Puzzle games are a genre of video games that emphasize puzzle solving. The genre can be traced back to the early days of video gaming, with games such as Pac-Man (1980) and Donkey Kong (1981) being early examples. The genre's popularity has waxed and waned over the years, but there has always been a strong core group of puzzle fans.
The 2010s have seen a renaissance for the puzzle game genre, with a new wave of critically acclaimed and commercially successful titles such as Tetris Effect (2018), Baba Is You (2019), and Untitled Goose Game (2019). In this article, we'll look at the top 10 puzzle games of all time, as chosen by the editors of Game Informer magazine.
1. Tetris (1984)
Tetris is one of the most influential and essential video games. It's also one of the simplest, with players having to fit falling tetrominoes into a horizontal playfield. The game's popularity is due partly to its addictive gameplay and portability; Tetris can be enjoyed on just about any platform, from dedicated handhelds to phones and tablets.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece of game design, and its puzzle-solving elements are a big part of that. The game's vast open world is full of secrets to discover, and many of the game's quests revolve around solving environmental puzzles. Whether it's working out how to reach a far-flung location or figuring out the correct order to activate a series of switches, Breath of the Wild's puzzles are always satisfying.
3. Portal (2007)
Portal is a first-person puzzle game that challenges players to navigate a series of increasingly difficult test chambers. The game's unique selling point is its portal gun, which allows players to create their doorways through space. This simple mechanic creates various fiendishly clever puzzles, with players scratching their heads for hours.
4. The Talos Principle (2014)
The Talos Principle is a first-person puzzle game with a philosophical bent. The game takes place in a simulated world and tasks players with solving a series of puzzles to progress. As players solve puzzles, they're also presented with a series of ethical and existential questions, forcing them to think about the nature of reality and its place in it.
5. Braid (2008)
Braid is a puzzle platformer that challenges players to navigate a series of increasingly difficult levels. The game's unique selling point is its time-manipulation mechanic, allowing players to rewind, fast-forward and pause time. This mechanic creates a series of fiendishly clever puzzles, with players stumped for hours.
6. The Witness (2016)
The Witness is a first-person puzzle game on an abandoned island; the game tasks players with solving a series of line puzzles that become more complex. The game's open-ended nature allows players to explore the island at their own pace and discover its many secrets.
7. Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988)
Super Mario Bros. 3 is a platforming classic, and its puzzle-solving elements are a big part of what makes it so unique. The game tasks players to guide Mario through increasingly difficult levels. Many of the game's challenges revolve around figuring out the correct way to reach the end goal. Whether working out the correct order to use Mario's new power-ups or figuring out how to reach a hidden bonus area, Super Mario Bros. 3's puzzles are always a joy to solve.
8. Monument Valley (2014)
Monument Valley is a puzzle game that guides the protagonist, Ida, through a series of Escher-esque levels. The game's unique selling point is its beautiful hand-drawn art style, which gives the game's puzzles an otherworldly feel. Whether it's working out how to rotate a series of platforms so that Ida can reach the exit or using optical illusions to reach new areas, Monument Valley's puzzles are always a joy to solve.
9. The Room (2012)
The Room is a puzzle game that tasks players with solving a series of increasingly tricky 3D puzzles. The game's unique selling point is its tactile puzzles, which require players to manipulate physical objects to solve them. Whether it's working out how to open a locked box or figuring out the correct sequence of moves to make to progress, The Room's puzzles are always a joy to solve.
10. World of Goo (2008)
World of Goo is a puzzle game that tasks players with building structures out of living goo balls. The game's unique selling point is its physics-based puzzles, which require players to use their knowledge of physics to solve them. Whether it's working out how to build a bridge so that the goo balls can reach the other side or figuring out how to use the goo balls' unique properties to reach new areas, World of Goo's puzzles are always a joy to solve.