This recurring feature aims to showcase some of the most interesting, fun or otherwise noteworthy free puzzle games made by members of the Thinky Puzzle Games community over the last few months. As usual, these are just my personal picks I’ve narrowed down from a larger group of great games. All of these games can be played free in your browser, and they’re presented roughly in the order they were published. In addition to the games featured here, it’s worth checking out the entries from the 2nd Thinky Puzzle Game Jam which took place in July.
Give Up the Ghost
Free puzzle games often keep to a very minimal number of moving parts, favoring lean elegance and taking one specific mechanic to its logical extremes. Give Up the Ghost by gate is more generous than that: a bountiful number of colorful toys await you throughout this “checklist” of shape-pushing puzzles. You’ll duplicate objects, unlock doors, perform addition, travel through portals and more, all rendered in a charming pixel-art style. Spreading these ideas out over 50 challenging levels, Give Up the Ghost is definitely the standout “commercial-sized” title from this quarter.
Museum of Microban
Sometimes I’m eager to recommend a game, but don’t want to say too much about it because that would spoil the fun. If you’re generally familiar with sokoban or PuzzleScript, Museum of Microban by Sky Chan is likely to give you a good laugh.
PuzzleScript is quite an aesthetically limiting medium. That makes it all the more impressive and fun when someone manages to combine mechanics and visuals into something really thematic and flavorful. Gorgons’ Gaze by John Thyer is one such game: avoid locking eyes with the terrifying creatures while maneuvering the calcified corpses of previous would-be-heroes onto switches to open the way forward.
Hats Off is a wacky platformer about putting things in their proper places and wearing way too many hats. This isn’t the only game about tidying up that Holy Mahogany has released recently: I also thoroughly enjoyed the unique mechanics of Putting the Blocks Away. It was tough choosing which to feature on the list, but I think the brighter colors and silly antics of Hats Off makes it my favorite of the two. I tip my hat to this very fun new voice in the puzzle web-game scene.
Ever wanted to be a hamster traversing a multi-leveled logic maze, hunting for delicious cheese? I had never dreamed up that particular fantasy, but Rampster! by Patty gave it to me anyway. There’s a certain feel to untying the game’s knot-like levels that distinguishes it from the average PuzzleScript game. Playing with a 3rd dimension is always fun, and it has some great visual flair too: adorable animations and a neat progress bar on the bottom of the screen that gives a nice sense of progression.
Snakes have a long history with puzzle games. Their serpentine shape is perfect for packing into tight, grid-based spaces. In SNEKS by Freezedice and Raindrinker the spaces are tight indeed, leaving just enough room to shuffle multiple snakes around the constrained levels until they’re all where they need to be. I play a lot of PuzzleScript games using arrow keys, and sometimes it’s nice to be reminded how fun it can be to play with mouse controls: pulling the snakes around by their heads is strangely satisfying.
Like a Hot Knife Through Butter
Speaking of satisfying mouse controls… I’m not sure I’ve ever played a puzzle game more satisfying than Like a Hot Knife Through Butter by pancelor. Click and drag sticks of butter to send them sliding across the floor, leaving a greasy trail in their wake. Your goal is to use this butter to quench all of the red-hot knives in each level. In addition to being very tricky, there’s so much polish and juiciness here to please the senses: the way the butter jiggles as it bounces around, the sound effects as it slides across the floor, and the clean cut when the knives melt right through.
If the image above looks like an incomprehensible jumble of cobbled-together nonsense, that’s because it is. Don’t worry though: it also contains four time machines! You’ll need to schedule the activation of various pieces of this Goldbergian setup so that consistent time loops are created: you can’t have a ball arrive from the future if you don’t commit to sending it back to the past later on. I love Chrontraption. It’s a joy to play a puzzle game that doesn’t take place on a grid, makes you think in unusual ways, and still offers a challenge. Knexator takes one more step towards his destiny of cracking the code on time travel.
Handshakes by Pet Pumpkin, Damaskino and Trumpetguy is quirky, silly, and very fun. These two smiling fellas desperately want to clasp hands, but vexing sokoban-esque puzzles keep getting in the way. Each hand can only stretch so far, a clever spin on a move-counter that forces you to think efficiently. Bouncy music, sounds and animations contribute to a playful overall vibe. The game may start off a little slow, but quickly introduces some interesting (and thematic) mechanics.
There are so many engaging little puzzle games being released that it’s truly difficult choosing which to feature, and it feels like a shame to leave some of them out. In case anyone’s read this far and is still hungry for recommendations, here are a few more neat games that I considered for this list:
Thanks for reading the second issue!