When we started asking around The Lowdown office for everyone’s favourite mobile puzzlers, we didn’t think it would be such a controversial subject.
You see, it turns out that not everyone agrees what a puzzle game actually is.
So we had to lay down the law a little when it came to compiling this list. We’ve avoided platform games with a puzzle element, like the wonderful Limbo, Leo’s Fortune and World of Goo. And we’re not including any of those gem-matching games either. Sorry, but no.
Instead, we’ve gone for puzzle games that don’t rely on your reflexes so much. These are the kind of puzzlers where you can sit back, put your thinking cap on, and attempt to solve them at your leisure.
So without further ado, here they are. Our first choice was probably the only thing everyone in The Lowdown office agreed on actually. It seems that everyone loves a bit of Monument Valley...
iOS (£2.99) / Android (£2.99)
Monument Valley is an elaborate puzzler with a truly unique style. Each level is almost a work of art in its own right.
You take control of the silent Princess Ida, and help her navigate through a number of impossibly designed monuments. You’ll need to manipulate pieces of buildings, defy gravity and keep an open mind about time and space to help Ida progress through this crazy yet compelling landscape.
The only criticism we’ve heard levelled at Monument Valley is that it’s too short, with only ten levels to conquer. But the good news is that it seems to have inspired a whole genre of puzzle games based on ‘impossible architecture’. So if you’re a Monument Valley fan, check out the likes of Ghost of Memories, Magic Flute, Outside World and Back to Bed.
Lara Croft GO
iOS (£2.29) / Android (£2.29)
Yes, it’s a Lara Croft game, and she’s got her famous dual pistols to hand, but this puzzler is slightly more sedate than the action-packed Tomb Raider series.
Lara Croft GO is a turn-based puzzle game with a selection of increasingly fiendish mazes to negotiate. And because this is Lara Croft, danger is only ever a wrong move away in the shape of traps, enemies and obstacles. We’re talking snakes, saw-blades, boulders, giant spiders and all manner of nastiness.
The mazes are fairly straightforward to begin with, and might involve simply helping Lara find the best way around a path. But as you get deeper into the game, things become increasingly complicated, and you’ll need to start manipulating moveable columns and negotiating rising platforms to progress to the next level.
If you enjoy Lara Croft GO, check out its predecessor based on another popular game franchise, Hitman GO.
Cut the Rope: Magic
iOS (99p) / Android (FREE)
Don’t be fooled by Cut the Rope: Magic’s cutesy looks and cartoon-style graphics. This puzzler quickly becomes as challenging (and frustrating) as they come.
You’re a strange-looking creature called Om Nom, and you’re in a world where delicious candy hangs from ropes. All you need to do is cut the rope and get the candy. But life is rarely that simple, is it? So you’ll need to work out how to use bellows, floating bubbles and other tricks, while avoiding traps designed to steal your candy away from you.
Om Nom can also transform into different creatures with their own set of abilities. So you can fly like a bird and swim like a fish, if you think it’ll help you get your candy.
Cut the Rope: Magic is the latest physics-based puzzler in the popular Cut the Rope series. So if you enjoy it, you’ve got a handful of other similar titles to download.
The Room Three
iOS (£3.99) / Android (£3.99)
If you like point-and-click puzzle games with stacks of atmosphere and a decent storyline to them, then The Room Three is currently the best there is. From the moment a terrifying apparition appears before you on a spooky train journey, you’ll be hooked. Nothing else in your life will matter.
Just like the other two games in the series (both well worth a download), The Room Three is all about puzzle boxes. They're scattered around various rooms, with multiple parts to solve. You’ll do this by pulling switches, sliding things into place and (if you’re like us) blindly tapping everything in sight to try and make some progress.
You’ll meet the craftsman - a strange, enigmatic figure. And you’ll end up playing his game, whether you like it or not. Because it's the only chance you have of escape...
Mobile games don’t get much more immersive and atmospheric than The Room Three. Play it with headphones on in a candle-lit room - we dare you.
iOS (FREE) / Android (FREE)
If you’re into word puzzles, you’ll love Alphabear. If you’re a fan of bears too, all the better.
What you need to do with Alphabear is spell words from the variety of letters you see on the screen. Don’t ask us why, but your words get turned into bears and more letters appear. If you use all the letters on one side of a bear, it grows. That’s the aim of the game – you need to grow them bears with word power!
It sounds easy. And it is – but just keep an eye on the numbers on each letter. This number counts down each time a letter is unused, and when it gets to zero it turns into stone. Not only are you then barred from using that letter, but your bear will be stopped from growing in that direction. Like we said, please don’t ask why all this happens - just enjoy making the best words you can.
Alphabear is made by the award winning developers Spry Fox. If you like it, check out Triple Town, their other awesome puzzler.
What do you think? Are these the best mobile puzzle games around? If you've got any other favourite brain teasers, feel free to share them with us. Comment below.