DS.

    And on the subject of Nintendo games, CATRAP CATRAP CATRAP CATRAP CATRAP CATRAP CATRAP CATRAP

    • Kitsunin says:

      Oh man, that came out? Sweet, I’m getting it now.

      It sounds exactly like Tower of Saviors, which I played but disliked because of that ever present on the app store grindy copy-paste nonsense system of progression. The only such game I’ve tolerated has been Deck Heroes, and that’s only because you can skip all of the non-challenging battles.

      • Kitsunin says:

        Not really related, but on my 3DS I’ve been playing Etrian Mystery Dungeon. It’s basically what I always wanted Pokemon Mystery Dungeon to be, but it never was because of its pokemon affiliation forcing it to be so simplified.

        • BooleanBob says:

          Etrian Odyssey meets Mystery Dungeon?

          Wow. That sounds like a combination with lethal implications for my free time.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Oh yeah, it’s fantastic. You would expect it to be more difficult, and it is, but it’s also far rarer that you will wipe rather than just using an Ariadne threat when you look screwed. It does a lot of nice things that make it far less RNG than the Pokemon one. For instance, while most of your party operates via fairly predictable, but mostly uncontrollable AI, you can switch which party member you are controlling easily at any time, and you can use a small amount of your burst gauge to temporarily control every member manually. If your leader dies, you switch straight to another member rather than it being an instant wipe.

            Even if your whole party dies, you can form another backup party to rescue them.

            My only complaint is that the Sovereign is kind of broken, they dodge their own buffs half the time and can permanently bork someone’s Strength stat by casting an Arms skill on them while they already have one.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      Paganitzu! Argh, right in the nostalgia! Man, me and a friend played the hell out of that thing in computer classes at high school… Got quite a ways through before some smartarse saved over our save on the network drive thing.

    • John Walker says:

      No game was swapped on and off the list more often than Ittle Dew. In the end, my deep hate for sokoban won out, and while I love the game, I just didn’t make it.

  36. Anym says:

    The Complete List seems to differ from the individual pages in the placement of Tetrobot & Co. and whether Mystery Case Files or Mystery P.I. gets the nod for Hidden Object games:

    17: Mystery Case Files vs. Tetrobot & Co
    22: Tetrobot vs. Mystery PI Series

    • Anym says:

      Also, is there a tag for all of these Best of $GENRE lists? So far, we’ve only had Strategy and Puzzle, right?

  37. popej says:

    10,000,000 was the D’s B’s. Really looking forward to Eighty Eight’s next title:

    link to eightyeightgames.com

  38. sicbanana says:

    Sorry if I repeat the same games others mentioned, but I just gotta get these out my system now.
    I was REALLY stumped by that list… here are some (in my humble opinion) awesome puzzle games, from my “Puzzle” named category, which weren’t on the list:

    FEZ, Osmos, Braid, Machinarium, Rush, The Swapper, Antichamber.

    And I’m not even going back to the Amiga and C64 Era here… (Atomix, anyone?)
    But yeah, I guess match-3 games are really good puzzle games then, huh.

    Whatever…

  39. colorlessness says:

    echoing other commenters:

    Antichamber.
    Osmos if it counts as a ‘puzzle’ game.
    HuniePop (?)

  40. Laurentius says:

    Spacechem not in the first place ? I simply can not understand this, it should be at least in top 3.

    Warld of Goo is great, yes I replay it every now and then and have super fun time ( music !) but Spacechem is probably one of the best game ever created.

  41. ThinkTwice says:

    To have any other game than Tetris on no. 1 on this list is utter silliness.

  42. Ibed says:

    Thanks for the list John. And now, let me disagree :)

    Braid is my favourite game ever, and by extension also the best puzzle game ever. Beautiful, smart and almost perfectly designed.
    FEZ is beautiful and interesting and not the game i thought it would be when I started playing it.
    Thanks for adding Spacechem, it’s amazing. Also elegant and not at all clumsy, of course.
    Everyday Genius: SquareLogic (not sure part if part of that title is a company name) is my favourite sudoku-like. I prefer it to Hexcells, but that may just be because I’m more math-inclined.
    Starseed Pilgrim is mysterious and really makes you an explorer.

    Also, I wanted to mention that Portal 2 has several fan-made maps that are really worth your time if you liked Portal and Portal 2. And I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned 1000 Amps and Limbo, two games that you seemed to love a lot more than me.

    Lastly: the comments have made me interested in DROD and The Fool’s Errand. And with both I have the same questions: where should I start, and what should I buy?

    • malkav11 says:

      With DROD, snag a demo. Probably the one for DROD 4: Gunthro and the Epic Blunder, since it’s designed to be a good jumping off point for DROD newbies. Check that out and see if you enjoy it. There’s like five levels worth of puzzles (in my experience, hours worth) in every DROD demo, so that should be more than enough to get a good taste. If you do enjoy it (and you should, they’re brilliant), you have a choice to make. Right now there’s two good bets for where to purchase: directly from Caravel Games (caravelgames.com), or GOG. Obviously if you buy direct from the developer they are likely to get the most money from the transaction and you can register it with their forum to have an easy download from that site whenever you need as well as being able to import the levels from any games you purchase into the latest release, The Second Sky. Plus you get a free month of CaravelNet, which lets you track your scores against their server and have your ranking on a given puzzle show up in game, as well as importing hold files directly in-game instead of having to manually download them. (It’s $1 a month so it doesn’t exactly break the bank regularly.) But you’re looking at $10 each for the earlier games. If you buy from GOG, you get the first 3 for $10, DROD 4 for $10, and then Second Sky is still $20 either way. You can contact Caravel Games to get your ownership registered on their forum and I think you end up with all the above perks (maybe not free CaravelNet, I dunno), but they’re a tiny company with no support team so it’s not automatic and may not happen right away. 4 and 5 have been Greenlit on Steam, as has DROD RPG (which is a different type of puzzle that may also appeal), but as far as I know none of them have actually been released on Steam yet, presumably due to delays on Caravel’s part.

      Once you’ve got at least one of the games (again, 4 is the easiest, and I believe is also not part of the main narrative arc), you can then fully appreciate any user hold designed for your version or before. You can still play them even in the demo, mind you. Just that they won’t look as nice because there’s only one tileset in the demo. They also sell some additional spiffed up holds known as Smitemaster’s Selections (these are, in essence, paid mods. But done right.) but the only one of those you probably ought to bother with before you own all the DROD games proper is Smitemastery 101, since that’s designed to help you learn some of the techniques that people use to solve DROD puzzles. Everything else is somewhere on a fairly hardcore spectrum.

      For the Fool’s Errand (and the creator’s other games), go here: link to thefoolsgold.com

      Free, but you gotta emulate a classic Mac. If you enjoy, consider picking up the incredibly delayed sequel, A Fool and his Money, which was a classic example of inimitably titled vaporware until, y’know, it actually came out.

      • Scurra says:

        I suspect that the reason I am a hell of a lot more tolerant of Kickstarter delays than most people is that I was amongst the first twenty people to back A Fool and His Money when Cliff initially proposed it – in days long before things like KS existed. I think the game was finally finished about nine years later. Yes, really.

  43. Jenks says:

    Clicked #1
    Wasn’t Tetris
    Saved me a lot of time having to look at the rest.

  44. SuperTim says:

    It’s an interesting list, but where is TIM, Picross 3D, Lost Vikings, Boulderdash/XOR, Sokoban, Lode Runner, Chips Challenge, Solomon’s Key 1+2, Puzznic, Slitherlink, DROD, Atomix, Thunderbirds/Fish Fillets, Stone Age, Boston Bomb Club, Fool’s Errand, Bumpy, Sink or Swim?

    • jbd says:

      DROD definitely should have been top 3.

      Picross 3D never had a PC release.

      I personally liked 3 in Three a touch more than Fool’s Errand, but I wouldn’t be upset by the former being on the list. Neither had a PC release though.

      I also found Lost Vikings 2 superior to 1 (although I only learned just now it had a PC release).

      Is Bumpy really a puzzle game?

      Hadn’t heard of Sink or Swim, I’ll have to try that one.

      • ansionnach says:

        Yeah, Lost Vikings 2 was great. Went out of my way to play the SNES version as the PC one looked so damned ugly. Sink or swim? Possibly sounds like a funny one coming from someone who’s trying to promote the much-derided 3D Lemmings as a solid puzzle game, but wasn’t that a cheap-o DOS platform puzzler that wasn’t very good? Only played the demo, I’m assuming the actual game was much better? It certainly wasn’t very well received.

      • Scurra says:

        I must be imagining this PC version of The Fool’s Errand that I have on my shelf then. :) (It sits alongside the Atari ST version and a hand-burned CD with the Mac/emulated version, signed by Cliff – one of the very few games I have bought three times over and not regretted.) Alas, I no longer have a 3.5″ drive to see if the disks are readable…
        I’m pretty sure you’re right that 3-in-Three never had a formal PC release though.

  45. Sjatplat says:

    This is a list of mostly casual-puzzle games. Not pure puzzle games. whatever that is. A weird list. I agree with all who said that Braid and antichamber and Portal 2 should be on the list. I don´t care about where the different games land on the list, because I think the only reason for making a top 10/25/50 or 100 list is to have som form of excuse for remembering some good games that we might have missed.

    I love World of goo put I think Hexcells is more “pure” if at all it´s possible to shoehorn a game into the weird genre that is “puzzle games”. The question is “what is a puzzle?” If it is “a problem with one or more “hidden” solutions” then puzzles exists in almost every game genre. If we want to really be categorical and pure about the genre “puzzle game” then a game should not contain narrative or atmospheric elements, only dry and mathematical problems. But that´s boring and that´s why this list must become a wonderful stew of puzzle mutations.

    But a great reminder of good games. Fun to read.

    • bedsidetrash says:

      Yeah I think Portal, Portal 2 both need ranks. And braid and antichamber have to be near the top, and games like Peggle, tetris, etc… just need to be removed. I never played Fez but its a real puzzle game unlike half of these.

    • bedsidetrash says:

      I just don’t think any definition of puzzle game can reasonably encompass peggle…

  46. melancholicthug says:

    Regarding Bejewled 3, there was an even earlier Match-3 game. Columns, for Sega Genesis. I know because i had it and it was great.

  47. Premium User Badge

    zapatapon says:

    I’ll try to join the “my nostalgia is better than yours” competition by mentioning a much-beloved puzzle game of 1987 on 8-bit machines:
    XOR

    (There are apparently some modern windows/browser remakes, so it now counts as a PC game!)

  48. CarbonCopy says:

    Well. My two favourite puzzle games are abscent from this list- Braid and Antichamber.
    I expected Antivhamber to be off the list as it is massively under-rated but not having Braid. I really did start reading this list and thought to myself “Well, I wonder which game will be no.1, Braid or Portal…”. I was really surprised when I saw World of Goo as number 1. I never really got into it.
    Overall there are very good games on this list though it mostly looks like a list of games John likes alot and not really the best puzzle games. There are some very peculiar entries in there. 10,000,000? P.B. Winterbottom? Those are nice games but nowhere near the level of games like Braid or Fez.

  49. b0rsuk says:

    So DROD wasn’t good enough to make it on the list ? What about Fish Fillets ? Mission in Space: The Lost Colony is a very nice game too.

    People keep praising Legend of Grimrock for its fiendish puzzles.

  50. bedsidetrash says:

    peggle and bejeweled have the appeal of slot machines. they are mindlessly addictive — not really puzzle games.

    I loved world of Goo, but Portal made me think differently about what games could do. The gameplay is transcedent.