8 Awesome Puzzle Games for National Puzzle Day

January 29 is National Puzzle Day, and there’s no better way to celebrate than to play some of the best puzzle games of all time. Not sure what those are? No worries! We’ve got you covered with this list of eight of the very best.

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Really, any of the Professor Layton titles could be on this list. They’re all jam-packed with puzzles that range from distracting to sadistic. Luckily, there’s a robust hint system and a nicely designed workspace to use to figure them all out. In Unwound Future, you get the added bonus of travelling through time to save the British Prime Minister – always a worthwhile way to spend an afternoon.

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Intelligent Qube

This block-removal puzzler first hit PlayStation in 1997. It gameplay seemed basic at first glance, but that disguised the complexity that lay beneath. The player spawned on a platform made of cubes. Rows of cubes in front of the player would rise up, and then begin to move toward him. The objective was to clear all the blocks (except the black ones!) by marking a spot on the platform and deactivating that spot as a cube rolled over it. Falling off the platform or getting hit by a block would end the game. It was a title that embodied the “one more try” mentality of many puzzle games.


This M.C. Escher-inspired title gave players control of a mannequin and tasked them with getting to various points on the surface of any number of three-dimensional shapes. At first, some of the locations seen unreachable, but then you learn that the entire game is based on perspective. So if you rotate the camera to where it looks like you could walk across something, you can. In short, it’s a three-dimensional world that actually plays by two-dimensional rules. You can find this one on the PlayStation Store for PS3.


Honestly, Tetris is the original blockbuster puzzle game. First released in 1984, the falling-blocks game is another example of simple to learn, but difficult to master. All you need to do is to fit the randomly-ordered tetrominoes into full rows across the screen. As a row is completed, it vanishes, allowing the blocks above to fall to the bottom. The game ends when a set number of rows are cleared, or the player runs out of screen real estate. First released in 1984, it was the first game exported from the USSR to the US, and has appeared on almost every console and PC variant since its release. It’s also on portable media players, smart phones, and more. In December of 2014, Tetris Ultimate was released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The Talos Principle

You’re a robot. You have what seems to be a human consciousness inside you, and you’re exploring a world filled with puzzles to solve and areas to explore. If that doesn’t sound familiar. then you haven’t played 2014’s best puzzle game, The Talos Principle. As the aforementioned robot, you’ll scour mazes in search of “sigils.” Along the way, you’ll have to avoid drones, turrets, and other obstacles that are looking to kill you and reset the puzzle. As you progress, more elements will be added, including fans to blow you around the level and mirrors that are used to activate switches using light. It was a major departure from Croteam’s Serious Sam offerings, but it was a very successful one.


Lemmings tasks players with guiding a group of human-like lemmings around a preset map to overcome obstacle and reach an exit. To do this, you’ll have to assign a limited number of skills to to the lemmings that allow them to alter the landscape, direct other lemmings, or clear obstacle. Lemmings would walk in one direction, including right a ledge if there’s nothing to stop them, and would turn and go the opposite direction if they hit an obstacle. Pausing the game to examine the level was an option, but you couldn’t assign any skills except in real-time. Lemmings was a frustrating masterpiece, and the joy of finally figuring out a level was quickly snuffed by the next level’s challenge.

Dr. Mario

At first glance, you might dismiss Dr. Mario as a Tetris clone, but that impression quickly vanishes once you play it. Shapes are less important than colors, and matching colors clears blocks from the board. Also, there is no time limit to complete a level, but faster completion will earn more points. The loss condition is instead the player running out of room on the medicine bottle-shaped playing field. Dr. Mario also appeared later as a secret character in Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Portal 2

There was never really any doubt what would be here, right? Portal 2 (and Portal before it)revolutionized puzzle games, proving that you could have great puzzles, a great story, and some amazing characters all in the same game. GLaDOS is one of the most memorable antagonists from any game in recent memory, and the Stephen Merchant-voiced Wheatley is the perfect bumbling sidekick gone mad with power. All in all, it’s one of the best puzzle games of all time, cementing its place on this list.

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