The great thing about video games is that they can serve many different purposes. There are sports games, action games, and of course, the puzzle game.

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Puzzle games can come in many different forms and encompass many different things. They can have stories and characters as well as a wide variety of challenges. They can be in first person, third person, or have a completely different format entirely, which makes their appeal wide ranging.

10) Puzzle Bobble 4 (1997)

Two players battle it out in 'Puzzle Bobble 4', Taito

Two players battle it out in ‘Puzzle Bobble 4’ (1997), Taito

Bubble Bobble is considered an arcade classic, but Taito took it to another level with a puzzle game featuring highly addictive gameplay and cute atmosphere. Puzzle Bobble 4 is arguably the best installment of the series, capitalizing on the tweaks to the rather straightforward play mechanics and presentation of past titles.

The objective is to wipe the board clean by firing colored bubbles from an mechanism that rotates nearly 180 degrees. Players can fire directly at bubbles, or bounce them off the sides of the board to achieve the right trajectory. It’s fun and simple to play, yet requires a lot of skill to master. 

9) Myst (1993)

One of the puzzle elements in 'Myst', Broderbund

One of the puzzle elements in ‘Myst’ (1993), Broderbund

Few games have as much iconography and pedigree as Myst, even if its outdated play mechanics and low res visuals haven’t aged well. Myst represented a shift in puzzle games by introducing what, at the time, was a simulated 3D world that relied heavily on atmosphere to pull its players in.

And pull them in it did, making Myst one of the most popular games of its era. It also opened the doors for non-video gamers to take a stab at the hobby, particularly girls, as well as parents who felt intrigued by the pacing, the fantasy world, and of course, the brain-crunching puzzles. 

8) Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (1996)

Ryu battles Chun-Li in 'Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo', Capcom

Ryu battles Chun-Li in ‘Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo’ (1996), Capcom

Capcom is best known for its extensive roster of fighting game characters, but when they incorporated them into a block-based puzzle game way back in 1996, it became an instant classic unto itself. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo was a quirky parody of its back catalogue, pitting fighters from several series against each other.

Both single and 2-player modes were equally fun as gamers were tasked with stacking colored blocks on top of one another to pull off bone-shattering combos, while racking up some serious points. It’s been a staple of the puzzle genre for the last 2+ decades, yet fans are still waiting for a bona fide console-based sequel. 

7) The Talos Principle (2014)

A wide shot of one of the puzzles from 'The Talos Principle', Croteam

A wide shot of one of the puzzles from ‘The Talos Principle’ (2014), Croteam

Few games manage to speak so little, yet say so much, while still delivering challenging puzzles that tickle both hemispheres of the brain. The Talos Principle takes place in what appears to be a future world where players must utilize tools to solve a number of intricate puzzles, while cluing in on details regarding their surrounding world.

It’s a remarkably clever game in the fact that its first few puzzles are easy to solve, yet ramp up in difficulty as the player progresses. This makes it accessible to newcomers, while grooming them for the challenges yet to come. 

6) Relicta (2020)

A player explores Chandra Base in ‘Relicta’ (2020), Ravenscourt

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Relicta is a game where players have to control gravity and magnetism in order to traverse a base located on a strange alien planet. The puzzles can be quite expansive, and require a lot of thought in order to figure out the order of what to do next.

The story of Relicta is that an alien consciousness has infested the player’s brain. It’s a fairly inconsequential premise, but it does allow the player to make a choice as to what ending they desire.

5) Dr. Mario (1990)

Mario kills viruses with pills in 'Dr. Mario,' Nintendo

Mario kills viruses with pills in ‘Dr. Mario’ (1990), Nintendo

Few puzzle games are as addictive as Dr. Mario, a crazy NES title featuring the company’s popular mascot as a doctor trying to eradicate viruses using a combination of pills, Tetris-style. Ironically, the graphics and irritating music were nothing to write home about, but it didn’t matter. Dr. Mario had it where it counted.

2-player mode was especially fun as gamers attempted to thwart one another’s quest to clear the board of viruses. That was just half the fun, while the other half involved frantically trying to get ones self out of a jam due to improper pill placement. 

4) The Witness (2016)

One of the many puzzles in ‘The Witness’ (2016), Thekla Inc.

It’s hard to think of a puzzle game that is as wide in scope as The Witness. Players have to traverse an enormous island and solve a series of puzzles in order to access new areas, each more creative than the last.

There is a story and history of the island to uncover, but it’s largely left up to the player to find of their own. Although the design of the puzzles is straightforward, solving them is anything but, making The Witness one of the more difficult puzzle games out there

3) Tetris (1984)

Classic gameplay from ‘Tetris’ (1984), Alexey Pajitnov

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Tetris is one of the most iconic and enduring puzzle games ever invented, and a testament to how addictive they can be. Created in 1984 by computer engineer Alexey Pajitnov, the game was an instant success, spawning tons of sequels spanning a multitude of consoles and mobile platforms.

At its heart, Tetris is simplistic, but its challenging gameplay makes it one of the most sought after puzzle games around. It became a smash hit on Nintendo’s GameBoy console, where it achieved its widest reach, becoming a tentpole video game title in the process. 

2) Quantum Conundrum (2012)

One of the puzzles in ‘Quantum Conundrum’ (2012), Airtight Games

Quantum Conundrum is a very fun and goofy light-hearted puzzle game. It’s stylized like a first-person shooter, except the game mechanics that it messes with vary as the player needs to manipulate different types of physics.

There’s a story, too, as the player is the nephew of a kooky scientist. The object is to make it through the scientist’s lab and mansion in order to find him and help him with his crazy experiments.

1) Portal 2 (2011)

Split image of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Portal 2 and The Witness

Split image of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Portal 2 and The Witness

The original Portal was a relatively short game with a great story. It was such a fan favorite that the sequel completely exploded in scope and story, creating a full fledged universe and a truly memorable villain. 

The puzzles were both fun, and challenging, yet made novel through the updated use of the portal gun, which gave players access to a level of gameplay never before glimpsed in a video game. The original may have set the tone, but Portal 2 perfected the formula.

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