10 of the Best iOS Puzzle Games

From Tetris clones to word games, these brain teasers will challenge you

For modern puzzle fans, few resources are quite as ready, willing, and able to challenge the problem-solving side of our brains as our iOS devices. With the vast selection of puzzle games to choose from in the App Store, it's sometimes hard to not feel paralyzed by choice. If you're new to iOS or you're just looking for a gem you missed, here are 10 puzzle games you'll want to try next on your iPhone or iPad.

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1010! iPhone iPad puzzle game
What We Like
  • Enjoyable, slightly less frantic pace than Tetris.

  • Simple and appealing design.

  • Addictive gameplay.

What We Don't Like
  • Free, but with ads. These can be removed for a fee.

  • Shares data about you with advertisers.

  • Occasional crashes.

Tetris is the granddaddy of all video game puzzles and it has enough intrigue around its inception to warrant an HBO miniseries. Even after all these years, it's rare to find a new game that plays with the idea of Tetris while making something unique. 1010! accomplishes this seemingly impossible feat.

A less panicked game than its loose inspiration, 1010! challenges players to position Tetris-style shapes in a 10x10 grid. If you form a complete line, that line disappears and creates more space, which you use to make more lines.

Don't let the slow pace and careful placement of 1010! fool you. Without practice, you can quickly find yourself drained of possible moves and rushing headfirst into a game over.

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Monument Valley 1 & 2

Monument Valleyscreens
What We Like
  • Beautiful game visuals.

  • Expansions to continue gameplay.

  • Challenging and surprising puzzles.

What We Don't Like
  • Storyline is simple and not very deep.

  • Too short.

  • Sequel is an incremental improvement over the original.

If you like puzzle games that are dripping with style, substance, and a sense of discovery, Monument Valley has everything you're looking for. This Escher-inspired puzzle tells the story of Ida, a princess in a world of impossible geometry. You explore and discover her world as she does, guiding her through stairwells and doorways as you poke, prod, and move the environment to help her progress.

Monument Valley is a thing of beauty that tells its story without words. Maybe that's why it's taken home awards such as the BAFTA Award for Mobile & Handheld Games, the Apple Design Award, and the IMGA Grand Prix prize.

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Pair Solitaire

Solitaire Pair on the iPhone or iPad.
What We Like
  • Simple gameplay, but requires strategy.

  • Free (with in-game purchases).

  • Attractive card designs.

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks any music for atmosphere.

  • Ad volume can be loud.

  • Lacks overall polish.

If it seems strange to see a card game included in a list of great puzzle games, that's because you haven't played Pair Solitaire yet. The debut release from Vitaly Zlotskiy, who also released Domino Drop, Pair Solitaire asks players to do something seemingly simple: match pairs of cards.

The challenge comes from having to match pairs that are separated by just one card, and such matches only remove one of the cards in the pair. So if you have two hearts, you only remove the one you touch. If you have two kings, it's the same story. The goal is to clear as many cards from a standard deck of 52 as possible before you run out of moves. 

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Play the puzzle game, Prune, on your iPhone and iPad.
What We Like
  • Visually gorgeous.

  • Unique puzzle gameplay.

  • Sync games between devices to continue play.

What We Don't Like
  • Not enough levels.

  • Later levels require action and aren't as zen-inspiring.

  • Making fine changes can be hard on small screens.

Are you looking for an experience that somehow manages to balance tranquility with progressive difficulty? If so, Prune is the tree-trimming puzzle that will help you find bliss. It's a game about helping tree branches grow and find sunlight so that they can flower as nature intended. To accomplish this, you neatly nip off new branches that are growing in the wrong direction and steer your tree around different obstacles.

Prune is both a puzzle game and a bonsai tree. How very zen.

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The Room (Series)

The Room iPhone iPad puzzle game

Fireproof Games

What We Like
  • Very atmospheric with great music.

  • High-quality visuals.

  • Intuitive but challenging gameplay and puzzles.

What We Don't Like
  • Replayability is limited; once you complete it, there's not much reason to repeat it.

  • Story is secondary to the game.

  • Controls can be fussy.

The Room is a series that tasks where players explore elaborate puzzle boxes that can only be opened by switches, levers, and unseen mechanisms hidden behind intricate brain teasers. You'll be surprised at how many secrets one box can hold. Each one requires a variety of solutions to open it and advance the spooky narrative. The Room is a head-scratcher that requires plenty of logic and "a-ha!" moments to complete.

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Play Rules! on the iPhone or iPad.
What We Like
  • Three game mode difficulties.

  • Clever and engaging memory game.

  • Great visual design and quality.

What We Don't Like
  • Memory intensive gameplay may not be enjoyable for some.

  • Time limits are frustrating.

The name gives it away, but Rules! is a game about following the rules — all the rules — in the order you received them, only in reverse. If it's starting to sound complicated, that's because it is.

Rules! tests your memory and speed in a way no other app does. Each round asks you to clear certain tiles using a specific rule, and then the following round asks you to do the same and introduces a new rule. You'll need to remember all of the rules in reverse order if you want to see your way to the end.

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Scribblenauts Remix

scribblenauts remix iphone ipad game
Warner Bros.
What We Like
  • Good game for kids.

  • Word Pass in-app purchase expands puzzles to 140.

  • Vocabulary builder.

  • Clues help when you're stuck.

What We Don't Like
  • Combines content from previous two games.

  • Make in-app purchases to expand the game and add avatars.

  • Outside-the-box thinking can make puzzles too easy.

A game where the only limit is your imagination, Scribblenauts Remix asks players to dream up their own solutions to 50 puzzles pulled from the best levels of Scribblenauts and Super Scribblenauts. The Word Pass upgrade (which requires an in-app purchase) increases the number of levels to more than 140.

Wondering what an imagination-based puzzle looks like? Imagine you need to get a star down from a tree. You could give your avatar an ax to chop the tree down or a ladder to climb to the top. If you can think it, and you can type it, Scribblenauts Remix can make it come true.

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Threes! on the iPhone and iPad.
What We Like
  • Smart and fun math game.

  • Simple design.

  • Easy to pick up and play in short bursts.

What We Don't Like
  • Music can feel repetitive.

  • Ads for merchandise between games is disruptive.

  • Only one game mode.

A beautifully simple game that's accessible to all skill levels, Threes! is so good it inspired countless impersonators only weeks after its release. That's a shame, because a game this good should be shouted from the rooftops.

Threes! tasks players with sliding all the numbers on the board together in one of four directions. If two identical numbers are squished together, they create the sum of those two numbers. The goal is to keep squishing like numbers and, in the case of "1" and "2," dissimilar numbers, until you run out of possible moves and tally an incredible score.

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Touchtone on the iPhone or iPad.
What We Like
  • Interesting story with twists and surprises.

  • Excellent writing.

  • Challenging puzzles.

What We Don't Like
  • Not much help if you're stuck.

  • Getting stuck interrupts the narrative.

  • Problematic and off-putting story elements.

TouchTone proves that a game can be both a challenging puzzle game and a riveting social message. It presents you with wiggly lines that need to connect to like-colored nodes. To do this, you slide objects in rows and columns that can split and redirect the lines in different directions. They're communication lines, and as the latest citizen tasked with monitoring communication as part of your civic duty, you'll follow a tantalizing story as you determine whether what you're listening to is pertinent to protecting the country.

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World of Goo

World of Goo
2D Boy
What We Like
  • Fun and creative art design.

  • Award-winning physics gameplay.

  • Great atmosphere.

What We Don't Like
  • Music becomes repetitive.

  • Multiplayer gameplay is not compelling.

  • Recent update didn't add new content.

One of the App Store's early puzzle hits is still one of its best. World of Goo perfected the bridge-building style of physics-based games when it launched on the Wii and desktops, but it never felt more at home than when it came to the iPad and the iPhone.

Players drag adorable, anthropomorphic balls of goo to create structures that, while wobbly, will hopefully stand the test of time. These structures are needed to help rescue other goo that are stranded just out of reach. 

Unique, charming, and challenging, World of Goo feels like a physics simulation by way of Dr. Seuss.