Puzzle games are in a renaissance. The rise of smartphones and mobile gaming devices has launched them into mainstream culture and made them more accessible than ever. Moreover, many of the best puzzle games feature quick playthroughs that fit perfectly into our busy schedules. The demand for excellent puzzle games is high, and innovative new titles are consistently springing up for all the major platforms.

To help you navigate the range of popular titles, this article walks you through the best puzzle games on the market. We’ll also take a glimpse at the mechanics and history behind the genre to give you a comprehensive look at the playing field. If you’re ready to try your hand at some of the best puzzle games around, let’s get started!

10 Best Puzzle Games of 2019

We rounded up the top puzzle games of 2019 to make finding your next favorite title a breeze.

1. Candy Crush Saga

Candy Crush Saga

Our pick for one of the best puzzle games for iPhone

  • Platform: PC, iOS, Android, Fire, Browser
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Developer: King
  • Release: 2012

We’ve included a couple viral hits in our top 10 list, but none of them speak to as large an audience as Candy Crush Saga. This breakout puzzle game is popular among audiences of all ages, largely thanks to its addictive match-3 mechanics and easy accessibility. The goal? Players simply swap out different candies on the virtual game board. Get 3 in a row and your score goes up! It’s a novel idea, but it’s addictive mechanics make Candy Crush the perfect title to satisfy your sweet too, er, gaming fix.

2. The Witness

The Witness

Our pick for one of the best iPad puzzle games

  • Platform: Windows, Mac, PS4, Xbox One, iOS
  • Genre: 3D Puzzle
  • Developer: Thekla
  • Release: 2016

The Witness is a unique first-person puzzle game that takes place on a sandbox-style tropical island. The premise? Explore the island and complete challenging grid-based puzzles along the way. With over 650 puzzles to complete, you can expect up to 100 hours of immersive open-world exploration and adventure. The Witness was in development for over 7 years, and the game features a level of detail and polish unseen in most indie titles.

3. Cut the Rope

Cut the Rope

Our pick for one of the best mobile puzzle games

  • Platform: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, 3DS, Browser
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Developer: ZeptoLab
  • Release: 2010

If you’re a fan of physics-based puzzle games, chances are that you’ll dig Cut the Rope. Available for most mobile devices, Cut the Rope offers simple touchscreen-based gameplay that’s as captivating as it is fun. The goal is to feed Om Nom, a little green monster who’s just dying for a snack. To do so, players must cut the rope attached to little floating candies with a simple swipe of the finger. But– obstacles and various physics-based challenges stand in the way. Are you up for the challenge? You can find Cut the Rope on your favorite app store.

4. Two Dots

Two Dots

Our pick for one of the best puzzle games for Android

  • Platform: Windows, iOS, Android
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Developer: Playdots, Inc
  • Release: 2014

Two Dots is a unique puzzle title that’s ideal for quick gaming sessions. The screen features a pinball-like interface, and the game begins when a set of dots is dropped onto the platform. In order to progress, players must connect same-color dots. Do so and you gain points while making space for new dots to drop in. There are various types of combos that players can make with their dots, and the game poses some challenging objectives. If you’re up for it, hop into the game world and give it a shot today.

5. Angry Birds 2

Angry Birds 2

Our pick for one of the best viral puzzle games

  • Platform: iOS, Android
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Developer: Rovio Entertainment
  • Release: 2015

Few games reach the level of success of Angry Birds, and Angry Birds 2 jumps in where the original title left off with the same addictive physics-based mechanics. The premise? Players must use a slingshot to launch their bird into a towering structure off in the distance. Aim true and the structure will crumble. But be wary of insidious pigs hiding within the structure, hoping to sabotage your victory! Angry Birds 2 is an exciting puzzle game that features everything you’d hope for in a smash sequel.

6. Unravel

Unravel

Our pick for one of the best platform puzzle games

  • Platform: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
  • Genre: Puzzle Platform
  • Developer: Coldwood Interactive
  • Release: 2016

If puzzle platformers are your jam, Unravel is one of the best titles on our list. The protagonist of Unravel is a small creature named Yarny, a little red dude made entirely of yarn. To progress through the game, you must unravel him and explore the world, solving tricky puzzles along the way. Unravel features a poetic storyline that’s accentuated by idyllic graphics and a beautiful folk music soundtrack. It’s a great puzzle game for both PC and console owners who want to invest in a game with a full campaign and immersive storyline.

7. Tetris 99

Tetris 99

Our pick for one of the best online puzzle games

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Developer: Arika
  • Release: 2019

Tetris is the game we all know and love, and the latest release is finally here! The best part? It’s free! Tetris 99 is available for download on the Nintendo Switch, and it features a full battle royale mode where players are pit against 99 other opponents from around the world. The original mechanics are kept in-tact, and players must quickly align their pieces to keep from overloading their board. But watch out! Opposing players can now launch obstacles and other nasty surprises in your direction. Ready to give it a shot? Check it out on the Nintendo Store today.

8. Braid

Braid

Our pick for one of the best puzzle games PC

  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Genre: Puzzle Platform
  • Developer: Number None
  • Release: 2008

Widely considered one of the best 2D puzzle games of all time, Braid is a masterpiece of mechanics and storytelling. The game is centered around Tim, a young man who sets out to rescue a princess from her monster captor. But it won’t be easy. You must use your unique time-manipulation ability alongside a breadcrumb trail of clues to track her down. As you beat certain objectives, you’ll collect jigsaw puzzle pieces which can be used to reveal the details of her location. Unlock the last stage and solve the mystery once and for all!

9. Scribblenauts Unlimited

Scribblenauts

Our pick for one of the best action puzzle games

  • Platform: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, iOS, Android, 3DS
  • Genre: Action / Sandbox / Puzzle
  • Developer: 5th Cell
  • Release: 2012

Scribblenauts Unlimited is the 4th game in the series, but it’s widely considered one of the most accessible and exciting puzzle games on the market. The objective is simple: players assume control of the protagonist Maxwell and begin collecting Starites. To aid him on his journey, players must draw different objects on the screen and bring them to life inside the game. Scribblenauts is full of groundbreaking mechanics never seen before in other video games, and it offers the perfect mixture of exploration and objective-based gameplay.

10. Portal 2

Portal 2

Our pick for one of the best puzzle games for adults

  • Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Genre: First-Person / Platform / Puzzle
  • Developer: Valve
  • Release: 2011

Portal 2 is the sequel to the smash hit released by Valve Corporation. The premise? Players advance through levels by creating portals to travel past obstacles. While it may seem easy, the challenges get progressively harder as you progress. You can play through the main campaign alone or grab a friend to assist you in completing the levels. Portal 2 has won countless accolades and remains a fan-favorite in the puzzle genre.

What are Puzzle Games?

A puzzle game is a type of video game that emphasizes problem solving. The problems often use mechanics that require critical thinking, logical deduction, and various other reasoning skills to solve. The genre is known for its creative concepts, and you’ll often see puzzle games utilize abstract rules that spark a player’s curiosity and imagination. Common staples among puzzle games are time limits, limited lives, and high scores. These add excitement to the game and encourage players to continue reaching for new heights.

Puzzle video games are heavily inspired by traditional pen-and-paper games, including brain teasers like crossword and sudoku. In fact, the digital versions of these games remain as popular as ever, and many modern titles make use of the same mechanics. As for more innovative titles, the first puzzle video games can be traced back to the late 1970’s and early 80’s with the introduction of games like Pipe Mania, Blockbuster, and Tetris. They were giant commercial successes that inspired a wave of new games and interesting mechanics.

What’s the outlook now? After a lull in the early 2000’s, the introduction of the smartphone saw a renaissance of puzzle games as they launched into mainstream life. Additionally, puzzle games became the largest game genre on the App Store in 2014. Overall, the genre is at its prime and exciting new titles are released regularly.

Featured puzzle game

General Thoughts on Puzzle Games

Now that we’ve had a look at what makes a puzzle game, let’s go a little deeper with some general thoughts on the genre as a whole.

1. High scores encourage competition.

Puzzle games often make use of high score mechanics that allow players to see how well they (and sometimes others from around the world) measure up.

2. Tetris helped puzzlers go mainstream.

Tetris was released in 1984, and it went on to become a huge commercial success on both the Atari and Gameboy consoles with sales exceeding 30 million units.

3. There are many types of puzzle games.

The puzzle genre is massive, and it includes various subcategories like action puzzlers, hidden object finders, physics titles, and more.

4. They’re modelled after traditional brain teasers.

Puzzle video games are heavily inspired by traditional brain teasers that require players to use their creativity while solving problems with logic and reasoning.

5. Puzzle games are as popular as ever.

The genre is at its prime, and many popular titles are released every year from both indie developers and large Triple-A studios alike.

Further Reading

Dig our puzzle game roundup? Be sure to check out our other game lists featured below: