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4 Indie Puzzle Games for PC: Innovative Brainteasers
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4 Indie Puzzle Games for PC: Innovative Brainteasers

Zoey HughesThere is a great variety of indie puzzle games for PC. If you want logic puzzles, check out ‘SquareCells’. If you’re up for a multiplayer bomb-defusing challenge, check out the unique ‘Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes’.~ Zoey Hughes

Get Ready to be Stumped

Puzzles are a wonderful way to relax, when they’re not tear-your-hair-out hard that is. It doesn’t matter what the pace, at the end of the day we just want to be challenged in new ways.

I’ve come up with some real doozies that you’re probably not aware of!

Rest assured, once you try to solve these puzzle games you’ll never forget them.  

‘Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes’ (Steel Crate Games, 2015)

You can expect to die a lot and friendships will be tested but if you successfully defuse a bomb you and (former) friends will share the glory…

Straight out of the gate, this is one of the best indie puzzle games. It’s a really innovative multiplayer puzzle that challenges your communication and your general smarts.

The basic premise is that you are locked in a room with a ticking bomb. Your friends are locked out of the room and can’t see the bomb. But they can see the manual for defusing it. You and your friends must clearly communicate in both directions. You’ll need to describe the bomb accurately, along with any changes. They’ll need to find the relevant help in a timely fashion and walk you through it in language you understand.

Bombs are procedurally generated, so every go will be a challenge. Plus you’ll want to swap who’s in with the bomb (no one likes to be blown up repetitively) to mix up the dynamics.

You can expect to die a lot and friendships will be tested, but if you successfully defuse a bomb you and your (former) friends will share the glory.

In a nice touch, you don’t even need multiple copies of the game. The bomb manual is available for free so anyone with an electronic device can be the expert as long as they can talk to the other person in some form.

The bottom line is that this is a stressful and often noisy experience that everyone can enjoy.

You’re stuck with a bomb and only your friends can tell you how to defuse it in time.

‘Hamilton’s Great Adventure’ (Fatshark, 2011)

It feels simple and casual and it does start off that way but levels get pretty merciless by the end…

‘Indiana Jones’ was an archaeology adventure for all the family. ‘Hamilton’s Great Adventure’ attempts to do the same, but without the charm of Harrison Ford of course.

This is one of those PC puzzle games that will utterly addict some people and just not be some people’s cup of tea at all. I fall firmly in the first camp. While exploring tombs, various traps and enemies will get in your way, meaning it is one swift in and out while attempting to grab every piece of loot. There is no time, and often no way, to go back for something shiny so you must plot a route that takes you via all the treasure to the exit.

It feels simple and casual and it does start off that way, but levels get pretty merciless by the end. You can always call in some help in the form of a co-op partner who plays your pet bird Sasha.

Of course it would be simple if all you had to do was run round mazes.Life is never that simple so be prepared to thwart such foes as piranhas, golems and agents employed to stop you.

It may all be a breeze for Indiana but it’s hard work for Ernest Hamilton.

Fast-paced maze-solving action with plenty of puzzling constraints to master; it gets tough.

‘SquareCells’ (Matthew Brown, 2015)

This is a stonkingly addictive and relaxing logic game…

If you’ve spent far too much of your life solving Sudoku and similar puzzles, I apologise. You may lose a lot more time to ‘SquareCells’.

One of the most understated indie puzzle games PC gamers have seen in recent years, with ‘SquareCells’ it’s back to basics time. This stripped back logic experience looks calm and relaxing, but will test you by the end.

Similar to ‘Minesweeper’ and ‘Picross’, there are numbers surrounding a square grid. The numbers say how many squares should be in that line. You then click the squares to allocate them. Obviously it gets a lot more complicated than that, but a basic understanding is all that you need at this point.

Unlike ‘Minesweeper’ there is no luck involved (that first click is death too many times!). If you think things through logically, the answer will always appear. It may be tricky and multi-staged to get to the answer, but it is always obtainable with the clues you’ve been given.

This is a stonkingly addictive and relaxing logic game that I hope we’ll see more of in the future. The only con is the number of puzzles included – 36.

This ambient logic puzzle is fantastic if short.

‘Infinifactory’ (Zachtronics, 2015)

You’ll be judged on how much space your line takes up and how many cycles it takes to solve the puzzle…

Like so many Americans, you’ve been abducted by aliens.

But these guys aren’t going to probe you; they’re going to make you work. In this 3D building puzzler you are forced to build construction lines to make items that will be used for nefarious purposes.

Each puzzle takes the form of a successful amount of something being made. Complete enough puzzles to fill your quota and you’ll advance to the next zone and get a bit more story. Maybe you’ll find out exactly what you’re building!

Then comes the tricky bit. Once you’ve come up with a solution, it is blueprinted into the system. Now, when you replay you’ll see what you did last time and have to try to improve on it. You’ll be judged on how much space your line takes up and how many cycles it takes to solve the puzzle.

If this sounds familiar, it’s possible you’re thinking of either ‘SpaceChem’ or ‘Infiniminer’. Both of them were created by the same developer and elements from both were included in this more accessible title.

Aliens force you to build factory lines as efficiently as possible – how rude!


Zoey’s Verdict

Puzzles really do come in all shapes and sizes don’t they? Every one of these games is a completely different style of experience. Multiplayer puzzles are so rare, ambient puzzles so hard to get right. It’s just impossible to stick to one style of puzzle game when the quality of these indie games is so high.

Can you pick a favourite? If so tell me why you like it in the comments.

My name is Zoey Hughes and I′m a video games contributor for itcher. I also write and review for various gaming websites. My first console was the ZX Spectrum and I’ve been utterly hooked ever since. I love all things game related and can usually be found with a controller in my hand, but I’m also passionate about reading, fashion and music. I live a quiet life with my husband/co-op partner whilst I try to keep my competitive side hidden.
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