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Best Puzzle Games

The Community Votes: Best Puzzle Games

Our brain needs stimulation from time to time, and puzzle-based games can meet your needs in a matter of minutes. Some encounters in the following games have easy solutions that allow you to quickly move on to another area; other challenges will make you think critically for 10 or 20 minutes. In either case, the Tom’s Hardware community enjoyed a plethora of these games, and your votes allowed us to create a list of the best puzzle titles of all time.

Once you're done perusing the list, you can meet other members of the Tom's Hardware gaming community by joining our Steam group and contributing to the Curator feed.


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15: ‘Syberia’

Microids’ 2002 game put you in the shoes of Kate Walker, a lawyer charged with delivering legal documents to Hans Voralberg, the owner of a toy factory. Throughout your journey, you’ll have to solve multiple puzzles, which usually consist of multiple gears, levers, and keys. This theme of clockwork mechanics seems to also tie into the types of toys created at the factory. As you pass each challenge and progress through the story, you’ll find out more about Hans and his obsession with mammoths.

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14: ‘The Neverhood’

As Klaymen, you’ll explore the world of the Neverhood while also collecting multiple discs. However, there are many puzzles between you and your next objective. Some examples include matching identical symbols on a large grid, guiding a mouse to a piece of cheese, or spitting in a few pipes in order to create the right sound to open a door. Unlike most titles, The Neverhood was presented through claymation, which makes it one of the most unique gameplay experiences to date. Just make sure you take a break from playing if you’re frustrated by a specific problem.

Photo by Doug TenNapel, used with permission.

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13: ‘Limbo’

Playdead’s grayscale-toned title seems to include the usual tropes of 2D platforming games. However, the latter half of the story gives way to some interesting puzzles. Some of the problems presented are easy at first, such as using a two-way elevator to transport a box. However, there are a few conundrums that require you to spend more than a few minutes to solve them. In one instance, for example, you have to change the gravitational field of the area so that you can successfully open the door and move on to the next level.

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12: ‘Riven’

Instead of traveling to multiple worlds, you have to explore different islands in the Age of Riven. The sequel to Myst built on the features introduced in the first game, which meant that fans had to deal with even more intricate puzzles as they explored the islands. You’ll still have to deal with the occasional button or switch to progress to another area, but you need to carefully observe your surroundings. The answer to a nearby puzzle could be right in front of you.

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11: ‘Antichamber’

In addition to being a visual mind trip, Antichamber is perhaps one of the most unique puzzle games on this list. As you explore the many hallways within the game, you’ll notice rooms of different colors and guns that can aid you in your journey. There are also some specific ways to access different parts of the visual labyrinth. For instance, you might have to walk backwards to enter a new area, or have to look through a pattern on the wall to change your surroundings to get access to another node. There’s even one hallway where you have to look up so you don’t fall down a deep pit.

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10: ‘Scribblenauts Unlimited’

As usual, you play as Maxwell, who must once again collect Starites. The 2012 title separates itself from its predecessors due to the features available to you when summoning items to solve puzzles. You can now have multiple options to choose from when searching an object and the addition of adjectives from Super Scribblenauts means that you can alter an object’s attributes such as size and color. This opens the door for more complicated puzzles, which means that you’ll have to think outside of the box in order get a Starite or one of its smaller shards.

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9: ‘The 7th Guest’

Trilobyte invited players to explore a mansion. In the process, you will confront multiple ghosts, all of whom will slowly reveal more information about your mysterious surroundings. However, you’ll need to complete many puzzles to get the full story of the mansion and its inhabitants. Some puzzles are easy, such as cutting a cake into even portions, but there are a few that will make you scratch your head. For instance, you have to move two sets of bishops to opposite ends of the board or click on the correct series of bricks to move from point A to B. If you’re stuck on a particular puzzle, you can always consult a book in the library level.

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8: ‘Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes’

Challenges in this game come in the form of Battle Puzzles, which will test your tactical skills. With the units provided, you’ll need to take out all the enemies within one turn, which is quite a challenge. You might need to move your soldiers around and combine them as a group in order to strengthen one of your tougher allies. There are also walls that stand between you and the enemy, and you’ll have to destroy them before you can deal damage to opposing units. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll solve one of these puzzles on the first attempt, but figuring out the best strategy for each encounter is an exciting challenge.

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7: ‘The Talos Principle’

You take control of a robot with human-like tendencies and your sole objective is to explore the world created by the mysterious Elohim. In order to access other areas, you will need to collect a specific number of Tetris-shaped blocks, which you can obtain by completing puzzles. You’ll need to use crystal-based props, switches, blocks, and fans to bypass numerous energy shields that bar your progress. These puzzles increase in difficulty over time, which provides a constant challenge as you continue to explore the mystery behind Elohim’s creations.

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6: ‘Grim Fandango’

In 1998, LucasArts released Grim Fandango, and it received high praise for its story, which centered on Manny and his adventure throughout the Underworld. Progressing through the story meant that you had to solve numerous puzzles. Some of the switches and knobs used in these encounters are not always visible at first glance, but Manny's movement can show you some of the interactive objects available in each area. If you need more help, you can always talk to other characters or simply look up the solution on YouTube.

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  • Bob_8_
    Rust is a great Puzzle Game -- Where is my House? It was here yesterday,.,.and why am I naked,.?
    Reply
  • rich_pope
    Tetris? KLAX?
    Reply
  • topheron
    Opus Magnum?
    Reply
  • Dugimodo
    Rescue Rover and the Incredible machine, old school.
    Reply
  • Kepalajamuran
    Syberia: too slow for today's taste.
    Antichamber: great stuff. I think i get brain cancer from playing this game.
    Scribblenauts: fantastic game. It makes me realize that I'm not a creative person.
    The Witness: gets bored because the lack of story.
    Talos principle: the philosophy theme is cringey.
    Reply
  • shrapnel_indie
    Interesting lineup. How many are even still playable on today's hardware and the latest Windows?
    Reply
  • Martell1977
    I play "The 7th Guest" often. I bought it from GOG.com and was a great investment. There is still the microscope puzzle bug, but that is avoidable by having the library book solve it for you.
    Though not as popular, I'm surprised that it's sequel "The 11th Hour" didn't get at least a mention.
    T7G was unique and I wish a company like Blizzard would get the rights and remake it.
    Reply
  • WyomingKnott
    I recently played Grim Fandango with my daughter. My impression was that some of the solutions are so outre and make so little sense that one could play for weeks without finding them. Beyond my patience level.

    Some of the Leisure Suit Larry games also required a community effort, but we had a lot of fun trading solutions back and forth and most of them made sense. Well, there were those D cell batteries...
    Reply