The best PC games ever Best PC games of 2018 Best graphics card 2019 Best free games Dota Underlords builds Teamfight Tactics guide [9.20]

143

The 25 Best Puzzle Games Ever Made

Mind Bending

Featured post

5: Lemmings 2: The Tribes

Developer: DMA Design

Publisher: Psygnosis

The explanation for the lack of an official Lemmings release for mobile sadly lies in the hands of Sony, who won’t let anyone else make one, and won’t make one themselves. These classic puzzle games would work perfectly on such devices, though the last time it was seen was in 2006 on the PSP. But fortunately you can still play it on PC today.

If you missed it at the time, Lemmings was a game about seeing how many of the green-mopped little blighters you could safely navigate across a level as they aimlessly marched left or right until an obstacle or death stopped them. Lemmings could be assigned particular tasks, like digging or building or floating or blocking, attempting to stop them flinging themselves down holes or into fires.

The puzzles were based on figuring out how to get enough of your crew to the exit with a limited number of skills to be assigned, and a limited number that could be sacrificed. It was all superbly balanced, and got really very tricky.

We’ve picked Lemmings 2 because, well, it was the best of the two good ones. The “Tribes” refers to the twelve different groups of Lemmings, with their differing abilities, offering a lot more variation, and more satisfying puzzles. Although, being honest, nostalgia would make me pick Christmas Lemmings, as that was the entirely free treat that I spent the most time playing.

Notes:

It’s weird to remember, but Lemmings was made by DMA Design, who now go by the name of Rockstar North, famous for slightly more violent, less cute games.

An attempt was made to remake the game for mobile, but Sony squished it, resulting in the iOS game Caveman.

Where can I buy it:

It’s not on sale anywhere, any more. However, the stellar work of Archive.org means it’s fully playable in your browser.

What else should I be playing if I like this:

World Of Goo definitely comes to mind, but you could also check out Nintendo’s Pikmin series.

Read more:

The Complete History Of Lemmings by Mike Daily

4: Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords

Developer: Infinite Interactive

Publisher: D3 Publisher

So here we are. The puzzle game that united the casual with the hardcore, match-3 with RPG, old with new with old again. A game that, from nowhere, pointed out that these two genres go well together. A million copies, clones and even its own sequels later, and still nothing beats the original Puzzle Quest.

What made it – and indeed still makes it – work is that it remembers to be an RPG first, a match-3 game second. But like many RPGs, the emphasis of the game is on the fighting, so the core of what you do is match-3. Does that make sense? Ah well. The point is, it doesn’t feel like a Bejeweled clone with a bit more story attached. It feels like a complete game, that has a Bejeweled-inspired combat system. As you match your 3s, 4s and so on, you’re gathering mana to cast spells, and attempting to match tiles that wound your opponent. The further you get, the more spells you can acquire, and the more complex battling becomes.

There are different classes to pick at the start, which offers a different selection of special abilities, subtly changing how you’ll approach fights. And different enemy types need to be combated in different ways. Along your journey you’ll also encounter other puzzle types using the tiles, and eventually be taming enemies as pets, riding into battle on the backs of giant rats, and saving princes and princesses from baddies. It’s daft, but it’s also enormous, meaning there’s so much to do and so many excuses to be back at that match-3 screen, playing more tactically than the genre usually suggests.

Notes:

The game is set in Steve Fawkner’s Warlords universe, first appearing in 1989, with the last game in the core series, Warlords IV, coming out in 2003.

The most recent Puzzle Quest carries a Marvel License, and despite looking like it’ll be balls, actually gets quite good.

Where can I buy it:

Steam

What else should I be playing if I like this:

As we previously mentioned, 10,000,000 offers a delightful stripped down version of this style of game. And take a look at Ironcast, which pits steampunk mechbots in match-3 battles.

Read more:

Here’s Tom “Tom Bramwell” Bramwell’s review for Eurogamer.

3: Hexcells Infinite

Developer: Matthew Brown

Publisher: Matthew Brown

It’s really hard to overstate just how good Hexcells is. 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. It’s that strong.

For everyone else, let me put it another: it’s so bloody clever. A screen of yellow hexagon tiles, with scant information about which need to be turned blue, and which need to be destroyed. Your task is to figure out which are which, in a manner that’s most easily compared to the joys of Picross, but with the logic of Minesweeper.

But wait, come back – while there are some fair Minesweeper comparisons, they are few, and the game is in fact almost nothing like that atrocious piece of crap luckfest. This is a meticulous, deeply intelligent puzzle game, demanding you stretch yourself, constantly learning new tricks, new techniques for fathoming available moves.

The first Hexcells was a revelation for me. As a Picross, Kakuro and Slitherlink devotee, it was like being given the greatest puzzle present of all time – a new approach to logic puzzling, that can’t work on paper (since deleted cells can reveal new information), that is tougher than my other puzzling addictions. When Hexcells Plus appeared, offering another huge pile of puzzles, this time picking up the difficulty where the first left off, I was in Puzzle Heaven. The second game introduces more complicated instructions, new ways to learn which tiles can be painted or removed, and made thing so much deeper. But I’ve picked Hexcells Infinite here, because it’s this third and final game in the series that refines the puzzles to their absolute peak. It introduces no new rules, but forces you to be even more inventive and think even deeper about how to apply them to succeed. Oh, and it has a puzzle generator that will offer you the small matter of 10 million more puzzles to play once you’ve finished the curated collection.

It’s certainly worth playing all three, and starting at the start, and you can get the lot for £6. It’s simply the finest logic puzzle game to have appeared on a computer.

Notes:

A fan-made editor allows you to make your own Hexcell levels, which Matthew Brown endorses, and is integrating into the game.

Where can I buy it:

Developer’s site, Steam

What else should I be playing if I like this:

You could take a look at Matthew Brown’s music puzzler Sentinel. Also, if you’ve an original Nintendo DS, definitely get hold of HudsonSoft’s Slitherlink – it’s utter perfection.

Read more:

John has obsessively covered the series for two years.

This is an extraordinary guide to every puzzle in painstaking detail.

2: Portal

Developer: Valve

Publisher: Valve

Well, it was going to be no. 1 or 2, wasn’t it? And how could it not be? Valve’s sublime first-person puzzle game that broke the laws of physics, made us fall in love with an inanimate cube, and had everyone making stupid jokes about cakes and lies for a year afterward. And that song.

Famously born from a student project called Narbacular Drop, the Portal team was staffed with those students, led by Kim Swift, and with writing from Eric Wolpaw. The result was something utterly astonishing.

Even more remarkable to reflect upon today, it wasn’t even given its own distinct release. Portal arrived via Valve’s Orange Box, the ‘other’ game alongside the hugely anticipated Half-Life 2: Episode Two and Team Fortress 2. About three hours long, with no pedigree, it was almost like the bonus freebie chucked in. But despite the obvious massive success of the other two components, it was Portal that would leave the deepest impression on the world of videogames.

Fire one portal on a surface, a second on another, then walk through one to appear out of the other. Now apply that to so many inventive puzzles, while being berated by a detached, cruel robotic voice, sarcastically criticising your attempts.

We’ve picked Portal rather than Portal 2, about which there is certainly room for good argument. Portal 2 is a much larger and even funnier game, with multiple characters, menacing potatoes, and new puzzle types with magic paints. It’s absolutely, unquestionably, an incredible game. But there’s something that just feels more special about the original. It’s so perfect, so neatly contained, the exact right length for what it wants to be, with it’s amazing mid-point twist and sense of powerful escape. And yes, oh yes, that song. That amazing song.

Notes:

The students behind Narbacular Drop were invited to Valve HQ without knowing why. On arrival, they were all offered jobs on the spot.

Anyone who still makes “the cake is a lie” jokes today can be given an immediate fine of up to $1000, and even face jail time.

Where can I buy it:

Steam

What else should I be playing if I like this:

Clearly Portal 2, but you should also check out Portal: The Flash Version for a very smart 2D interpretation.

Read more:

Our interview with Portal creators Kim Swift and Jeep Barnett.

How John went mad and painted his freezer like a companion cube.

Our review.

Page 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5Page 6Page 7Page 8
Please enable Javascript to view comments.

Comments are now closed. Go have a lie down, Internet.

Advertisement

Latest videos