Since the days of Tetris on Game Boy, puzzle games have provided a welcome break from the adrenaline-heavy world of shooters and action-oriented fare. Emphasizing design and mental acumen above twitch reflexes, puzzle challenge your creativity and problem-solving skills, providing eureka moments when you overcome particularly harrowing challenges.
Here’s a look at the best puzzle games available right now:
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developers: Compulsion Games
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC
You guide a scantily clad acrobat through a shadow world that appears to be an extension of the hyperactive imagination of a young girl coping with a difficult family life. Sultry and sly, the game tasks you to shift your perspective and make logical leaps to get past obstacles based on the fascinating visuals.
4. Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney
This crossover is neither Layton nor the best Ace Attorney game, but manages to stand above entries in both fan-favorite 3DS series for the unique ways it combines some of the most fascinating aspects of both games. You get the I.Q.-test style mental tests of Layton, interspersed with the deductive reasoning and command juggling of Ace Attorney. A well-written story keeps you coming back for more.
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Android, iOS
Without dialogue to explain what’s going on or text-based tutorials to give you hints, you’re left to trial and error to guide a silhouetted boy through a death trap-laden nightmarescape to rescue his sister. Haunting visuals and dastardly level design keeps you coming back obsessively until you complete the mesmerizing quest. If you like this game, try Playdead’s similarly-themed 2016 Xbox One creation, Inside.
2. Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Android, iOS
This World War I-set adventure tugs on your heartstrings as it takes you through vignettes of soldiers, nurses and ordinary citizens — and even their pets — as they struggle to survive during the tremendous upheaval of global conflict. You spend most of your time hunting for an item that a character needs, who in turn will give you something you need that you will use to unlock something that opens your path. You need to juggle contextual clues and have a sharp eye for detail to get by.
1. The Witness
Publisher: Thekla, Inc.
Developer: Thekla, Inc.
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, PC
From the innovative mind of Braid designer Jonathan Blow comes this sprawling connect-the-dots brain-teaser that forces you to rely on your instincts to solve increasingly maddening tasks. Leaving its themes and underlying ideologies up to interpretation, this think piece can have you scrambling for an hour to find the solution, giving you a triumphant feeling once you finally make the breakthrough.
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