While more mainstream developers work feverishly on ways to one-up their last huge release, many indie houses are churning out well-wrought puzzle games to fill in their catalogue and keep fans entertained.
Modern puzzle games owe much of their popularity to old-school brain teasers (often found in magazines and soft-cover books) and physical jigsaw puzzles. As video games grew in popularity during the early 1980s, puzzles found their way into the mix, too.
Tetris, released by Nintendo in 1989 is often cited as the grandaddy of all puzzle games and introduced an entire generation (or three!) to the concept of brain-based challenges that didn’t require Link’s sword or Mario’s super hops.
Now, a slicker, newer breed of puzzle games, that go beyond the block-based building schematics of Tetris or the smash-and-fly tactics of Angry Birds is emerging. Here are three top picks for players looking to challenge their grey matter with a little fun and a lot of cool design.
Cat Goes Fishing
Innocuous and a little child-like in its color palette and animation, Cat Goes Fishing is nonetheless an engaging and challenging iteration of a modern puzzle game. Relying on physics to assist your casting, players work to catch special fish to earn rewards–better fishing spots, better gear, even hats and boats!
Developed by Cat5Games, Cat Goes Fishing is available on Steam, where it’s garnered a whole host of ‘very positive’ reviews.
An art masterpiece, Monument Valley is all about spatial awareness and architecture. Users have commented that the game is less about fitting pieces here and there and more about unlocking the ability to explore the various worlds built by developer Ustwo.
Users play as Princess Ida, who moves through a simple, largely uninhabited world which quickly progresses to more difficult challenges and environments. The 10 levels draw heavily from M.C. Escher, whose famous artwork bends both physics and imagination.
The Talos Principle
A hybrid puzzle/action game from developers Devolver Digital, The Talos Principle is heralded as “a philosophical first-person puzzle game” that lands players in a conflicting world of both ancient ruins and future technology.
Featuring more than 120 puzzles, players move through the Talos world directed by a task master, who you either choose to follow blindly or you question, all while seeking to understand more about who “you” are as a character in the game.
More Puzzles, Please
Big names aren’t going anywhere and gamers are always going to love high-end visual effects coupled with deep, well-written narratives; it’s part of the escapism video game players seek when purchasing new games.
But if the rise in both popularity and sophistication of the new class of puzzle games are any indication, brain-tickling indie games are here to stay…and the possibilities for where developers can take them are endless.
What are some of your favorite modern puzzle games?