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Digital Game Recommendations Pt. 4

Last year I wrote 3 posts with digital puzzle game recommendations:

Since then I've played several other noteworthy games and thought they warranted a new post, especially with so many folks being stuck indoors these days. You may notice I left out the word "puzzle" in the title of this post, and that is because the first item on the list is Slay the Spire.

Available on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One, Mac, Linux

What is it?

This is not a puzzle game, but if you like puzzles you may enjoy it. Though I warn you now: it is addicting as heck. Slay the Spire is a strategic deck-builder with turn-based combat where you battle monsters by creating synergies using different cards. If that doesn’t sound super unique or exciting, allow me to admit that I’ve sunk in dozens and dozens of hours into this game - it’s great.

Why play?

  • There are 4 characters to play with, each with different abilities and different sets of available cards. You can put together many different synergies with each character’s cards, so while the monsters don’t have a ton of variety, there are many strategies to victory, which keeps the game interesting.

  • When you first start out, there are lots of items to unlock, and if you’ve beaten the final boss you can always give yourself an extra challenge by starting to ascend to higher levels.

  • There are daily challenges and custom setups you can put together, plus some ridiculous trophies to win (like having 99 strength, etc.) There is a lot of replay value, which is good since a full run through (for me) takes an average of about 2 hours.

Available on: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows

What is it?

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter is a narrative-driven puzzle game in which the player investigates a series of events that led to the disappearance of a boy. The focus of the game is on exploration and discovery, and puzzles mostly involve reconstructing sequences of events from the past. The world is a bit large for the amount of content, and walking across long stretches of nothing became a bit tedious at times, but there are enough cues and guidance to keep it from being frustrating.

Why play?

  • Puzzles that allow you to discover the narrative by reconstructing the past.

  • An engaging story about a family, murder, and a dark underbelly of events.

  • Nicely rendered graphics and thematic atmosphere.

Available on: Nintendo Switch, Mac, Linux, Windows

What is it?

Don’t let the minimal/old school aesthetic fool you -- the gameplay here is innovative and really pushes the boundaries of what it means to be a game. It actually reminds me of one of my favorite childhood games, Chip’s Challenge, in which the player has to solve spatial puzzles to maneuver between rooms, collect keys, etc., but what makes Baba is You unique is that in order to beat the game, the player needs to change the rules. By pushing around different kinds of blocks, the player can create combinations of instructions that manipulate items in the game space. What does this mean? For example, a rule may read ROCK is STOP, which means your character cannot go through rock walls. But if you change the blocks to say ROCK is PUSH, suddenly you can push through rocks and get to where you need to go! It sounds simple when I explain it that way, but the setup of the levels makes it anything but.

Why play?

  • Thoughtful and challenging puzzles.

  • The concept of this game is brilliant.

  • The above two are good enough reasons, just try it out.

Available on: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows, Mac

What is it?

Glass Masquerade is basically a digital jigsaw puzzle with a small twist - the pieces are irregularly shaped, and the design on them is hidden until you pick one up. Each puzzle is a stained glass panel inspired by a different country. There’s not a ton to say as it is rather straightforward, but if you want something simple and zen, it’s a great choice.

Why play?

  • Pretty graphics and relaxing atmosphere.

  • It’s really satisfying to see the puzzles come together.

  • It’s great for when you don’t want to dive into something intense, because you can complete one panel in a short sitting (5-10 minutes).

Disco Elysium

Available on: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows

What is it?

Disco Elysium is a beast different from any other game I’ve played. I write this with the disclaimer that I haven’t gotten that far in the game, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the unprecedented sophistication of gameplay in this role-playing mystery. Taking the role of a detective investigating a murder, players have enormous freedom in this game to explore, interrogate people, pursue side-quests, build up your character and actually affect the course of the narrative. I imagine it’s possible to sink hundreds of hours into this game. The one downside for me was that I felt I spent a little too much time reading dialogue, but that may just be par for the course with RPG games of this nature.

Why play?

  • Insanely expansive world with a ton of freedom to explore different quests.

  • Lots of characters and dialogue, with meaningful player interactions in the narrative.

Available on: Windows, Mac, iOS

What is it?

Made by the creators of Her Story, this is a similarly narrative-driven game. The goal is to strategically use different search terms in a video archive to find clips of webcam footage and piece together a story. Keep in mind this game is basically watching videos, so it may not be for everyone, but it’s an interesting way to expand what a game is. There are also no “puzzles” per se, but at the end of the game there is a series of questions to answer, which you may or may not be able to succeed at depending on how much important information you discovered from your searches. Caveat: If you haven’t played this but it interests you, I would suggest playing Her Story first.

Why play?

  • An interesting and engaging story.

  • Unique gameplay mechanic that simulates a more detective-like approach than many puzzle games.

Have you played any puzzle video games you would recommend?

1 comment

1 Comment

Andrew Fanning
Andrew Fanning
Oct 15, 2020

I found your site out of a desire to purchase the emerald flame, but thank you so much for these blog posts! They are a joy to any puzzle lover.

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