There are a few ways developers can make things interesting if they have a standard puzzle or platforming game (especially if they're inspired by games from the N64). Mixing the two genres together is almost always a great option. Most platformers feature puzzles at some point, so creating one with puzzles even more heavily in mind is a fantastic way to satisfy fans of both genres.
There’s about as much that goes into making a good puzzle as there is that goes into making the absolute best platformers. It’s a careful balancing act to create a thrilling but intellectually stimulating challenge, and these games managed to do that in spades.
While there have been similar games since, Limbo still stands as one of the best experiences the genre has to offer. The dark tale takes you through some seriously creepy set pieces, and a few puzzles that may leave you stumped for a bit.
If most people were honest, they’d admit to getting stuck at the spider puzzle for quite a while. The best part is there are even trickier puzzles to come, and a great narrative to understand the deeper you dig into the game.
Fez was a surprising little hit that seemingly came out of nowhere and hasn't had a sequel. Just about everyone who enjoys a tough puzzle will find something to love in Fez. In fact, some puzzles in the game have been so tough to crack that entire communities have had to come together to tackle them.
Running around as Gomez, it’s your job to make your way through a world filled with tricky puzzles that include both 2D and 3D elements. The rotating gameplay manages to keep every moment feeling as fresh as possible.
Depending on who you ask, VVVVVV might be one of the most innovative puzzle platformers in decades. It managed to take 2D gameplay and make it feel fresh in a way that a lot of games can’t quite match.
How many platformers make it so that you can’t even jump? VVVVVV does exactly that. Still, it somehow manages to feel as exciting as the best platformers and even trickier than some of the best puzzle games thanks to how much outside-of-the-box thinking you’ll have to do.
There’s a reason that if you ask most people to name a puzzle game, Portal will instantly spring to mind. It’s a game that has become synonymous with tricky platforming and brain-wrinkling puzzles.
Combine all of that with a fantastic narrative and one of the most memorable video game villains of all time, and you’ve got pure magic. The game isn’t anything too difficult, but it doesn’t ever seek to hold your hand either, especially considering Glados will be there to make fun of your failures the entire time.
6/10 It Takes Two
One of the most charming puzzle platformers of the last few years, It Takes Two has been delighting people since it was released. The title has a unique charm in the fact that it needs to be played with two players.
That means you can experience your favorite genre with a friend or loved one as you attempt to repair a broken marriage in the most unexpected way possible. There are also some seriously dark momsnets involved for those who are a fan of that kind of thing.
If you’re looking for a fantastic little game with a lot of personality, Unravel is the game for you. You play as the adorable creature known as Yarny as it explores the world. That sounds simplistic, but the story to be uncovered is surprisingly engaging.
Considering the character you play is a kind of yarn creature, it only makes sense that many of the puzzles need to be solved using string. Learning the unique mechanic will provide an “aha!” moment on the regular. Even better, there’s also a sequel.
The entire Trine series is loved by fans of the puzzle platformer genre, but to this day, a lot of people still look back on the original game fondly. You control three different types of characters to make your way to the end of the various levels.
With a knight, wizard, and thief at your disposal, you can choose to tackle the game by yourself, or with others. By the end of the adventure, Zoya, Amadeus, and Pontius might just be your new favorite characters in the puzzle-platformer genre.
3/10 Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
While it’s probably not what most people think of when they hear the term platformer, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker certainly makes the cut. It may seem overly childlike to some, but the cute style is just a layer of charm that adds to the surprisingly tight gameplay.
The game has a few fun twists to enjoy as you play through the levels, but you’ll be happily dashing through stages with both Captain Toad and Toadette in order to defeat the nefarious and pesky crow Wingo.
2/10 Portal 2
If the first Portal game set the standard for what a puzzle platformer could be, Portal 2 smashed that standard and managed to stand in a league of its own. It manages to innovate at just about every turn.
While even classic puzzle set-ups were brought back, entirely new mechanics and ideas were worked into the fantastic narrative. Lovers of the first game all rejoiced when they were treated to the devious return of the always sassy Glados.
Gris might just be a perfect game. It’s a simple little thing, but it's visually unique throughout its runtime. You take control of Gris as you struggle to bring color and life back to the world.
While the fun puzzle-platformer gameplay is what you’ll end up picking up the game for, you’ll end up staying for the fantastic little story that is buried just beneath the surface. In no time at all, you’ll need to press on, even in the face of the toughest puzzles, to learn everything you can about Gris.
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