The Best iPad Puzzle Games

Great iPad games to test your brain

Photo of a puzzle piece floating above a puzzle

PM Images / Getty Images 

Do you love puzzles? Ever since the breakout popularity of Angry Birds, the Apple App Store has been overloaded with different puzzle games, from simple puzzles to physics-based puzzle games to hidden object games. Unfortunately, not every game is made equal, and some of them are just plain outright bad.  

We'll sort through some of the best puzzles on the iPad, allowing you to get your fix over your morning coffee or while waiting in the doctor's office. It should be noted that we are drawing a distinction between straight-up puzzle games and puzzle-heavy adventure games. For this list, we'll just concentrate on puzzles. 

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What We Like

  • Won an Apple Design Award and remains an Editors’ Choice in the App Store.

  • Lots of fun features, such as the ability to move the stage by tilting the iPhone.

  • Compelling soundtrack.

What We Don't Like

  • Too easy for some players.

  • More frequent updates would add interest and challenge.

This one is easily the most inventive and most beautiful puzzle game on this list. In Shadowmatic, you rotate objects that are reflected as shadows on the wall. The object of the game is to find the right silhouette for the puzzle. You may discover several different objects created by manipulating the shadow, but the room's environment will give you a hint at what you need to create. For example, if the room is within a ship, you might concentrate on sea creatures.

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What We Like

  • Brilliant and colorful.

  • Simple enough for anyone to enjoy while still posing a challenge.

What We Don't Like

  • Free version is ad-supported.

  • Very difficult to beat highest levels.

Threes is a fun game where you push numbers together on a small grid to make bigger and bigger numbers. You are restricted to combining numbers only if they match, except for the one and two which push together to make a three. The game is fun, fast and yet still has quite a bit of challenge to it. I've linked to the free version, but there is also an ad-free paid version of the game.

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Tetris Blitz

What We Like

  • Time limit adds significant challenge.

  • Play in small time increments.

What We Don't Like

  • In-app purchases.

  • Many ads.

Tetris doesn't need much of an introduction. The game has been dragging people into the depths of game addiction for three decades now, and with a rather nice variation on it, Tetris Blitz feels new and old at the same time. Tetris Blitz is a timed version of the game where you shoot for the highest score within the time limit. There is also a more traditional version available.

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Cut the Rope

What We Like

  • Based on realistic physics.

  • Easy and fun, while still challenging.

What We Don't Like

  • Ad-supported.

  • Available on many platforms, but versions are out of sync.

Do you like candy? Who doesn't? Especially monsters. Or, at least the Om Nom, the monster inside a mysterious package that arrived at your doorstep. And it is up to you to feed the monster the candy it craves by using your rope cutting skills combined with neat effects like reversing gravity. Just look out for the spiders and jagged spikes. Cut the Rope is a mix of physics-based puzzle solving and cute gameplay.

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What We Like

  • Fun, attractive interface.

  • Setting for those with color blindness.

What We Don't Like

  • Infrequently updated.

  • Free version limits number of moves.

Dots is about as minimalist as it gets on the app store. The game consists of a screen of dots and gameplay consists of matching the dots by drawing a line between them. Sound simple? It is. And that's perhaps why it is so addicting. It might sound like a simple game of connecting the marbles, but what puts Dots apart is the special move of making a square, which takes out all dots of that color. This small addition changes the entire strategy of the game from getting the biggest connection to setting up making square after square.

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What We Like

  • Fast-paced.

  • Encourages creative problem-solving.

What We Don't Like

  • For some players, clearing the board is too easy using three-letter words.

  • Feels like a difficult-to-manage mashup of several different games.

Have you ever wondered what you would get if you put Tetris into the teleporter from The Fly, but a Boggle piece was in the teleporter as well, turning it into a crazy gene splicer that spits out a Tetris/Boggle hybrid? Probably not. But if you ever do wonder what that would look like, it's Puzzlejuice. This game is one of the most addicting on the list. Like Tetris, you arrange shapes to make lines, but after they land, you search through them to form words. Amazingly simple and yet amazingly fun.

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The New York Times Crossword

What We Like

  • Features the same puzzles that are printed in the New York Times.

  • Access decades of past puzzles.

  • Short challenges when you don’t have time for a regular crossword.

What We Don't Like

  • Must subscribe after seven days.

  • No way to play along with others.

Where would a list of puzzles be without the crossword puzzle? You'll get the same daily puzzle that is in the newspaper plus a lot of extras like additional puzzle clues, mini-puzzles, and crossword packs. The only bad thing is that the New York Times Crossword requires a subscription after your free trial runs out. 

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What We Like

  • Easy to use.

  • Realistic interface.

What We Don't Like

  • Boards sometimes repeat.

  • No background music.

No list of great puzzle games would be complete without a version of Sudoku, this will be the best buck ever spent by the Sudoku addicted. The game includes thousands of grid designs, so you won't run out of puzzles anytime soon. It also has a lot of neat features, like the ability to let the iPad solve the puzzle for you.

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World Of Hidden Objects

What We Like

  • Singular, simple premise.

  • Many themes and places.

What We Don't Like

  • No storyline.

  • No zoom option.

Would this list be complete without at least one hidden object game? A virtual game of Where's Waldo, hidden object games beckon you to find all of the secrets hidden within an image. Unlike many similar games on the app store, World of Hidden Objects doesn't contain a story. Instead, it is simply a collection of beautiful photos that contain hidden objects for you to find. 

Looking For More Fun?

Why should the fun stop? Check out our big list of the very best games of all time for the iPad.