The 10 Best VR Puzzle and Escape Room Games

Man in a maze
Photo: Stewart Sutton / Getty

New genres of games have emerged thanks to advancements in not only VR headsets, but in the content that pushes what these devices can do.

In the early 1990s, CD-ROM puzzle games such as Myst and Riven made use of the added storage capacity of this new storage medium by adding graphical elements that went well beyond those of traditional games of the time. Much as the advent of the CD-ROM helped to further the puzzle game genre, Virtual Reality is helping to reinvigorate puzzle games by creating a sense of being immersed in the environment.

When you feel like you’re present in the environment, the game is enhanced on many levels. For puzzle-type games, the mechanics of VR help to connect you to the puzzle elements. 

Live-action “escape room” gaming arcades have been popping up all over the world and provide team-building immersive puzzle-solving experiences to customers. At these locations, you pay a fee to be ‘trapped’ in a room that you must escape. Escaping usually involves solving a series of logic puzzles.

These live-action escape room experiences have inspired the creation of VR escape room game counterparts. In VR, you’re not bound by the limitations of the real world, so the VR escape rooms can be anything you can imagine. Maybe you have to escape a medieval dungeon or perhaps a space station.

Let’s check out the top 10 best VR puzzle and escape room games currently available.

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Belko VR: An Escape Room Experiment

Screenshot from Belko VR Game
Photo: Top Right Corner, Yarvo Productions, Paper Crane Games

Developer: Top Right Corner, Yarvo Productions, Paper Crane Games
VR Platform(s): HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

Typically, movie tie-in games are usually terrible. Is that because developers haven’t seen the actual movie that their game is based on? Perhaps. Surprisingly, The Belko VR game is actually pretty good for a movie tie-in game.

It’s definitely not a game for kids, and, given the premise, adults might not find the whole thing appealing either, but it does make for an interesting escape room game that ties nicely to the premise of the movie for which it’s named (The Belko Experiment).

This is basically an escape room game with a 15-minute timer. If you fail to complete the goal in time, then you die. 

The timer in this game adds an element of stress to the whole situation by creating a sense of urgency and makes it a puzzle / escape room game that gets your blood pumping.

The price is right: the game is free since it was mainly created to promote The Belko Experiment movie. If you think you can handle the stress, give this game a try. Players may experience two different endings depending on the choice they make toward the end.

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Nevrosa: Prelude

Screenshot of Nevrosa: Prelude VR game
Photo: GexagonVR

Developer: GexagonVR
VR Platform(s): HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

If you like your puzzle games with a heaping dose of scary, then you should check out Nevrosa: Prelude.

The developer of Nevrosa wants the game to be so terrifying that they won’t resort to using cheap jumpscares. This game is definitely a creepy experience.

One unique element of Nevrosa: Prelude is that while most escape room puzzle games don’t put you in any kind of virtual physical danger, Nevrosa adds the element of this-puzzle-could-actually-hurt-me to its escape room game. It reminds us a bit of the SAW movies from just a few years ago.

Nevrosa: Prelude is a free-to-play game. As the title implies, this is just an intro and not really a full-fledged game. This free experience is just to whet your appetite for the full game. Download Nevrosa: Prelude if you dare.

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Screenshot of ABODE VR game
Photo: Overflow

Developer: Overflow
VR Platform(s): HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

ABODE is an indie puzzle title that has character. It’s a very short title, only having one room to escape from, but its price reflects this. This is one of the more inexpensive VR escape room games available right now.

ABODE is a classic escape room title. Solve multiple puzzles to find keys and such to solve other puzzles until you finally get a code to let you escape the room. Most of the puzzles aren't terribly hard, but they're fun and do require at least a little bit of thinking.

The graphics are lo-fi, but we’re here for the puzzles, and ABODE delivers on those. The game is a short experience, but a fun one nonetheless.

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Screenshot from Statik VR game
Photo: Tarsier Studios

Developer: Tarsier Studios
VR Platform(s): PlayStation VR

Take the popular fidget cubes all the kids are playing with, make them into complex puzzles, and then mix it together with a portal-esque lab setting, and you’ve got Statik for PSVR. This game is a PSVR exclusive and for good reason, as it was designed to use just about every button of the PS4’s DualShock 4 controller.

In this game, you are a test subject in a lab where you must solve puzzles that are strapped to your hands. You can flip the puzzle around to just about any angle you want to and there are puzzle elements on each side. You must figure out the puzzle through trial and error and by using clues, which are often found in the environments around you.

While you’re trying to figure out the puzzle, the game adds a bit of stress and distraction in the form of scientists who appear to be analyzing your every move and writing notes on their clipboards. You don’t really know what they are looking for or what the purpose of the experiments are, but the whole thing really does make you feel like some kind of guinea pig and inspires a bit of paranoia.

This is definitely a must-have if you own PlayStation VR and love puzzle games.

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Screenshot of Conductor VR game
Photo: Overflow

Developer: Overflow
VR Platform(s): HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

From the makers of ABODE, another puzzle game on our list, comes Conductor. While ABODE was a good, albeit short escape room game, Conductor is more of a puzzle-adventure type game.

Unlike ABODE which featured a single location (unless you count the bathroom in ABODE as an additional room), this game features multiple locations and has the unique game mechanic of having to operate a train to transport you to the next location. The game also features the use of a weapon of sorts, a gravity cannon. This can be used to help move things around or to grab onto things and smash them into walls to disable them.

As they did with their other puzzle escape room game, ABODE, Overflow (the developer) has chosen yet again to go with “lo-fi” graphics as opposed to flashy photorealism. We like this choice as it let’s you focus on the puzzle tasks at hand and makes for a less resource-demanding game.

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SVRVIVE - The Deus Helix

Screenshot of SVRVIVE VR game
Photo: SVRVIVE Studios

Developer: SVRVIVE Studios
VR Platform(s): HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

If alien-themed puzzles are your thing, SVRViVE is another title worth considering. This game has you playing a forced recruit whose mission is to obtain “Helix” pieces by solving puzzles at various alien locations to which you are teleported. Solve all the puzzles, and the aliens say they’ll give you your life back. Fail to solve them, and you’ll be….well…just try not to fail.

To get your feet wet, you start in a basic escape-the-room scenario for the first mission, and then the game gradually moves to larger much more varied alien locales.

If you’re looking for challenging puzzles where you can take your time to work things out, then this game might be worth a try.

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Fantastic Contraption

Screenshot of Fantastic Contraption VR game
Photo: Northway Games, Radial Games Corp

Developer: Northway Games, Radial Games Corp
VR Platform(s): HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

If you like hands-on physics puzzle games that make you feel like an inventor and pit crew member at the same time, then Fantastic Contraption might be right up your alley.

Fantastic Contraption is a whimsical puzzle game with lots of characters and tons of levels to keep you busy. The basic premise of the game is to build an invention to move a puzzle piece from point “A” to point “B.” The terrain between point “A” and “B” could be an incline, a flight of stairs, or any number of crazy possibilities.

You must build a simple machine to move your puzzle piece through the terrain obstacle. You are given various machine parts, some that act as motors, some that act like wheels, and some that add support to other parts. You combine these parts in VR by virtually snapping them together. When you think you’ve built your perfect machine you press the “play” button and see if it works. If it does, great, on to the next level. If it doesn’t, then it’s back to the virtual drawing board to tweak your machine and try again.

This puzzle game is definitely for creative types of all ages. The developer has recently added a level editor for creating user-generated content. Users can download and play levels built by other users. This greatly increases the replay value for this game.

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Screenshot from Obduction VR game
Photo: Cyan Inc.

Developer: Cyan Inc.
VR Platform(s): HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

In the introduction, we mentioned classic puzzle games such as Myst, one of the most famous puzzle adventure games of all time. So whatever happened to the team behind Myst? What are they doing lately? The answer: Obduction.

Yes, that’s right, Cyan, the team behind the legendary Myst, have created another otherworldly puzzle game, and this time it’s built from the ground up for virtual reality. Obduction has been called “the spiritual successor to Myst and Riven.”

We won’t give much of the storyline away, but this game is an escape room game on a grand scale with puzzles throughout. You’re not trying to escape only a room, but an entire planet to find your way home.

Unlike many other puzzle titles that can be completed in hour or two, Obduction is meant to take longer. Some reviews said it took them about two and a half days or so to complete.

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I Expect You To Die

Screenshot from I Expect You To Die VR game
Photo: Schnell Games

Developer: Schnell Games
VR Platform(s): HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR

Did you ever pretend that you were James Bond or some other famous secret agent when you were a kid? 007 was always put in dire situations that seemed to guarantee his almost certain death, yet he would always survive through his ingenuity.

I Expect You To Die is a VR puzzle game that distills the whole secret-agent-caught-in-a-trap plot device and makes a really fun game out of it.

One of the scenarios in the pre-release demo has you in a fancy Bond-esque gadget-filled car that is in an airplane. Your goal is to escape the airplane by starting the car and somehow getting it out of the airplane. Bonus (or spoiler): missiles are involved.

If you like having to solve puzzles as if your life depended on it, then this game is for you.

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The Gallery - Episode 1: Call of the Starseed

Screenshot from The Gallery - Episode 1: Call of the Starseed
Photo: Cloudhead Games Ltd.

Developer: Cloudhead Games Ltd.
VR Platform(s): HTC Vive, Oculus Rift

The Gallery - Episode 1: Call of the Star Seed is part puzzle game, part mystery, with escape room elements. In Call of the Star Seed your quest is to find your missing sister. You start on a mysterious island and follow clues left by your sister on a series of audio cassette tapes. The developers call the game a “built-for-VR game inspired by dark 80s fantasy films.”

This game is reminiscent of the television show LOST, with its eerie island-based science lab theme. Logic puzzles abound throughout. The attention to detail in the environments really helps to create an excellent sense of immersion, which is probably one of the reasons that HTC Vive picked this as one of their content bundle selections.

The whole game feels well planned and polished. The VR teleportation mechanics are also very good, especially for people who only have small VR play spaces available. In our opinion, this is a must-have title if you’re into VR puzzle/adventure games. This game is also just episode one. More episodes are expected in the near future.

The environments of this game are extremely lush and detailed and the backpack inventory mechanic is how adventure games should do inventory from now on.

Puzzling Indeed

This is just the first wave of VR puzzle games, we think the best is yet to come. We'll update our list with new titles as competition dictates so be sure to check back here frequently