Some games are about grabbing a sword and battling your way through legions of enemies. That can be a fun way to blow off steam, but sometimes you want a quieter and more contemplative approach to gaming.
Mobile puzzle games tease and challenge your mind. It’s about figuring things out, not fighting through them. Check out these entertaining games that combine beautiful gameplay with a need for brainpower.
1. The Room
You are on a train, reading a strange journal referring to infernal boxes and a fevered mind. You see hints of dark happenings. Suddenly, a mysterious box appears and you must investigate it. This is how The Room Three from Fireproof Games begins. It’s the third in a series of puzzle-based games that take you through a series of rooms full of interactive objects designed with a steampunk flair.
The puzzles can sometimes be very challenging. You tap, push, and swipe at objects and figure out the sequences of events that are required to move forward. The games invoke a dark and moody sense of adventure and discovery as you piece together the storyline behind your predicament. The first three games are all worthy of a play-through. You will understand why fans are clamoring for the series to continue with The Room Four.
Just keep in mind that you may enjoy this visually detailed game the most on a device with a larger screen. Tablets are especially ideal.
2. Forever Lost
As with The Room series, there are several installments in the Forever Lost games from Glitch Games. You will want to start at the beginning with the point-and-click adventure. It takes place in an abandoned asylum, which automatically gives the game a creepy atmosphere. Your goal as a gamer is to figure out how you got there and who you are.
Forever Lost is atmospheric and stocked with plenty of puzzles you will need to conquer in order to reach your destination. You will look for messages on walls, find unsettling symbols along the way, and play mini-games within the main games. There are three interconnected episodes of Forever Lost available as separate games. Together, they tell a complete story.
In Machinarium, you play as a cute robot consigned to a junk pile that puts himself back together and heads off on a quest to find his robot girlfriend. The game features a beautifully distinctive artwork style that makes it feel like you’re playing inside a work of modern art.
Machinarium takes you through a series of puzzles. You collect inventory items that come in handy later in the story, but the focus is on the visual experience and the adventure. There is no dialogue. The game unfolds with a storyline involving a world run by robots, a group of evildoers known as the Black Cap Brotherhood, and a robot mayor in need of help.
Though Machinarium was originally released for computer operating systems, it translates beautifully into a mobile touchscreen experience.
You might not expect a game about watching trees grow to be both interesting and engaging, but the very unusual game Prune will convince you otherwise. Prune is quiet and contemplative. It’s inspired by Japanese art and challenges you to raise a digital tree by using your fingers on a touchscreen.
The game’s maker, Joel McDonald, describes it as “a love letter to trees. A game about the beauty and joy of cultivation.” Gentle music accompanies your tree-growing adventure. Your goal is to grow your tree toward the sunlight while strategically pruning branches. You must protect it from the dark and nurture it. In return, it will bloom for you. The game is both relaxing and increasingly challenging as you move through the levels.
Prune is hard to describe. It’s very different from almost any other game on the market. To discover its depths, you must play it for yourself.
5. Monument Valley
It’s hard to know what to expect when a game describes itself as “an illusory adventure of impossible architecture and forgiveness,” but that cryptic phrase will make sense when you actually play Monument Valley. The game’s story follows a princess named Ida who must navigate maze-like structures filled with optical illusions. Mind-bending visual artist M.C. Escher would have loved this game.
As with the other games on our list, Monument Valley is stunning to look at. The beauty of the world extends to the puzzle-solving format. You must interact with the environment to help Ida work through each geometrically designed setting. The gameplay takes on a meditative character as you explore the lovingly rendered environments and work to move Ida through the puzzles.
The main Monument Valley game may feel a little short, though it lends itself to replays. If you want to broaden your gaming horizons, you can add a paid expansion pack called Forgotten Shores from within the app and open up many new levels to explore.