Sometimes a puzzle can put a hard stop to your tour of glorious destruction, and it can we annoying. Other times, you specifically need a dedicated puzzle game to take a break from destruction, but on your own terms.

Below we’ve gathered a few games which are sure to carve new pathways in your neurons and activate the areas other games have left idle. Some of them leave you free to come up with your own creative solutions, others are pure logic puzzles, others still might evoke a mild “escape room” vibe, but all of them are fantastic brain-teasers. Without further ado, let’s dust off these neurons with…

Best Puzzle Games for PC
GameReleaseGenreDeveloperSale
The Witness 2016-01-26 Adventure Thekla, Inc. 66% Read more
Portal 2 2011-04-18 Adventure Valve Read more
The Talos Principle 2014-12-11 Adventure Croteam 92% Read more
Baba Is You 2019-03-13 Indie Hempuli Oy Read more
Braid 2009-04-10 Indie Number None 54% Read more
World Of Goo 2008-10-13 Adventure 2D BOY 68% Read more
Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes 2015-10-08 Indie Steel Crate Games 30% Read more
Human Fall Flat 2016-07-22 Adventure No Brakes Games 77% Read more
The Turing Test 2016-08-30 Adventure Bulkhead Interactive 86% Read more
Portal 2007-10-10 Adventure Valve Read more
Bridge Constructor Portal 2017-12-20 Simulation 90% Read more
Opus Magnum 2017-12-07 Indie Zachtronics Industries 76% Read more
Fez 2013-05-01 Adventure Polytron Corporation 62% Read more
Supraland 2019-04-05 Adventure Supra Games 95% Read more
Antichamber 2013-01-31 Adventure Alexander Bruce 19% Read more
The Swapper 2013-05-30 Adventure Olli Harjola, Otto Hantula, Tom Jubert, Carlo Castellano 87% Read more
Gorogoa 2017-12-14 Adventure Buried Signal 73% Read more
Superliminal 2020-11-05 79% Read more
Limbo 2011-08-02 Adventure Playdead 78% Read more
Infinifactory 2015-06-30 Indie Zachtronics 25% Read more
Lara Croft Go 2016-12-04 Adventure Square Enix Montréal 87% Read more
Strange Horticulture 2022-01-21 34% Read more
Inside 2016-07-07 Adventure Playdead 75% Read more
It Takes Two 2021-03-26 Read more
The Undergarden 2010-11-10 Puzzle Artech Studios 86% Read more
Mini Metro 2015-11-06 Adventure Dinosaur Polo Club 11% Read more
The Room 2016-07-15 Adventure hOSHI Read more
Unravel 2016 Adventure 60% Read more
Myst 2021-08-26 Adventure Cyan Read more
The Room Two 2016-07-05 Adventure Fireproof Games Read more
The Room Three 2018-11-13 Adventure Read more
Kami 2016-10-26 Adventure Kuro Irodoru Yomiji 80% Read more
Lyne 2014-03-17 Indie Thomas Bowker 44% Read more
Spacechem 2011-03-02 Indie Zachtronics 44% Read more
The Talos Principle 2014-12-11 Adventure Croteam 92% Read more
Hexcells Complete Pack 2014-02-19 Indie Matthew Brown Read more

11 of the best puzzle games for PC

Portal 1 & 2

Release: 2011-04-18
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Valve

The Portal games are not only one of the most famous series in gaming, it also happens to be two of the most creative mainstream puzzle games you could play. The idea is simple but opens a way to many exciting challenges. You are playing as Chell, a test subject in a research facility. You’re armed with a gun which fires linked portals, and you get some protection from fall damage… good luck!

Portal 1 & 2

The games are effectively a series of rooms which require creative use of the portals to move around, transport weighted cubes and bypass cheerful turrets. There are moving platforms, surfaces which can’t hold a portal, buttons to press, and a snarky AI mocking your failures and complaining about your successes. Portal 2 even has a two-player co-op starring two bumbling robots.

Key features
  • Popularly considered one of the best games of all times
  • Creative puzzles powered by a physics engine
  • The sequel features 2-player co-op
  • Great writing

The Room

Release: 2016-07-15
Genre: Adventure
Developer: hOSHI

The Room is a puzzle classic in its own right. A PC remake of an iPad game, with more content, better graphics, and the same degree of teasing your braincells. The game is filled to the brim with various mechanical and alchemical contraptions which you’ll need to figure out if you want to solve the mystery of a weird box in the attic.

The Room

The Room is absolutely one of the best puzzle games you could hope to play, especially if you’re hardened by challenges in old-school adventure games and have gloriously defeated every escape room you’ve ever been to. You should try the PC version even if you beat the game back in 2012 on your iPad, because the PC release adds an epilogue with a ton of extra stuff.

Key features
  • Still looks great, with detailed contraptions
  • Plenty of challenging puzzles
  • A minimal story
  • A remake of a classic gamer from iPad

Baba Is You

Release: 2019-03-13
Genre: Indie
Developer: Hempuli Oy

Baba Is You is a delightfully weird game based on, effectively, extremely minor coding. Each map has a few rules phrased as “x is y” which define the way certain elements work or interact. Now here comes the trick: the rules are based on blocks you can push around, fundamentally changing the way a given level works. It’s a simple gameplay idea which paves the way for fascinating logic puzzles.

Baba Is You

The complexity of challenges before you grows quickly, but the game doesn’t become too frustrating, partially thanks to its simple and friendly retro aesthetic. Baba Is You has low system requirements, is pretty cheap, and will give your hours and hours of head scratching and pondering before you complete all the challenges.

Key features
  • One of the most unique logic games out there
  • Simple aesthetic
  • Over 200 increasingly complex levels
  • Very low system requirements

It Takes Two

Release: 2021-03-26
Genre: Puzzle
Developer: Hazelight

Whereas most of the game on this list are perfectly singleplayer with a rare departure into optional multi, It Takes Two is a fundamentally co-op title, it can’t be played at all if you don’t have a co-op partner. Most of the challenges ahead of you require coordinated teamwork, whether it’s about operating two-person devices or platforming powered by the environment and character abilities.

It Takes Two

The story puts you in the role of soon-to-be-divorced couple Cody and May, who ended up in toy bodies because of a magic spell unknowingly cast by their daughter, Rose. Now they need to complete challenges posed by a sentient relationship therapy book if they want to return to their bodies. The problem is that they’ll have to work together and remember they used to love each other.

Key features
  • Phenomenal two-player puzzle-platforming game
  • Emotionally charged plot
  • Lovely levels based on a large household from the perspective of tiny sentient toys
  • Created by Hazelight Studios, known for A Way Out

Kami

Release: 2016-10-26
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Kuro Irodoru Yomiji

Kami is as much a puzzle game as it is a relaxing experience. The idea is that you have a screen filled with a grid made of neatly folded colorful paper, and your task is to fill the screen with a single color. You do it by unfolding (clicking on) the pieces of paper, which turns them into the hue you’ve selected. The fewer moves you need to do it, the better. That’s pretty much it.

Kami

As you complete levels, the arrangements of colors get more and more elaborate, creating lovely patterns. The game even uses real paper as the base of its aesthetic, instead of relying purely on computer-generated elements. Watching tiles unfold into new colors looks great and sounds great. Kami is both a great puzzle game and is also incredibly satisfying.

Key features
  • You must fill the screen with a single color
  • The aesthetic uses real paper
  • Very relaxing
  • The challenge is in completing the puzzle in very few moves

Lyne

Release: 2014-03-17
Genre: Indie
Developer: Thomas Bowker

Lyne is yet another minimalist puzzle game on this list, because sometimes a good puzzle doesn’t require complex graphics, just a neat presentation. Lyne gives you grids filled with geometric shapes which you have to connect with, well, lines. The trick is that you must connect all shapes of the same kind with a single line, and that different lines can’t cross.

Lyne

Some grids also feature cross-roads tiles, which allow a specific number of different lines to pass through. Simple rules, complex solutions, and potentially infinite number of procedurally generated levels. On top of that, Lyne uses very eye-friendly color palettes and tidy designs of the geometric shapes, which creates a very neat, easy to parse experience which won’t burn your retinas.

Key features
  • Connect geometric figures with lines
  • Clean designs and color palettes
  • Tons of levels to clear
  • Very accessible and relaxing

Spacechem

Release: 2011-03-02
Genre: Indie
Developer: Zachtronics

The first, but not the last, puzzle game from developer Zachtronics Industries, a studio very keen on creating free-form, creative puzzle games. In Spacechem you’re playing a designer of chemical processing systems. You have to design pipelines, set up factories, program the reactors, and meet increasingly difficult production quotas.

Spacechem

Each reactor requires you to move atoms around or arrange them into desired combinations, and the true challenge is programming a loop which can work infinitely. Sometimes you might even need to set up several factories on a single line, working in sequence. SpaceChem puzzles are quite complex, but on the upside, it doesn’t force you into a specific solution so you can get creative.

Key features
  • Complex tasks, creative solutions
  • Low system requirements
  • Doesn’t require learning real chemistry
  • Involves a fair bit of programming of mechanical processes

The Talos Principle

Release: 2014-12-11
Genre: Adventure
Developer: Croteam

The Talos Principle is not only a fantastic puzzle game featuring both logical and environmental puzzles. It’s also a great science fiction game with a lot more than just a little of philosophical thought behind its story. It’s an amazing combination, and whether you want to dig into the themes of the game or just solve some cool puzzles you’re in for a real treat.

The Talos Principle

As you ponder philosophical questions about existence and purpose, you’ll avoid spoilers, arrange tetrominos, and explore weird, seemingly anachronistic collections of futuristic and ancient environments. The Talos Principle is a true brain teaser on several levels, and the immersive locations made it a perfect material for a VR version, which it received not too long after release.

Key features
  • Excellent science fiction game
  • A truly cerebral experience
  • Plenty of puzzles, including arranging tetrominos and manipulating lights
  • Strong philosophical themes

Infinifactory

Release: 2015-06-30
Genre: Indie
Developer: Zachtronics

One more Zachtronics game, and you can rest assured, not the last one, either. Infinifactory is a 3D, sandbox puzzle game about building, well, factories which can sustain an infinite production loop, spitting out stuff your overlords require. You get conveyor belts, pushing mechanics, welding tools and everything else you might need to complete your abductors’ orders.

Infinifactory

Unlike many other Zachtronics games, Infinifactory is fully 3D, which literally adds another dimension to your contraptions, don’t waste that opportunity! There’s even a story to motivate you from puzzle to puzzle, and if the base serving of the game somehow isn’t enough for you, Infinifactory also features a good mod support, including a Steam Workshop integration.

Key features
  • 3D automation puzzle
  • Minimal story
  • Several planets
  • Solid mod support

Hexcells (series)

Release: 2014-02-19
Genre: Indie
Developer: Matthew Brown

The Hexcells series is going to make the day of any season veteran of Minesweeper and Picross, since it is inspired by both…and has plenty of cool twists of its own. As the title implies, instead of a square grid you get a hexagonal one, and some tiles have numbers in them, telling you how many adjacent tiles you have to mark. Some of them take on a hue, others reveal more numbers.

Hexcells (series)

The above are just the basics. Before long more rules come in, throwing in a lot more complexity. What is important, however, is that the puzzles can be resolved with pure logical reasoning, no guesswork required. There are three Hexcells games at the time of writing, each with its own selection of puzzles, but Hexcells Infinite uses procedural generation to support its pre-made

Key features
  • Creatively expands on the ideas of both Minesweeper and Picross
  • The puzzles quickly grow in complexity
  • Potentially infinite levels in Hexcells Infinite
  • No guesswork involved

Opus Magnum

Release: 2017-12-07
Genre: Indie
Developer: Zachtronics Industries

Opus Magnum from, indeed, Zachtronics, has a premise very similar to Spacechem, but done a bit differently. You’re still producing chemicals, but this time you’re operating on a hexagonal grid, and assembling alchemical elements has a fully mechanical presentation, full of pistons, rotating multi-arm contraptions, and conveyor lines. Your task is to program a smooth, infinite loop of production.

Opus Magnum

Every mechanical element gets a dedicated timeline for commands, making it easier to synchronize actions of different pieces. It’s a great puzzle game, and it only cares about the product, so you can go as minimal or as grand as you want – as long as you can program a perfect loop it’s all cool. But you’re also judged against other in terms of speed, cost, and efficiency, giving some motivation to optimize.

Key features
  • You can make a gif of exceptionally satisfying builds
  • Flexible solutions to set problems
  • A dedicated campaign with a steampunk plot
  • The are leaderboards comparing cost, efficiency, and space needed for the machine

It’s elementary

That concludes our list of games you should absolutely check out if you’re looking for something to flex the puzzle-solving muscles and get your thinking juices flowing. Ranging from neat minimalist designs to 3D sandboxes, each game on the list has the potential to keep you engaged with its challenges.