The best Xbox puzzle games you should play now
Complexity in puzzle games doesn't always necessitate extensive gameplay or high-quality graphics. Even smaller games can still be visually impressiv...
Complexity in puzzle games doesn't always necessitate extensive gameplay or high-quality graphics. Even smaller games can still be visually impressive and captivating.
The Xbox provides access to some of the finest puzzle games that are easy to learn but difficult to let go of.
These puzzle games offer unique challenges and satisfying solutions, making them an absolute must for puzzle enthusiasts.
Complexity doesn't have to require hundreds of hours within a game. Stunning visual effects don't necessarily mean having the latest graphics engine with the largest development team. And captivating gameplay doesn't necessarily demand online multiplayer with constant updates. Sometimes, all of that can be achieved in a smaller package that still delivers a significant impact.
There are puzzle games that meet all these criteria and simply provide enjoyment. Currently, the Xbox offers access to some of the finest puzzle games in the genre. Our favorites are those that are easy to learn but difficult to set aside.
Updated on September 10, 2023, by Amanda Hurych: To further emphasize the sheer brilliance of these puzzle games available on Xbox, we have listed relevant information about several of the titles currently available. From the developers to the initial release dates, we have included key points about these impressive games.
If the mind-boggling nature of Portal appeals to you, Superliminal should be on your radar. While Portal and Portal 2 taught you to approach puzzles with a focus on portals and momentum, Superliminal challenges you to tackle puzzles with a perspective-based approach. You know how when you hold an object in front of you, close one eye, and compare it to its surroundings, it can appear larger than it actually is? The puzzles in Superliminal revolve around this type of thinking.
Whether it's about differences in size, shadows, or simply optical illusions, the key to solving these puzzles lies in thinking outside the box while staying within the realm of possibility. The sense of satisfaction you will experience when you discover the exact perspective needed to enlarge a stepping stone or reveal a hidden door is unparalleled.
Return Of The Obra Dinn
Return of the Obra Dinn is an incredibly creative puzzle game set aboard a trading ship in the year 1802. You assume the role of an insurance investigator tasked with uncovering why the missing ship arrived at a port without a living crew. You must use your Memento Mortem device to examine the final moments before the death of each crew member. By scrutinizing these brief memories, you will ultimately be able to determine how each of them met their tragic fate.
The puzzle of Obra Dinn may initially seem a bit daunting, but with a few tips and recommendations, you will soon be able to unravel this complex, intricate mystery like a pro. This game is a grand, intricate logic puzzle that is highly satisfying to solve.
Outer Wilds is an expansive exploration game where you visit various planets in your solar system aboard your own small spacecraft. However, not everything is as it seems. You are trapped in a time loop, just moments before a supernova. You must explore the solar system, solve various puzzles, and uncover the connections to figure out what's happening and if there's anything you can do to intervene.
Not only are there numerous puzzles to solve, but the game is also filled with incredible hidden details and Easter eggs to enjoy. Outer Wilds is a truly captivating experience. Every location is fascinating, and the secrets will enthrall you, compelling you to explore every nook and cranny. Outer Wilds is a game that is an absolute must-play.
- May 28, 2019
- Mobius Digital
- E10+ For Everyone 10+ due to Fantasy Violence, Alcohol Reference
Escape Academy is a truly excellent game for fans of escape rooms. You have joined the Escape Academy and are now training to become the greatest escape artist of all time. Along the way, you will meet and get to know fellow students as you strive to solve countless puzzles and earn a high grade.
There are many different rooms from which you must escape, each with its own themes. You can enjoy these challenges alone or with a friend. If you truly love real-life escape rooms, you should definitely give this game a try to truly put your creative thinking skills to the test.
- July 14, 2022
- Coin Crew Games
- T For Teen due to Violence
We Were Here Series Bundle
The We Were Here Series Bundle brings together all four games into one extensive collection. These are fantastic cooperative puzzle games that you must play with your friend. In each game, you typically play as a duo, lost in an icy wilderness. As you search for shelter, you become separated and must use walkie-talkies to communicate with each other while navigating through these puzzle-filled structures.
The series features many creative puzzles that will challenge your mind. Each puzzle is tied to what your friend can see. You may have to guide them through a maze or instruct them on which symbols to select to crack a code. Sometimes, these tasks are also time-limited, adding a real sense of urgency to the experience. The We Were Here Series is an incredible experience for fostering a bond between two people.
ChromaGun is a puzzle-solving game available on Xbox that revolves around solving color-based puzzles. To play the game, you use a large ChromaGun to shoot colors onto walls and various floating worker droids in the room.
When a droid is colored, it will move towards the wall that matches its color. You must arrange the droids in the correct patterns to unlock the room. Primary colors can also be mixed together to create new colors, adding further complexity to the game.
As the name suggests, Q.U.B.E. is a puzzle-solving game where you interact with various cubes and shapes within the walls of your room. You wake up in a strange room after a mysterious incident. You wear a pair of gloves that allow you to interact with specific shapes hidden in the walls.
The goal of the game is to unlock each room by solving the puzzle, allowing you to progress until you reach the exit. Each block has a different function depending on its color, and the rooms become increasingly challenging as you advance.
The Turing Test
The Turing Test is a first-person puzzle-solving game developed by Square Enix, where you control an international space agent named Ava Turing, who works on one of Jupiter's moons, Europa. Ava is part of a research team but awakens from cryogenic sleep and must assist her teammates when a problem arises with the power system.
To save it, she must complete tests that involve redirecting energy to open doors and other machines. Additional elements and objectives are added to the puzzles as the story progresses. The game received mostly positive reviews from critics.
Asemblance is a mind-bending psychological thriller from a first-person perspective, but it also includes many puzzles. This astonishing game draws inspiration from popular series like The X-Files and Black Mirror.
When you wake up, you find yourself trapped in a strange machine, forced to piece together memories to figure out what has happened to you and the world around you. However, you must determine which memories are real and which are part of the simulation. The only guiding force is a disembodied AI voice that tells you what to do.
From the creator of Braid, this outstanding puzzle experience takes you to an island where nothing but puzzles exist. Some are easily recognizable and simple enough to solve. Others require more skill and patience. But one thing is certain: The Witness is fantastic.
There are hundreds of puzzles to solve, and as you progress, they become increasingly complex, to the point where you might partially stop to find inspiration. There isn't much of a story, but that doesn't diminish the exciting challenges awaiting you on the island.
- January 26, 2016
- Thekla Inc.
- E For Everyone due to Alcohol Reference
One of two creations by the studio Playdead, Limbo is a 2D puzzle-platformer infused with an atmosphere of tension and mystery. This indie title has received as many awards and enthusiastic reviews as possible for an indie game.
However, you must experience it for yourself. The dark and gray world will captivate you and leave you breathless. The visual effects alone deserve praise, but the gameplay is also satisfying. Intriguing puzzles block your path, and you must navigate through and around them.
- July 21, 2010
- T For Teen due to Animated Blood, Mild Violence
Inside proved that Playdead's first attempt in the realm of 2D puzzle-platformers was no fluke. Their mastery of this genre was fully showcased in their follow-up project and it was received just as warmly, if not more so, than the first game. The story revolves around a boy who becomes entangled in a frightening world from which he must escape.
However, the narrative will captivate you and only release you once you have become invested in the life of this unfortunate boy. There is so much done right in Inside. It deserves your time and attention.
- June 29, 2016
- M For Mature 17+ due to Blood and Gore, Violence
From Valve (the people behind Steam) comes one of the greatest puzzle games of all time and one of the most influential video games overall, regardless of genre. This is where we met GLaDOS. This is where we learned that the cake is a lie. The sheer pop culture references practically demand that you play Portal.
However, that doesn't diminish the gameplay. Who wouldn't want to create portals to jump through? One blue. One orange. And the physics are never the same. Discovering how to solve the puzzles in Portal is extremely satisfying. Just take good care of your companion cube.
More of a good thing is a good thing. That's why Portal 2 is among the best puzzle games you can play right now. The Perpetual Testing Initiative is back and better than ever. Portal 2 brought new puzzles and new ideas that allowed for more challenging obstacle courses.
It also introduced the ability to play with a friend and design your own puzzles. Honestly, anything that brings us back to wielding the gun that shoots orange and blue portals is alright. Plus, GLaDOS is a potato. One of the smartest machines embedded into a potato. Priceless.
- April 18, 2011
- E10+ for Everyone 10+: Fantasy Violence, Mild Language
Human Fall Flat
No Brakes Games developed Human: Fall Flat, a surreal physics-based puzzle game where you explore a quirky landscape with clay-like humanoid characters. The open nature of the world is captivating, and you must navigate your way out by solving puzzles. As expected, physics plays a role in the game.
You can play alone or with some of your friends, and the physics-based aspect is a truly entertaining experience. The silliness in Human: Fall Flat is not often found in the puzzle genre, making it a refreshing change from some of the darker or more serious games you might play.
Human Fall Flat
- July 22, 2016
- No Brakes Games
- E for Everyone
Puzzles are challenging. Puzzles are fun. But they can also be enjoyable with a friend. The combination of intellectual and strategic skills of two minds helps overcome the challenges in a puzzle game. Unravel 2 takes successful elements from the first game but introduces a new character, allowing two players to utilize the cooperative mode and explore the world together.
This option is fun if you want to relax with a friend and overcome obstacles together. There is something beautiful about playing as two Yarnys connected by a single thread.
The Talos Principle
A first-person puzzle game, The Talos Principle draws upon philosophical science fiction to create a unique world. As a robot created by your maker with a singular purpose - to overcome challenging puzzles and prove your technological worth. However, existential questions arise as you delve deeper into the world.
You will begin to question your identity and purpose beyond the limitations intended by your creator. These are profound themes. Most puzzle games do not venture into the realm of philosophy, but The Talos Principle is not like most games. It is a journey that will linger in your mind long after you finish playing.
Life Is Strange
Dontnod Entertainment has a firm grasp on the episodic adventure format. This series has been so successful that it now has several sequels that you can also play. The puzzles in Life Is Strange may be fewer in number than in most games, but the adventure is still noteworthy. There are puzzles that need to be solved, and some of them are traditional obstacles that you must overcome.
In the game, you follow Max Caulfield, a high school senior who discovers she can rewind time. This revelation alone would captivate the attention of most teenagers, but Max must also find a way to save her best friend Chloe. That's all we want to reveal. The rest you'll have to discover for yourself.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Ubisoft is not the first studio that comes to mind when thinking of an artistic puzzle game. However, the studio's dedication to storytelling is evident in Valiant Hearts: The Great War. The First World War may not attract the same attention in the entertainment industry as the second global conflict, but this puzzle game aims to rectify that.
It's a story of intertwined destinies in a place where love and happiness are hard to find. The protagonists of Valiant Hearts are trapped in the trenches of war. A terrible affair indeed. Fortunately, they have loyal dogs accompanying them through the horrific war landscape. Get ready for a pack of tissues. You might end up with moist eyes in the end.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War
- June 25, 2014
- Ubisoft Montpellier
- T For Teen due to Violence, Blood, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco