Types of Puzzles in Games
Logic Puzzles: Think Sudoku or Minesweeper, which demand pure deductive reasoning.
Pattern Recognition: Bejeweled or Candy Crush have you spotting patterns among chaos.
Narrative Puzzles: In games like “The Witness,” the puzzles are often woven into the story.
Physics-Based Puzzles: Ever played Angry Birds? It’s essentially a lesson in casual physics.
Inventory Puzzles: These are common in adventure games where you combine items to advance. “Ah yes, combining a rubber chicken with a pulley can obviously make an improvised grappling hook,” said no one ever, but it works!
Environmental Puzzles: Titles like “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” make use of the game world itself as a puzzle.
Best Practices in Puzzle Design
Accessibility: Puzzles should be designed with varying levels of difficulty to cater to a broad audience.
Feedback Loops: Provide clues or rewards for partial solutions to keep players engaged.
Scalability: Design puzzles that can be made easier or harder, depending on the player’s progress.
Story Integration: If applicable, the puzzle should feel like a natural extension of the game’s world, not an arbitrary obstacle.
Player Choice: Whenever possible, offer multiple ways to solve a puzzle, honoring different kinds of thinking.
Test and Iterate: The golden rule of game design. If a puzzle stumps your test audience, it likely needs reworking.
These puzzles require understanding and manipulating the game’s physics. This might involve moving objects, creating momentum, or using forces like gravity or magnetism.
- Half-Life 2
- The Talos Principle
Manipulation and Interaction Puzzles
These involve interacting with the environment in specific ways, like pushing levers, moving blocks, or aligning objects.
- The Legend of Zelda series
- Tomb Raider
Light and Shadow Puzzles
Puzzles based on light and shadow often require casting shadows in certain patterns or directing light beams.
- The Witness
These puzzles use sound or music as their main element, where players might need to follow audio clues or create musical sequences.
- Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Pattern and Sequence Recognition Puzzles
These require players to recognize and replicate patterns or sequences within the environment.
- The Witness
Environmental Transformation Puzzles
These involve changing the environment itself, such as altering the landscape, changing weather, or shifting between different dimensions or times.
Optical Illusion Puzzles
These puzzles play with perspective and perception, requiring players to view the environment from different angles or under different conditions to solve them.
- Monument Valley
Navigation and Exploration Puzzles
These require players to navigate the environment in specific ways, often involving mazes or complex environments where the challenge is to find the right path or uncover hidden areas.
- Dark Souls
These puzzles are deeply intertwined with the game’s story, requiring players to unravel plot elements or character backstories as a means to solve them.
- Gone Home
Logic and Deduction Puzzles
These require players to use logical thinking or deduction, often involving solving riddles or unraveling complex clues embedded in the environment.
- Sherlock Holmes series
- Return of the Obra Dinn
Possible Puzzle Mechanics in Unreal Engine