At their core, all games are puzzles, from Tetris to the Uncharted series, the mystery medium has constantly challenged players to find solutions to problems, whether that problem is fitting the right blocks into a hole or navigating ancient booby traps. These riddle games can get overwhelming for players if they’re not made right. This can ruin the experience for many people who are just there to enjoy. So, Here, at Game Wrap, We’re going to break down the best 2021 puzzle games to enjoy your time.
For this guide, we’re focusing on pure puzzle games, meaning that solving puzzles is the core mechanic of the game. There’s no combat or other systems, unless they relate specifically to solving puzzles. You’re sure to enjoy these picks if you’re interested in this problem solving gaming genre.
Human Fall Flat is a co-op, physics-based puzzle game where you play as Bob. As Bob, you’re tasked with exploring various landscapes and solving puzzles along the way, with the only goal being to reach the exit. Thanks to the advanced physics engine, there are countless ways to solve puzzles.
You can take on the experience alone, but Human Fall Flat is best played with friends. The game features two-player couch co-op, as well as online multiplayer for up to eight players. Outside of solving puzzles, you can experiment with Human Fall Flat’s physics engine, too. Everything in the game world is up for grabs, allowing you to play and experiment to your heart’s content.
Syberia 3 is a graphic adventure video game developed by Microïds and published by Anuman for Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. It is the third entry of the Syberia series which follows the adventures of American lawyer Kate Walker as she travels across Siberia.
Syberia 3 is a game that truly benefits from its lavish graphical upgrades; Benoit Sokal’s vision takes flight here as his gorgeous drawings and paintings come to life with hitherto unmatched fidelity. The world through which Kate Walker learns and grows is one that bores like a tunnel through everything we think we know, a dreamscape that assembles the familiar into beautifully strange gardens.
In The Talos Principle, you play as a robot whose sole purpose is to solve increasingly difficult puzzles through a series of ancient ruins. At the beginning of the game, your creator, Elohim, tells you to explore the world it has created, but to not climb a certain tower at the center. As the game progresses, however, it’s clear that the beautiful environment you’re exploring isn’t all it seems to be.
The Talos Principle asks philosophical questions about artificial intelligence and the human conscience, with some seriously difficult puzzles along the way. It’s not as lighthearted as some of the other entries on this list, but for those looking to explore the questions of the world through the lens of a wonderfully designed video game, it doesn’t get much better than The Talos Principle.
Lara Croft Go is a spin off game from its respective series, and although it's different in its subject matter, the core gameplay is the same. There’s also Deus Ex Go and Hitman Go though it’s a little more convoluted than Lara Croft and Hitman. The main appeal of these games is that they’re simple, so we’re omitting Deus Ex and Hitman Go from this entry.
The Go games operate like a board game. You take control of a pawn, either Lara Croft or Agent 47, and you take turns moving to specified spaces within the level. Although simple in concept, where you move is important, as enemies and obstacles will try to obstruct your path. The Go games are all about finding patterns in how your opponents move and using those patterns to sneak your way to the end of a level.
Bridge Constructor Portal is a spinoff of the Bridge Constructor series set in the Portal universe. The gist of Bridge Constructor games is that you need to construct a bridge. Using braces, pillars, and platforms, your goal is to move vehicles from one side of the screen to the other. Although simple in the early levels, Bridge Constructor games quickly become difficult as you’re given less and less space to build your bridge.
The Portal spinoff is even better, though. Although the premise is the same, this entry adds portals, light bridges, and more, bringing a new level of depth to the series. Furthermore, Portal features a level editor, offering hundreds of hours of playtime through community-made stages.
It is 1934, in the far reaches of the South Pacific. Norah has crossed the ocean following the trail of her missing husband’s expedition and finds herself on a lush island paradise - a nameless, forgotten place, dotted with the remnants of a lost civilization.
Great puzzle games not only consist of lots of small challenges to overcome along the way, but one overarching mystery to uncover on your journey. The stunning island setting of Call of the Sea does exactly this as you’re led through each of its distinct areas, gradually revealing the answers to an engrossing story full to the brim with beauty and darkness. Thanks to engaging Myst-style puzzles and an emotionally captivating story, it’s easily one of the best adventures you’ll have embarked on this year.
Paradise Killer asks you to solve a murder. And no, you're not just going from point A to point B, picking up the requisite number of clues and evidence until a murderer is presented to you. Your job, as Lady Love Dies, is to solve a murder completely on your own. As soon as the world opens up, you're able to freely accuse anyone of the central crime that kicks off your investigation so long as you have the evidence to back it up.
Sure, you can go in with no evidence and point your finger at anyone, but that's not very professional of you. No, Paradise Killer is a full-throated mystery game that tests your skills of deduction. No holding hands, no slow march towards a pre-ordained conclusion. The mystery is yours, and yours alone to solve, and the only thing standing between you and the killer is your own abilities. If you're up to the challenge, Paradise Killer is one of the best adventure mysteries of the year.
From Atlus, the creators of the Persona series, Catherine is a unique puzzle-dating sim hybrid. You play as Vincent Brooks, a 32-year-old systems engineer who’s been dodging marrying his longtime girlfriend, Katherine with a “K”. One late night, Vincent encounters Catherine, who’s the antithesis of his controlling girlfriend. After a one night stand, Vincent starts having terrifying dreams where he must outrun demons.
Of course, these dreams mirror the double-life Vincent is leading in reality, as he’s joined by other men who’ve fallen to infidelity. The dream sequences are where Catherine comes into its own, offering ruthlessly fast and mind-bending puzzles built on the simple premise of moving blocks.
The Witness is a puzzle game where you wake up alone on an island with nothing but a few head-scratchers — around 500 — to guide your path. For the most part, the puzzles you’ll encounter will feature lines, and you must move from the start to the end of a grid, touching all of the relevant points on that grid.
Those line puzzles work in tandem with environmental puzzles, allowing you to progress further through the island. Along the way, you pick up clues as to who you are and how you got stranded on the island. The game is simple on its face, with expertly designed puzzles and beautiful environments. That said, the secrets of the mysterious island you’re on are the most intriguing parts of the game.
The two Portal games are some of the best games ever made, but when comparing the two directly, it’s clear that the sequel has the edge. Longer than its predecessor, Portal 2 fleshes out the world of Aperture Science, adding more puzzles, a refined narrative, and loads of interesting set pieces. Even with the new additions, though, the core of Portal 2 remains the same.
After playing Portal 2, the original game feels more like a tech demo. The concept of using portals to get around a test chamber is still present in this second entry, but the addition of gels, platforms, and other unique puzzle mechanics makes the game feel larger and more challenging.