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Best Puzzle Game of 2020

Best Puzzle Game of 2020 - Article

by Lee Mehr , posted on 13 January 2021 / 2,141 Views

There's nothing like a good brainteaser.  When you condense most modern games down - especially action titles - you're typically reaching a zen-like state through split-second decisions and forward momentum.  Puzzle games typically have the opposite approach: seeing a problem, sitting back to think it through, and solving it.  When done right?  They're capable of capturing the same sense of reward as a photo finish in a race or a visceral killing blow in a shooter.  Even though only one winner can be selected, all of these nominees are worth it for any fan of the genre.


The Shortlist:


 Puyo Puyo Tetris 2


Call of the Sea


Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics


Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead





The Winner:

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics

Runner-up: Puyo Puyo Tetris 2

It's always an uphill battle to compete against a compilation of such age-old classics.  It's even in the title!  However you feel about considering a collection of puzzles technically released before 2020, the way developer NDcube translated them into new gaming hardware is what makes 51 Classics qualify here and succeed as one of the Switch's best games of the year.  As our own Stephen LaGioia said: "When it comes to local 2-player romps and online offerings, Clubhouse Games just may be the best multiplayer title since Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Mario Party".  Even as a Call of the Sea fan, I can't disregard that level of praise and the insane proposition value on offer.

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siebensus4 (on 13 January 2021)

Well, the quality of Clubhouse Games regarding presentation is astonishing compared to other similar titles.

  • +5
mZuzek (on 13 January 2021)

I'd hardly call Clubhouse a 'puzzle' game

  • +1
Dulfite mZuzek (on 13 January 2021)

"a game, toy, or problem designed to test ingenuity or knowledge."

  • +1
Machina mZuzek (on 13 January 2021)

It's a compilation game, but that's not a category we have (and I'm reluctant to add new categories just for a year, just because one or two game releases that year would fit better in it than the standard categories).

Many of the games within it are puzzle games. There are also a fair few strategic board games in it, so an argument could be made for strategy as well, although Clubhouse Games being Best Strategy sounds a bit... off.

So I think on balance the puzzle category was the best fit for it.

  • +3
Machina Machina (on 13 January 2021)

To add to that: many of the nominees each year fit very awkwardly into genre categories, either because they feature multiple genres and so blend the definitions, or because they don't really fit perfectly into anything, or because the genre expectations we gamers have are more rigid (and perhaps old fashioned) than is ideal for defining the hundreds of games that are released each year.

It’s imperfect but I’m not sure there’s a better system we could use. One thing I really wouldn’t want to do is return to the old system we used to allow games to be nominated in multiple categories, because then in years with a very clear Overall GOTY winner we’ll end up with it sweeping not just the 'special' categories like Best Narrative, Music Score, Art Direction, etc. but also the genre categories like Shooter, Action/Adventure, and RPG. That’d be very boring.

We could add more genre awards, which I’m open to, but it’d need to be a genre where at least four games each year of a decent quality are released, otherwise we’d end up with lacklustre, undeserving shortlists and winners.

  • +2
mZuzek Machina (on 13 January 2021)

Yeah, that's fair. I think that within these strict genre boundaries, Party would be the most fitting for Clubhouse, and I imagine there are a decent amount of good party game releases each year. But then again, a party game often belongs to other genres too.

  • +5
Machina mZuzek (on 13 January 2021)

True. And I think Fall Guys would've worked better in Party too. So in hindsight maybe we should've added that as a new genre.

I'll keep an eye out for (well received) games that could fit into a Party genre award over the next year - if there are enough then we'll add it as a new category for the next set of GOTY Awards.

  • +2