We now turn to a genre that I keep doing poorly in, but people keep sending me keys to check out. The puzzle genre continues to be a favorite with a wide variety of games to check out for 2022.
Honorable Mention: The Entropy Centre
The Entropy Centre follows in the footsteps of Portal with a mysterious company, something has gone wrong, and it’s up to us to fix it via puzzles. Our mechanic du jour this time is rewinding time, as we’ll need to solve puzzles in reverse in order to do the necessary steps to make it through. The story and lore is quite interesting, with information delivered through the environment and emails all around.
I did find the puzzling got a bit tiresome about 75% through and I stopped playing when one puzzle just annoyed me. If you’re looking for a puzzle game that breaks the laws of physics, then this is a good one to check out.
Taija plays similarly to The Witness as a quasi-open-world puzzle game as you try to figure out what is going on and where you are one puzzle at a time. Like the game it’s taking inspiration from, you’ll explore the world finding puzzles made up of various mechanics in different degrees of difficulty. The further you go, the more advance they get and puzzles begin to combine mechanics to add to the complexity.
My big problem with this one, much like The Witness, is that the onboarding could be better for new players. I ran into the same situation that stopped me from playing The Witness, I found a puzzle that I had no idea what the logic was to it, brute forced it, and then got frustrated and stopped playing. Taija is not a puzzle game for beginners, but if you’re looking for something with a challenge to it, I would highly recommend it.
#2 The Last Cube
The Last Cube is a great example of adding aesthetics and lore around a puzzle game to help elevate it. Taking place on “Cubeworld” it’s our job to reunite the various faces each with their own unique power…by solving puzzles of course. The entire lore of the game makes it stand out, as we learn all about cube-based hierarchy and class systems. Each world introduces you to a new power that can be activate by whatever face is facing up on your cube. This leads to the challenge of maneuvering around to get the right face for the right situation.
There is a lot going on in the game for advanced players — secret levels, bonus objectives, collectibles, and more. This is one of those games that if you like the base concept, then you’re going to have a lot of game to enjoy. While cubes may not be the most striking videogame characters of the year, this is a fantastic puzzle game to play.
#1: Last Call BBS
Despite the name, Last Call BBS is in fact not going to be Zach Barth’s last title. As a swan song for Zachtronics, this game represents a collection of puzzle designs and mechanics which you could argue could or could not be made into full games. If you like puzzle games, especially Zach’s penchant for challenging ones, then I’m sure there is going to be at least one here that’s going to be your favorite.
My personal favorite was the Picross-styled one followed up by the body horror puzzle game, yes, there is a body horror puzzle game in this set. I don’t know if I would recommend this for someone who is not a Zachtronics fan, but the variety of puzzle games and designs makes it an easy pick for my #1 this year.