Cards on the table: we're not the best at puzzle games. We're more word people here. In fact, if you combine all of our blogging brain cells together, we can just about work out how to turn the kettle on (which is good, as we can't function without caffeine). But whilst we wouldn't exactly call ourselves lateral thinkers, one thing we do know is that there is an incredible selection of puzzling delights available in the Dreamiverse, and we're here to walk you through some of the best.
What's even more impressive is the utter variety of puzzling presents found within this list. We've got first-person logic nightmares, action puzzle adventures, mind-melding mysteries, and everything in between.
So get your brain in gear, prepare to focus up, and get your cogitation on as we run through our recommendations for some of the best puzzle games in Dreams.
A Little Perspective#
Estimated playtime: 1 hour
If we were to describe this game in one word, it would be fiendish. You play as a solitary red box that must make its way through a variety of levels, consisting of a bunch of other blocks that you can move across. Simple, right? Well, quite quickly, you'll realise that you can't get very far just by moving forward. Instead, you have to rotate the levels around in order to shift your perception, and if you nudge it just right (like Goldilocks' porridge, innit), you'll find the path forward. But whilst the puzzle mechanics here are cleverly unwound, the wonderfully clean and minimalist art style also creates a feeling that this is much a meditation on the beauty of space and geometry as it is about solving tricky puzzles. But please spare a thought for our poor, befuddled brains as we navigate the 3D rotating intricacies of this puzzling purgatory. Admittedly, that was a bit dramatic, as this game is actually a really fun time. It's also the very definition of compulsive - and we can't think of any game that has made us feel more foolish when we finally stumbled upon the obvious solution that somehow eluded us for half an hour.
Estimated playtime: 3 hours
By far the bleakest game on this list, STRAIN is a game that we've also waxed lyrical about in the past (both in DreamsCom'22 coverage, and our own Weekly Roundups). But we're not done yet, as we also believe that STRAIN deserves a spot on our list of the best puzzle games in Dreams, due to its twisted set-up, disturbing gameplay, and relentlessly grim setting. There's something just so tangibly unnerving about picking up and throwing around a body as a solution to puzzles, adding an extra layer of unease to your unsettled puzzle-solving. The puzzles themselves might start off fairly simple, dragging the body around the environment to activate the next weight-activated switch, but soon develop into something altogether more sinister and challenging. And as you delve into the secrets of the mysterious island you find yourself stranded on, an intriguing mystery unfolds before your very eyes. We guarantee that STRAIN is unlike anything else you've played in Dreams, and that in itself makes it worthy of a place on this list of the best puzzle games in Dreams.
Estimated playtime: 30 minutes
Let's get it out of the way straight away: Sunchild Elaria absolutely evokes the more classic entries in a famous gaming series that we're not going to name here (cough, cough - the one named after the princess), but it also manages to take the fantasy action game in a new direction. This adorable isometric adventure sees you playing as the titular Elaria as she explores a series of floating hexagonal tiles to progress through her adventure. Starting the game with only one floating tile available, it's your job to use your wits and puzzle-solving skills to bring other tiles into the world so there are more options for you to manoeuvre the environment. The toybox style and colourful graphics of this imaginative creation really pop, and it's delightful to peer down at this cosy, handmade little landscape and see the world drastically shift in response to your actions. And, if you want a 3D version of this experience, ColouredLight has even remade the original game as a 3D action-style experience, more simply titled Elaria. Whichever version you choose to go with, you're going to have a great time in Elaria's world.
Estimated playtime: 2 hours
This game isn't just worthy of being on the list of the best puzzle games in Dreams, but should also be on the list of cutest mascot critters in Dreams. If only our cold-hearted corporate overlords would allow us to write such a heartwarming listicle, but alas, they are quite literally robots. [URGENT OIL CHANGE NEEDED AT IMPSIDER HQ. CONCLUDE YOUR HUMAN WORD-CREATION RITUAL ASAP. - Ed.] But forgetting about our terrifying work lives for a second, Pip Gemwalker is a charming yet challenging puzzle game about a sloth collecting gems. Do sloths collect gems in real life? One can only hope, or we're going to have to completely reevaluate everything we know about these long-limbed critters.
Across a variety of finely-sculpted, stylised diorama style levels, help Pip gather riches by using those big sloth claws to dig the gems out of blocks marked with an X. The puzzles here come from navigating the environment; as you progress, more and more gameplay options start to open up to you. There's a nice sense of difficulty progression across the levels: new enemies pop up, more obstacles appear, and the challenges you encounter scale nicely with your playtime. We're not sure if sloths would make good pets, but if we could have a Pip of our own, we'd be very pleased. Because they would acquire oodles of gems for us. And y'know, they're cute. That too.
Estimated playtime: 3 hours
When a puzzle game starts with a disclaimer saying that you will need a pen and paper to jot down clues and answers, you know this ain't gonna be a walk in the park. Indeed, LOCK is one of the most mind-boggling puzzles games ever devised in the Dreamiverse, and it also just so happens to also be one of the best. At its heart, LOCK has a deviously simple premise; there are locks across the deserted island that each require a four letter code to open, and you have to figure out the word for each lock using the clues scattered around the environment. What makes it so difficult is that this game requires some real galaxy brain-level thinking.
Forget thinking outside the box - you'll need to be thinking beyond the universe to solve some of these puzzles. But like all the best puzzle games, the answers are often deviously simple. Both LOCK's game design and presentation are top tier, and the first-person gameplay feels smooth and satifsfying. It will test all facets of your brain, though, including your general knowledge, maths skills, memory, and visualisation. Maths puzzles? Ugh, we just about scraped our way through a GSCE. What it all does add up to (heh), however, is something that we would probably describe as one of the greatest games made in Dreams to date. (Because we already did.) Just remember the pen and paper. You're gonna need it.
LOOKING THROUGH - A Visual Puzzle Game
Estimated playtime: 20 minutes
We've already talked about some of the most fiendish and tricky puzzle games in Dreams, but how about taking a look at one of the most innovative and creative? Todu's LOOKING THROUGH - A Visual Puzzle Game takes a clever concept to its brilliant conclusion, with you utilising one simple tool in your quest to complete the game: a magnifying glass. Historically, we've only used magnifying glasses to scorch ants with the mighty power of the sun, but this seems like a much more wholesome use of one. You'll be presented with a series of different screens, and given a clue to search for using your trusty tool. Its then up to you to find what you're looking for within the variety of options presented to you. The clues range from wacky to mind-bending, and there are some laugh-out-loud visual gags when you do find what you were looking for. Accompanied by some ingenious uses of the controller, Looking Through is a breezy yet brainy treat for anyone looking for a puzzle game that'll make you say, "Huh, neat" at least a few times. Who knew magnifying glasses could be so much fun?
Chip Off the Old Block#
Estimated playtime: 1 hour
Is this a puzzle game or a comedy game? Call us big children if you like, but we spent so much time laughing at the variety of hilarious faces on display in this game that the ratio of puzzle:laughter was way closer than we ever imagined. Yes, Chip Off the Old Block might be a block-moving puzzle game, but it's one where the blocks are always pulling faces at you. Made as part of the Idioms CoMmunity Jam, VinceKully and ghostfruit64 really took the punnery to heart here by creating sentient blocks that are constantly emoting in one way or another: daydreaming, sleeping, worrying, and a whole host of other expressions are on full display here.
But beyond the hilarious facial expressions lies a deceptively deep puzzle game. The objective, simple as it sounds, is to move one block across the top-down level to the green goal square. Yet like many of the games on this list, the complexity quickly ramps up - before long you'll be linking up with multiple other blocks to create larger shapes to fit the goal and navigating treacherous pits across the environments. It lends to a sense of exploration where you'll find yourself making progress, then realising that you've managed to block yourself from completing the level about ten moves ago. Needless to say, you'll be making copious use of that retry button. The funny faces may give this game a real charm and unique sense of humour, but it's the puzzles that will keep your brain engaged throughout the duration of this crafty creation. Come for the humour, stay for the puzzles!
We imagine your mind, much like ours, is probably in state of mush at this point. But if it isn't, then why not check out our Puzzle playlists in-game? Simply locate Dreams By Genre on the front page of DreamSurfing, then head into Puzzle for a load more hand-curated picks.
Even better, given the state of your poor broken brain right now, here's all of our Puzzle playlists in one simple collection, if you'd like to jump in now or add it to your Play Later queue.
Now go have a lie down for a bit. Your brain will thank you later.
The Dreams User Guide is a work-in-progress. Keep an eye out for updates as we add more learning resources and articles over time.