Best Puzzle Games

Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for best puzzle games

Whether you have a family of brain-teaser lovers or you’re the one who loves to challenge your mind, everyone should own at least one puzzle game to help ward off boredom on a dreary day.

Sometimes a jigsaw puzzle is too overwhelming and takes up too much space. Other times a crossword or word search just isn’t interactive enough. That’s where other puzzle games enter the picture. These games can be mazes, brainteasers, strategy games, building games, or other types. These puzzle games help keep the mind sharp and aid in developing critical thinking and strategic skills.

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Puzzles help develop patience and problem-solving and critical-thinking skills in children. For adults, puzzles offer a form of relaxation and meditation while keeping the brain active.

Key considerations

Puzzle types

There is an almost unlimited selection of puzzle games available out there, but a few are the most common. We’ve included some of the most popular types of puzzle games here, but this list is by no means exhaustive.

Maze: The basic concept of a maze is to travel through a confusing path with possible dead ends and wrong turns in order to reach a certain area or make it to the end and receive a reward. Mazes aid in developing patience, memory, and problem-solving skills. Once a maze is solved, the player often feels an “aha” moment of satisfaction.

Modern maze games can be constructed in many different ways. The puzzle can be a cube or a sphere with the maze contained inside of it. You turn the device so a small ball travels through the maze path. There are also maze games in which you construct the maze path yourself, perhaps with the goal of having marbles travel through the maze.

Strategy: Strategy puzzle games often require several steps in order to solve them. There will be many wrong answers but also many right answers for these games. That’s what makes them strategy puzzles. You have to devise a method to find the most efficient way to solve the puzzle.

Many strategy puzzle games require you to unlink pieces from each other or figure out how to open a locked box. Some are classic puzzles from great thinkers in history. An example is the “Chinese Tea” strategy puzzle. In ancient China, Emperor Shennong invented the idea of infusing tea leaves in boiling water. A puzzle was created honoring this invention involving moving pieces around to completely disassemble the puzzle and then putting it back together.

Building: Puzzle games that involve building often have the goal of successfully constructing a creation with a limited number of pieces, traversing a path with marbles or other small pieces, or mimicking a provided design without any instructions. These puzzle games have the most pieces, and they can be played the most number of times without repeating a solution.


Keep in mind where you intend to use the puzzle game before selecting one. If you want to take the game with you while traveling, look for games that have fewer pieces. Losing an essential piece is a sure way to become frustrated with a puzzle game while traveling. If the game is intended to be used at home, you have more options because the size and intricacy of the game don’t matter as much.

Number of solutions

Some puzzle games have only one way to solve them. After you discover this one way, the puzzle becomes uninteresting. While some single-use puzzles take a long time to solve, others are easier. If you know you’re adept at solving puzzles, look for a game that has multiple ways to be solved or multiple levels, so you can use it over and over again.


A puzzle game’s difficulty may be clearly expressed on the packaging, such as for adults only, which most likely implies it’s too difficult for children to play. Or the difficulty may be indicated as an age range, such as for ages 3 to 6 or 10 to 15. Try to select a puzzle game with an age range that will give your children a few years of use.

Some games come in sets that have different levels of difficulty. These are great choices for families with an extensive age range of puzzle lovers. Children can accomplish the easier levels, while adults can be challenged by the most difficult levels.

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For your safety
Because puzzle games are usually handheld items, disinfect or sanitize the pieces to ensure germs and bacteria aren’t transferred to other puzzle solvers.


Carrying case

If a game has lots of little pieces or is designed for use while traveling, it often comes with an accompanying carrying case. A case is great because it is specifically designed for that game, so there are probably special pockets or compartments for the pieces.

Puzzle game prices

The most affordable puzzle games cost between $5 and $10. However, these games may be limited to one use or be quite easy to solve, but there are exceptions to this with some classic puzzle games.

Puzzle games that cost $10 to $20 are more intricate and interactive. These often boast a unique puzzle with several ways to solve it. Any puzzle lover would be happy to own a new puzzle game in this price range.

Puzzle games that cost more than $20 are the most intricate. The set may include numerous different puzzles that all relate to each other or that offer different levels of difficulty. These puzzle games are made from quality materials and built to last. If you know you’ll enjoy the puzzle game for years to come, there’s no problem spending more on it.

Expert Tip


  • Take small puzzle games with you when you travel. The games can help pass the time and keep a child occupied for hours.
  • Store the pieces in a container. If a puzzle game has small pieces and doesn’t come with a carrying case, consider using a reclosable plastic container. With a container that seals tightly, you won’t lose any pieces. A resealable plastic bag would work, too, but it could be punctured or ripped easily by sharp pieces.
  • Set a time limit. If it’s too easy to solve one of your puzzle games, set a time limit for solving it. See if you can solve the puzzle more quickly each time you play it.
  • Take a break. If you become frustrated with a puzzle, take a break and relax before you try again. Often a fresh look at the puzzle will reveal a clue to solving it that you missed before.

Other products we considered

During our extensive search for all things puzzle games, we found a couple more products that are worth mentioning.

We enjoy the MAGIKON Puzzle Toy for its ingenious design and concept. The game is fun for both children and adults, and while it may be easy to take apart, it is way more difficult to reassemble.

Also take a look at the LiKee Wooden Tangram Jigsaw Puzzle, which is a building puzzle game. There are seven wooden pieces with 60 diagram cards for children to try and solve. The seven pieces can be rearranged into different patterns, but only some of them will match the cards. This is great as entertainment and as a learning tool.

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Puzzle games can be addictive. If you find yourself spending large chunks of your day working on a puzzle, try and limit yourself to one hour per day. That way, the fun will last longer, and you won’t sacrifice time you should spend doing something more productive.


Q. How do I select a puzzle game as a gift for someone?
Try and think of the person’s interests and line up your choice with those. If the recipient enjoys crossword puzzles, perhaps look for a similar game that involves words and letters. Remember, it’s usually the thought that counts, not the gift itself.

Q. How do I know how difficult a puzzle game is?
The difficulty of the puzzle is usually explained on the packaging or in the product description. If it’s not listed anywhere, look at online customer reviews. It’s possible other customers have described the difficulty of the puzzle. If all else fails, count the pieces. Often the more pieces a puzzle game has, the more difficult it is.

Q. What if I lose an essential piece of the puzzle? Can I order a replacement?
It’s best to check with the manufacturer of the game. It’s possible you could order a replacement if it’s a piece that people commonly lose. Otherwise, you might have to bite the bullet and get an entirely new game to have all of the pieces.

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