By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. Close
Best Puzzle Game of 2021

Best Puzzle Game of 2021 - Article

by Lee Mehr , posted 6 days ago / 1,773 Views

Whether you're racing against the clock or afforded all the time in the world, the satisfaction of a completed puzzle can't be understated.  Whereas most critic and fan darlings in other genres tend to rely on established templates, puzzlers don't get enough credit for their inherent flexibility in mechanics or tone.  2021's nominees highlight that in obvious ways. Some have a heavier emphasis on darker narratives or world-building, while others emphasise mechanical challenges.  Out of all the genre awards, these nominees are arguably the most varied.

  

The Shortlist:

  

Unpacking

  

Little Nightmares II

  

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain

  

12 Minutes

  

  

  

  

The Winner:

Little Nightmares II

Runner-up: 12 Minutes

As someone who wrote up this genre award for 2019 and 2020, it's a pleasant surprise to see these story-focused puzzlers net 1st and 2nd place.  Why Little Nightmares II earns gold isn't strictly thanks to the puzzle-platformer mechanics; it's how those mechanics come to life in the title's unsettling atmosphere and world design.  There's also the addition of Mono to consider.  As our own Issa Maki put it: "Puzzle-solving becomes a vastly more manageable task when Six is around; very rarely will players ever be put in a position where they have no idea about what to do next."  By harnessing the great qualities of the first title and incorporating an AI companion to improve pacing, Tarsier Studios knocked it out of the park.


More Articles

11 Comments
SuperNintend0rk (6 days ago)

I still haven't gotten around to playing either of the Little Nightmares games yet but I've only heard great things!

  • +2

Completed the first one and really dug it. Tarsier know how to capture atmosphere.

  • +6

I love atmospheric games so I'll definitely check them out. Hopefully they come to Game Pass.

  • +3

Little Nightmares 2 got my vote in this category by default because I just hadn't played any other game listed in the puzzle category this year, but don't let that imply to you that it was likely undeserving. I had more than a small amount of fun and just love this particular kind of creepy atmosphere. The ambience of the Little Nightmares games reminds me of the Tim Burton movie classics I grew up with a lot.

  • +1
Comment was deleted...
Comment was deleted...

Yeah I definitely get some Tim Burton vibes from it. It also reminds me of Coraline, which I love!

  • +2

I'm just stunned somebody actually remembers Coraline besides me! I really enjoyed that movie too, and, straying slightly outside the genre to highlight more great stop-motion animation, the also woefully underappreciated Kubo and the Two Strings.

  • +1

I also love Kubo! I wish more games (and movies) had so much style and atmosphere.

  • +2
Bandorr (5 days ago)

Glad 12 minutes didn't win. It falls to pieces fairly quickly.

  • +1
Shiken Bandorr (5 days ago)

Yeah it was a cool concept, but I ended up shelving it before it was over. It had a lot of potential for what it was, but not much beyond that sadly. Hopefully this concept is revisited by another dev team, and ultimately delivers a better game.

  • +3