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Best Overall: Limbo + Inside Bundle at Amazon
"Two all-time atmospheric classics, bundled together for one low price."
Best Open World: The Witness at Playstation
"A masterpiece in creative problem solving and open-ended exploration."
Best for Kids: Peggle 2 at Playstation
"Offers over 140 different levels to play through and has an adorable art-style."
Best Virtual Reality: Tetris Effect at Amazon
"The ultimate Tetris experience in full virtual reality with PSVR."
Best Indie: Fez at Playstation
"A mind-melting 2D adventure with tons of hidden secrets and mysteries to discover."
Best Action-Adventure: The Last Guardian at Amazon
"Praised for its art direction and storytelling."
Best Story: Valiant Hearts The Great War at Playstation
"A game that continues to pull at our heartstrings."
Best Noir: Contrast at Gamestop
"One of the best (and most unique) puzzle games."
Courtesy of Amazon
Danish developer Playdead has only made two games in its history but has managed to deliver some of the best all-time modern day classics with Limbo and Inside. Raking in multiple Game of the Year awards when they released in 2010 and 2016, respectively, each game is a wholly unique trip into a silent, chilling world drenched with creepy atmospheres, haunting music, and narratives designed to make you think as much as the puzzles.
Both games are spiritual sequels to each other, and feature boy protagonists exploring a desolate landscape in search of something greater. You unearth mysteries at the core of the game by completing non-traditional logic puzzles. Both games are relatively short but jam-packed minute-to-minute thrills and sport idiosyncratic, monochromatic art styles compared to German Expressionist film noir. It sounds like a lot, but each game is a quiet, peaceful meditation that will entrance you and mystify you until the very last moment.
Courtesy of PlayStation
Inspired by the 1990s puzzle-game Myst, the creators of the 3D puzzle game, The Witness, have crafted an open-world island full of puzzles and mysteries for you to solve. Created by visionary Jonathan Blow, The Witness has earned critical and commercial acclaim for a game only made by a handful of people. The game drops you into a mystical island that houses both natural and human-made structures. The unnamed protagonist you play as gets to explore the different regions of the island, solving tasks and learning symbols to complete puzzles, in an effort to make it to the top of a mountain at the center of the island. You won't be rushing to the finish line, either, with the game including over 650 different puzzles and challenges.
Need a bit of inspiration during your quest? Audio logs and famous quotes from individuals including Buddha and B.F. Skinner are read by different actors to inspire you on your journey. The Witness gained Game of the Year awards and is considered one of the best games of this generation for its clever multi-layered stages and meta-breaking puzzle and world design. The Witness might be the perfect puzzle game for you if you're up for the challenge. It's also available on Windows, Xbox One, macOS, iOS, and the Nvidia Shield.
We're not saying that Peggle 2 is a puzzle game just for kids, but it certainly is our best pick for the younger crowd looking to stretch their brains on mind-based challenges. Developed by Popcap, also known for Plants vs. Zombies and Bejeweled, Peggle 2 saw its debut on the Xbox One in 2013, before making its way to the PlayStation 4. It's a twist on pinball and Plinko, and you play as Bjorn the Unicorn, aiming balls at pegs and lighting them up as they fall to the bottom of the screen. It's simple, easy to learn, and fun for the whole family.
With hundreds of different levels to play through, classical music, vibrant art direction, whimsical characters, and an adorable story, it's hard not to fall in love with the childlike joy and wonder of Peggle. Additionally, there are downloadable content packs to add characters and levels to keep the adventure going. If Peggle sounds like the game for you, be sure to pick it up.
If you're tired of playing video games in this world, then you might want to step into another with the help of PlayStation VR and Tetris Effect. Named after the psychological syndrome where people see Tetris blocks after playing and dream about it later on, the Tetris Effect aims to channel the same psychedelic experience in total virtual reality. Matching titles still hasn't gotten old since 1984, and this is arguably the best it has ever been.
Zone out to epic, vivid levels with thumping music, enthralling cerebral effects, and lots of Tetrominos. Get lost in dozens of levels designed by Rez creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who's known for trippy games that take you on a journey out of this world. Tetris Effect picked up multiple Game of the Year awards when it was released, and unlike most Playstation VR games, Tetris Effect does not require a PS VR headset or PS Camera; you can just pick up and play like Tetris was made to be.
Courtesy of PlayStation.com
Developed by Polytron in 2012, this small puzzle platformer initially made its debut on Xbox 360 before making it to other consoles, including the PlayStation 4. You play as Gomez, the adorable fez hat-wearing protagonist who travels between various two-dimensional spaces.
Living peacefully within his world, Gomez learns that there is much more to see when the fabric of space is ripped apart before his eyes. Learning that Gomez can flip levels in 3D is this game's twist on traditional puzzles. Gomez completes tasks by rotating between multiple views and angles of the same structures, which can be quite dizzying and fun. Described as a game to "stop and smell the flowers," Fez can certainly feel peaceful but don't let that fool you into thinking this game is easy. It is also available on Windows, Linux, macOS, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and iOS.
Do you enjoy your puzzles with a bit more action? If so, then you might want to check out The Last Guardian, an exclusive for the Sony PlayStation 4. Developed by SIE Japan and released by Sony Interactive Entertainment in 2016, you take on the role of a small boy who befriends a giant creature named Trico. Together, both the boy and the giant creature must work together to solve puzzles and explore the area around them. Fans of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus will notice similarities, as all three games were directed by acclaimed Japanese video game designer Fumito Ueda.
The Last Guardian is not only an action-adventure puzzle game but one with stunning detail. On its release, The Last Guardian was praised for its art direction and storytelling. Are you ready to explore deep ruins and solve puzzles with a creature that resembles an odd, yet loveable, mix between a bird and a cat? If so, be sure to jump in, and get ready for an adventure.
Courtesy of PlayStation
Can a puzzle game compel you to feel for its characters with a heart-touching story and a cast of loveable characters? If the answer is yes, then Ubisoft’s Valiant Hearts: The Great War comes quite close. Puzzle games don't need to be entirely about hard-logic and complex pattern matching; puzzle games can also have a bit of heart to them. Inspired by letters written during the first World War, also known as The Great War, Valiant Hearts has you follow the story of four friends on the battlefield with the ultimate goal of assisting a young German soldier in finding his love.
Travel the battlefield and obtain different items through four different characters, Frenchman Emile, Emile's German son-in-law Karl, American Freddie, and Belgian nurse Anna. Valiant Hearts is a game that continues to pull at our heartstrings, and we believe it might just pull you in, too. In addition to PlayStation 4, Valiant Hearts; The Great War is available on Windows PCs, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch, along with Android and iOS devices.
Courtesy of PlayStation
Does the idea of racing around a world cast in a noir atmosphere entice you? A world shrouded in darkness, playing with the curious movements of shadows helps to establish Contrast as one of the best, and unique, puzzle games available on the PlayStation 4. Developed by Compulsion Games and released in 2013 by Focus Home Interactive, Contrast pits you against platform-style puzzle challenges, while you jump between two worlds. Navigate the physical world in 3D, then jump into the shadows, an exciting 2D experience, as you interact with the world's unique characters.
Play through the world of Contrast with Didi, a nine-year-old girl, who has a spark of wisdom to her, and, Dawn, a woman of mysterious origins who can pass between the physical world and the world of shadows. As you jump between realities, you might find a way to protect your family from the city's Mafia. Those interested in Contrast, but without PlayStation 4, can also drop into the action on Windows PCs, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.