This is the second in my series about unique digital puzzle games, and will be focused on puzzle platformers. The third post will about puzzle-driven games, and you can check out the first post on narrative-driven games here.
Available on: Mac, Windows, Linux, Xbox 360, Playstation 3
What is it?
An oldie but a goodie (hard to believe it’s been 10 years already!), Braid might seem like a traditional platformer at first glance, but the main mechanic of the game actually centers around the protagonist’s ability to manipulate time. The player uses this ability to stop and rewind scenarios, using creative problem solving to optimize conditions that allow the character to proceed. Text passages throughout the game slowly unfold a narrative, giving the player purpose and enhancing the overall concept.
An intriguing puzzly twist on a traditional platformer.
Creative variations on the mechanic as the game goes on.
The resonant premise of “undoing your mistakes.”
A lot of heart and soul went into this game, and it shows.
Available on: Mac, Windows, Linux, Playstation 3/4/Vita, XBox 360, iOS
What is it?
Fez is set in a three-dimensional world being represented in two dimensions… from all sides… but not all at once. In addition to jumping, climbing, and walking, the player can rotate between four 2D views of the 3D world (like the sides of a cube) revealing new paths by connecting otherwise inaccessible areas while they try to collect cubes in order to open more doors in the secret hub of this multi-world universe. Various environments (you could call them rooms but they are all small islands floating in the sky) are connected through doors, many having multiple gateways connecting to various branches in that world. On top of all that, there are extra layers of puzzle that are not essential to completing the main goals of the game, but serve as delightful Easter eggs if you are clever enough to figure them out.
A brilliant mechanic of switching views on the same area offers a ton of variety and exciting gameplay.
THERE ARE SO MANY WORLDS. Every single time I found a new door and it expanded the map, I marvelled at how enormous this universe was.
Layers of puzzling. From the straightforward finishing of a level, to strange monuments you can decode, and more, there is a lot of content in this game. And you get to do secret things in order to open even more secret things!
Available on: Mac, Windows, Linux, Playstation 3/4/Vita, XBox 360/One, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch
What is it?
Limbo is a 2D side-scroller in which the player guides an unnamed boy (or rather, his shadow) through dangerous environments and traps. It starts without any tutorial or preface, letting the player learn the language of the game on their own. The boy travels through different environments, but there are no separate rooms or levels, only one continuous path. Frequent death is to be expected, and is in fact what leads the player to find solutions that allow the boy to move forward. The game is presented in minimalist black and white tones, creating an atmosphere that ranges from film-noir-like mystery to gruesome death by giant shadow-spider.
Intuitive and clever gameplay.
The atmosphere, morbid as it is, is simultaneously both simple and arresting. The lighting, animation, and soundtrack in this game add up to something really special.
If you prefer something linear with a shorter time commitment, this is a good choice. It can be completed in a couple of sittings.
What are your favorite platform puzzle games?