10 best puzzle games of the 2010s

These puzzle experiences vary from tense and challenging to cheery and fun (Images via Microsoft Game Studios/Panic)
These puzzle experiences vary from tense and challenging to cheery and fun (Images via Microsoft Game Studios/Panic)

Open-world games, first-person shooters, role-playing games etc continue to dominate the video game industry. However, smaller genres have also been thriving alongside them, with puzzle games being one such popular category.

They have been surprisingly consistent throughout the years, despite how niche they are. In fact, the 2010s has had its share of iconic entries in the genre. Given how vast the variety in the gaming scene is, it is understandable how some genres are more popular than others.

Revisit these iconic puzzle games for ageless brainteasers

1) Limbo (2010)


Originally released for the Xbox 360 by Microsoft Game Studios, Limbo is now one of the most recognizable indie games out there. Developer Playdead's debut title is a horror puzzle-platformer set in a dark world. This is to be taken literally, as characters and environments are presented in a black-and-white color tone. The adventure sees players navigate a nameless boy through a forest teeming with deadly creatures and traps. The boy must interact with the physics-driven puzzles to progress and run away from horrors that try to chase him down. Limbo is currently available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

2) Portal 2 (2011)


Valve's PC sequel to the universally acclaimed Portal (2007) expanded further upon the genius ideas and concepts introduced in the original. As Chell, players once again return to the Aperture Science facility, this time with an AI called Wheatley in tow. They must face off against the rogue GLaDOS in even more expansive puzzles, arenas, and set-pieces. The game's new mechanics spice up the portal-shooting gameplay and the writing is as iconic as ever.

Revisist this masterpiece via the Portal Companion Collection, which also includes the first Portal game. It is available on the Nintendo Switch.

3) FEZ (2012)


After a magical headdress (or fez, from the title) grants Gomez the power to shift dimensions, he embarks on an exciting adventure. At the press of a button, players can rotate the camera between 4 faces, which gives the 2D visuals an interesting 3D effect. This mechanic is used throughout for genius platforming and puzzle solving opportunities. FEZ was developed by Polytron Corporation and published by Trapdoor. This fun game is available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

4) Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (2013)


One of the most underappreciated co-op games of the past decade, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons from Starbreeze Studios offers a dynamic that very few games have been able to replicate. The game's two brothers must head out on a perilous journey through a fantasy realm to find a cure for their father's illness. The unique element here is that it is a single-player co-op game, meaning one player controls both characters simultaneously. Various puzzles are also created around this concept and it can take some time to get used to. The game is available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC courtesy, of 505 Games. Readers must note that the actual two-player co-op is only offered in the Switch version of the game.

5) The Talos Principle (2014)


Inspired by mythologies and philosophy, Croteam's first foray into the puzzle space is an unforgettable one. Play as an entity in a virtual realm tasked with solving puzzles by an unseen voice who calls himself Elohim. These challenges are set across various areas, from Egyptian deserts to Roman ruins. They range from simple switch and light beam puzzles, to ruthless ones that utilize more advanced mechanics like digital clones and lethal patrolling mines. On top of that, add in optional challenges, collectibles, and a sci-fi storyline that will make players stop in their tracks to ponder. The Talos Principle is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

6) Volume (2015)


From the creator of the phenomenal Thomas Was Alone comes 2015's Volume. Developed by Bithell Games, it is a sound-based stealth puzzle game set across 100 levels. Each one is a room involving colectibles to find and enemy AI to bamboozle. Various gadgets can be used to avoid detection and further replayability is introduced with a level creator. Volume is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and PC.

7) The Witness (2016)


One of the more unique games on this list, Thekla Inc's The Witness is a game no puzzle game fan should miss out on. Play as an unnamed character who finds themselves on a mysterious island. The lush, colorful environment is chock-full of panels with line-based puzzles. Each features a unique twist that players must figure out themselves. These often involve logical, mathematical, or perspective-based interactions and solutions that ramp up in difficulty to borderline cryptic. The Witness is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

8) The Sexy Brutale (2017)


Cavalier Game Studios and Tequila Works came together for The Sexy Brutale, first released in 2017. Explore a mansion as Lafcadio Boone, only to discover that it has been stuck in a time loop with its denizens being killed off. As such, players are granted a magical mask and must catch the perpetrator before each guest is killed. The gameplay sees players run around various rooms and investigate scenes to figure out ways to stop the murders while also trying to not arouse suspicion. The Sexy Brutale is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

9) Return of the Obra Dinn (2018)


The critically acclaimed Return of the Obra Dinn by Lucas Pope is one of the most memorable puzzle games in recent memory. Taking place in the early 1800s, players must assume the role of an inspector for the East India Company. A missing ghost ship named the Obra Dinn has resurfaced on the coast of England and must be investigated. The visuals are inspired by early Macintosh games and the first-person gameplay sees players explore the vessel with a watch called Memento Mortem. Allowing the user to witness a corpse's final moments of death, it must be used to find out how the crew was killed.

The game won several awards, including Best Game Design at the BAFTA Awards. Return of the Obra Dinn is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

10) Untitled Goose Game (2019)


One of the most meme'd about games thus far, developer House House's Untitled Goose Game is a charming sandbox puzzle adventure. Granting players command of a mischievous goose, it is all about being a menace to the small village that players find themselves in. Each level takes place in a different area and poses varying objectives, from stealing objects to manipulating humans by interacting with the environment. In a design almost mimicking IO Interactive's Hitman series, there are stealth elements as the goose sneakily slips by unaware NPCs and performs optional objectives. Untitled Goose Game is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

This article reflects the personal views of the author.

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Edited by Atul S
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