Best Puzzle Games for Xbox One TechnoBuffalo 2022
Puzzle games are a great genre that allows you to think while still sitting down to enjoy a video game. Xbox One does a great job of cultivating a list of puzzle games that deliver a variety of experiences from completing puzzles on a desert island to guiding two brothers on an epic quest. Out of all the options The Witness delivers a stellar experience with hundreds of puzzles to solve in a beautiful world.
- Best Overall: The Witness
- Best Value: Inside and Limbo Double Pack
- Best Co-Op: Unravel Yarny Bundle
- Best Casual: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
- Best Story: Q.U.B.E. 2
- Best Philosophical: The Talos Principle
Best Overall: The Witness
Welcome to a deserted island filled with hundreds of puzzles settled into a beautiful world. The Witness is all about solving 2D grid-based puzzles, and each one is a 2D representation of a grid map. You'll use a variety of different methods to solve them, and while things start quite easy, they don't stay that way. In the early game, puzzles might be solved within minutes, while down the line, you could spend an hour or more to solve one of them.
While the puzzles are all 2D grids, the rest of the world in The Witness is gorgeous. The island looks and feels alive with color and foliage from vivid greens, vibrant oranges, bright blues and deep browns depending on where you are. There are several different biomes that you'll explore as you complete puzzles, and each one looks as great as the last. This is a super realistic game in terms of graphics, and the textures aren't always super smooth, but it doesn't detract from the art style as you play.
The one thing that The Witness lacks is a cohesive narrative. It's a game about solving puzzles and doesn't try to cram in more than that. You won't find much aside from a few hidden audio files. While some gamers might not like this, it works very well to keep you focused on the 400 puzzles you'll need to solve.
Overall, The Witness delivers an excellent experience for anyone who loves brain teasers or puzzles. The beautiful graphics add to the experience, and the game is never capricious in how to solve something. Even better, it teaches you new methods for completing each puzzle you come across before upping the ante with something new.
- Hundreds of puzzles to solve
- Gorgeous art style
- You can abandon puzzles and return to them later
- Puzzles get very tricky
Best Value: Inside and Limbo Double Pack
Inside is a game designed in dark hues. Pitch black and moody gray dominate the environment with only a few pops of color here and there to give things more depth. The followup to Limbo, Inside is another 2D platforming puzzle game, and now you can get them both in one package. In the early parts of the game, you'll break into a military complex, and things only get weirder the further into the campaign you go.
The gameplay is relatively simple with only two buttons to interact with the world, one for jumping and another for interaction. The only other thing you'll touch to play is for movement. Simple mechanics relay how tricky some puzzles can get, and you'll need a variety of methods to solve them. Along with Inside, you also get Limbo, which means twice brain-teasing puzzles to solve.
- Two great games for once price
- Impressive physics-based puzzles to solve
- Plenty of checkpoints
- The campaign is quite short
- No instructions or tutorials
Best Co-Op: Unravel Yarny Bundle
The Unravel series takes you down to the ground in a delightful mix of platforming and puzzles where you control a bundle a yarn. In the first game, Yarny is a red bundle capable of running and jumping through each level. In Unravel 2, a second Yarny joins the fun, allowing you to play with a friend. While both games offer up an excellent puzzle and platform experience, Yarny 2 offers up a great co-op experience that should be checked out.
There are some slight changes to the gameplay in Unraveled 2, but that's mostly because the game is now built to be played by two players. This means that the puzzles require cooperation to complete. Not just on the screen either. Some of them need precise timing to pull off, which means communication with your partner is mandatory if you want to succeed. Puzzles can get pretty tricky, but thanks to the hint system it's rare that you'll get stuck for long. If you wish to check out Unraveled or Unraveled 2, you're in luck because you can snag both games at the same time in this two-pack!
- Cooperation is vital to solve problems
- Great tip system means you never get stuck for long
- Fun gameplay mechanics
- Story lacks panache
- Trial and error methods to solve puzzles gets old fast
Best Casual: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Two brothers embark on a quest through the world in the hopes of saving their dying father. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a game that explores themes of grief, acceptance, and brotherhood, all without ever using dialogue. That's because the brothers speak in an unintelligible language that lacks subtitles, but you can tell what's going on by the body language and interactions that occur on screen.
You play as both brothers, which gives the game an interesting co-op feel while still being single player. The world you move through is also vividly alive. While you can clear each area quickly by solving the puzzles, plenty of items and objects are waiting for you to interact with and deepen the story. The big pitfall to Brothers is the movement system. It uses a dual joystick mechanic which lets you control both brothers, but with one joystick attached to one brother and the other connected to the opposite brother, things get confusing fast.
- Great story
- Lovely graphics
- Controls are tricky at first
- Character models aren't as well rendered as the environment
- The campaign is only three hours long
Best Story: Q.U.B.E. 2
You play as Amelia Cross, an archeologist stranded on an island with a strange monolith filled with puzzles. To find your way back home, you'll need to traverse this peculiar landscape and use the strange gloves you find to manipulate the blocks inside. Each room has a puzzle you'll need to complete before moving onto the next one to get closer to finding a way home.
The basic mechanics of gameplay require you to move different colored cubes to solve riddles. Each puzzle is fairly complex requiring multiple moves to manipulate it to where it needs to be. At times, you may be scratching your head, but it works out well once you figure out how everything interacts. Thankfully, the game teaches you different aspects of play as you progress, which means that even if it takes some work, you can solve each riddle you encounter.
- Simple gameplay mechanics
- Great story
- Freedom to solve puzzles your way
- Limited options for interacting with puzzles
- You must solve your current puzzle before moving forward
- Puzzles can be quite difficult
Best Philosophical: The Talos Principle
The Talos Principle blends fun puzzle-based gameplay with a philosophical quest to figure out who you are. You find yourself in a world filled with puzzles, but whether it's real or some simulation you've been thrust into is part of the mystery. If you want answers, you'll need to solve puzzles to get them. Further confusing matter is the voice of Elohim who informs you that if you manage to solve every puzzle you can win eternal life.
The mechanics of The Talos Principle rewards you for being deliberate rather than just trying to finish out each puzzle you come across as quickly as possible. When you get started, the gameplay is relatively easy but it doesn't take long before you need to come up with complex solutions for the puzzles you encounter. Along with puzzles, the game explores what humanity is. You'll come across terminals, emails, audio logs, and even quotes from famous philosophers through history like William Blake.
- Great graphics
- Over 100 different puzzles
- Lack of a tutorial makes early gameplay frustrating
- Puzzles aren't particularly challenging
Every game that made our list delivers a different take on what it means to be a puzzle game. Some of them concentrate simply on the puzzles that you have to solve, while others deliver great visuals or an excellent story along with riddles to get you thinking. Out of every puzzle game available on Xbox One, the absolute best is The Witness.
This game delivers the type of experience that every puzzle game should emulate. There are hundreds of riddles to be solved, and no two are quite the same. You'll have to think about what you are doing before solving them. It's also a beautiful world to explore and one that doesn't weigh you down in excess content. From top to bottom, it's a fantastic puzzle game and one that shouldn't be missed.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jen Karner has been a gamer for more than twenty years and has spent countless hours banging her head against the wall as she tries to figure out the solution to the puzzles she encounters. You can follow her on Twitter
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