Action or sports games can be fun and relaxing and usually don’t require too much thinking, which makes them a cool way to kill some time, but usually, they are just that – an addictive source of pure entertainment. However, there are also games that can actually boost your mental health and train your intelligence – sounds good?

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Without further ado, let’s dive into the list of some of the best games that make you think and improve your puzzle-solving abilities.

        

Factorio

Release:2016-02-25
Genre:Indie
Developer:Wube Software LTD.

The first game on the list is none other than Factorio – a game about creating the most efficient factory possible.

Factorio

Factorio is a sandbox factory simulation game with a simple goal – to make a factory that will create all sorts of goods and semi-products to ultimately make and launch a rocket and leave the inhospitable alien planet, on which you accidentally crashed. The game strikes a balance between being accessible to inexperienced players and providing a virtually unlimited challenge for the veterans. That’s because, in the long run, it doesn’t matter if your factory will work as efficiently as possible or not – if you don’t want to spend time and effort to optimize everything to the limits, you will still be able to reach the final goal, it will just take you some more time.

Key features
  • A fun factory simulation that revolves around creating a factory and manufacturing all sorts of goods
  • Procedurally generated, customizable worlds that ensure that no two playthroughs are exactly the same
  • A solid management game – research and create new types of items, manage power grids, build mines and refineries, and transport stuff on conveyor belts or trains
  • Multiplayer mode that can support as many as over 200 people playing simultaneously
        

Gladiabots

Release:2019-05-22
Genre:Indie
Developer:GFX47

Have you ever wanted to program your very own team of robots and send them to battle against teams programmed by other players? If so, this is the game for you.

Gladiabots

Gladiabots is a programming video game, where your objective is to create a set of instructions for your robots to follow in order to defeat the opposing team. There are 3 different online game modes available, and each one requires a different strategy – one mode, for example, is about simply killing the enemy robots before they kill your team, but there is also a mode that requires capturing randomly generated orbs and taking them back to your base to earn points. Programming the robots is much easier than you think – there is no single line of code needed to be manually written. Instead, you will have to use all sorts of customizable instruction blocks. Come up with clever solutions and surprise your opponents – the possibilities are endless.

Key features
  • An addictive strategy game about programming robots and sending them to battle
  • Virtually infinite possibilities – design your own AI to handle all scenarios and difficult edge cases
  • A comprehensive single-player campaign that teaches everything you need to know in a newbie-friendly fashion
  • 3 different online game modes, 4 robot classes with customizable skins, and a simple, intuitive interface
        

The Witness

Release:2016-01-26
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Thekla, Inc.

The Witness was a very refreshing experience – it’s an ambitious project that redefined the puzzle genre in video games.

The Witness

The Witness is a 3D puzzle game that consists of hundreds of unique environmental puzzles that you need to solve in order to progress further and unlock even more content. The puzzles start rather simple – all you need to do is to draw a line that connects two points. Things start to get funky once you complete later stages and realize that these puzzles can be literally anywhere around you, not just on the designated puzzle boards – you need to be well aware of your surroundings, as this can be crucial to finding not only a solution but the puzzle itself. Sometimes you need to think out of the box or look at things from a different perspective. This is also where you truly start to appreciate the effort that was put into creating this beautiful masterpiece.

Key features
  • An addictive puzzle game with an open-world environment and exploration
  • Hundreds of increasingly difficult puzzles to solve with new rules being added gradually as you progress further
  • Numerous hidden challenges for those who are curious and smart enough to find them
  • A relaxing atmosphere with beautiful visuals full of vivid colors
        

Portal 2

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

This game probably doesn’t need an introduction – it’s one of those iconic titles that ring a bell even if someone doesn’t play video games too often.

Portal 2 is a puzzle-platform game, where you need to use your portal gun to navigate through increasingly difficult test chambers. You can fire two types of portals – orange and blue. Only one portal of each color can exist at any given time, and whatever enters one portal will exit from the other. You need to smartly utilize this fact to find a way to escape the room and get to the exit, where a new puzzle awaits. Later during the game, new gameplay mechanics are introduced to give you even more advanced puzzles to solve – it’s a true IQ test for the most intelligent individuals. The game also comes with a super fun multiplayer co-op mode with a completely new set of challenges designed exclusively to be solved by two players working together. If you have someone to play with, definitely give co-op mode a go.

Key features
  • An iconic puzzle game with a casual-friendly atmosphere and a good dose of humor
  • Increasingly difficult environmental puzzles that come with various cognitive benefits for your brain
  • Easy to learn but gets more complex as new gameplay mechanics are introduced in later stages
  • A solid number of challenges designed to be played exclusively in co-op multiplayer
        

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Release:2015-10-08
Genre:Indie
Developer:Steel Crate Games

This is an interesting game due to how unique it is. Although you can play it alone, it’s clearly meant to be played together with at least one another player – keep that in mind before you decide to give it a go.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is a video game focused on the process of defusing a bomb. One player is tasked with describing what he sees, while the rest must read through the manual to find the solution and instruct the first player on what to do next – which button to press, which cable to cut, and so on. The game requires good teamwork and communication skills, but it’s super fun once you get the hang of it. The puzzles that appear on the bomb and need to be solved are randomized each playthrough, which means that you can’t simply memorize everything unless you spend hours upon hours trying to do so. It could serve as a nice hardcore challenge to improve memory, though, so maybe it’s not an entirely bad idea to give a solo run without a manual a try.

Key features
  • An addictive puzzle game that can serve as a perfect party title or a challenge for lone wolves
  • Procedurally generated challenges that ensure that no two playthroughs are exactly the same
  • Complex puzzles that purposefully make communication harder by changing the meaning of certain words or requiring players to describe certain symbols
  • Only the bomb defuser needs to own a copy of the game – the rest can download the manual for free
        

Scribblenauts Unlimited

Release:2013-02-15
Genre:Arcade & Platform
Developer:5th Cell Media

On a more unique side of the spectrum of video games designed to try a brain, we’ve got Scribblenauts Unlimited – a game, where you have to use your imagination and creativity to solve the puzzles.

Scribblenauts Unlimited

Scribblenauts Unlimited is a puzzle sandbox game that will test your creativity. In Scribblenauts, you have a special ability that allows you to create objects out of thin air by simply typing what you want to get. Do you want a big red apple? Type that in, and you will get it. Do you want a fast flying horse? It also shouldn’t be a problem. The game features tons of different puzzles, and to solve them you need to figure out yourself what object will be of most use. The game won’t tell you what you need, and it’s up to you to come up with a solution. With that being said, most puzzles can be solved in a number of different ways, which results in non-linear gameplay that encourages players to experiment with stuff.

Key features
  • A puzzle sandbox game that puts emphasis on the use of the player’s own imagination
  • An ability to create almost any possible object you can think of by simply typing a combination of nouns and adjectives
  • Simple but adorable cartoon-like visuals full of vivid colors
  • An item editor that allows players to add new custom objects to the game
        

Shenzhen I/O

Release:2016-11-17
Genre:Indie
Developer:Zachtronics

If you’re wondering which video games make you smarter, you can’t go wrong with games from Zachtronics. We picked Shenzhen I/O for no particular reason – there are several more similar titles to try if you’re interested.

Shenzhen I/O is a puzzle programming game, where the objective is to design and build circuits in such a way that it prints a specific output sequence of zeroes and ones when given a certain input. You’ll need to use a variety of different components, connect them, and manually program them to get a satisfying result. While the game doesn’t teach real programming or electronics, it can give you a basic understanding of certain programming concepts and ideas, which can actually help you to boost your programming skills – at least if you’re on a beginner level right now. It’s also an excellent way to train logical thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Key features
  • A surprisingly complex puzzle programming game about creating circuits with virtually endless possibilities
  • An ultimate test for your logical thinking
  • Can get extremely difficult at later stages
  • Online leaderboards that encourage players to find a more optimal solution than what the rest of the community came up with
        

Lumosity

Release:2017
Genre:Puzzle
Developer:Easybrain
Game modes:Single-player

If you want to play a game designed specifically to train one’s brain, Lumosity could be an excellent choice.

Lumosity

Lumosity is a selection of puzzle minigames with the purpose of training people’s brains. Lumosity can help you improve various areas of your mental abilities, from problem-solving to memory and processing speed. It features a number of charts and statistics that allows players to keep track of their progress – you can easily compare your current results with the previous ones to see if you’re getting better. It introduces a special numerical value called Brain Performance Index, or BPI for short, that describes your performance. The better you get at the games, the higher your memory, attention, speed, flexibility, and problem-solving scores will become. You can then compare the results with your friends or even compete to see who’s best.

Key features
  • A solid choice of minigames designed to train different things, from memory to problem-solving
  • A fun way to improve your brain-related abilities
  • Easy to learn and understand
  • Charts and statistics that serve as an easy way to track progress
        

Sudoku.com

Release year:2017
Genre:Puzzle
Developer:Easybrain
Game modes:Single-player

Sudoku is an old game from 1979 that today remains one of the most popular ways to do some brain exercise and can be easily found in form of a video game.

Sudoku

Sudoku is a simple game, but it never gets old. The objective is to fill an entire 9×9 grid with numbers from 1 to 9 while making sure that no number breaks any of the rules. And the rules are simple – there can’t be duplicate numbers in any row, any column, or any of the nine smaller 3×3 squares. Each sudoku starts with some numbers already placed in their correct cells, and you need to figure out how to fill the rest of the board. Sudoku.com offers a friendly experience when it comes to playing this classic game and comes with a variety of features, such as an option to choose the board size. You can, for example, try your hand at 16×16 grids for some extra challenge.

Key features
  • A convenient way to take a virtually infinite number of sudoku puzzles with you anywhere you want
  • Simple and clean interface
  • Just as good as the original pen and paper version
  • Can be played offline
        

Chess Pro

Release date:2010
Genre:Puzzle, board game
Developer:AI Factory Limited
Game modes:Single-player, multiplayer

Finally, the king of brain games – chess. A game with rules so easy that even a child can start playing, yet somehow the game itself can get incredibly complex.

Chess Pro

Chess is a centuries-old game where two players move their figures in a turn-based fashion in order to checkmate the opposing king – that is, to force the enemy king to move in a situation when he doesn’t actually have any valid moves left to make. There are a few different figures in the game and each behaves differently, which adds a lot of strategy to the gameplay. Chess Pro is a great way to enjoy this classic board game played by millions of players across the world.

Key features
  • A digitalized version of a classic board game
  • Match settings for a more personalized experience
  • Customizable chess boards
  • Unlockable achievements for completionists

The Best Games that Make You Smarter

Video games are a great source of entertainment, but the question is – do video games make you smarter? And the answer is: it depends on the game you play. Surely you won’t become smarter by playing first-person shooters or action games, but there are tons of games that can be used to effectively train your brain in a fun way. Puzzle games are a prime example, as they provide specific types of challenges for you to solve. The more puzzle games you play, the better, as they can improve your memory, flexibility, and problem-solving skills, among other things.

Playing puzzle games on a regular basis can have a positive impact on your mental abilities – check out our list of some of the best video games that make you smarter and start exercising your brain today.