Smartphone touchscreen controls offer a unique opportunity for puzzle game developers. Our pocket devices are uniquely suited for clever puzzle games because they're easy to pick up and play whenever you have a few free moments. If you're looking for a game to test your brain, check some of these out.
And when you're done here, be sure to check out our best games for Android!
The Room series
The Room is a widely celebrated puzzle franchise developed by Fireproof Games for mobile. There are four games in the series that each offer hours of challenging puzzle fun. They're reminiscent of point-and-click classic adventure series like Myst and Siberia that you can easily sink many hours into, so you've been warned.
The latest game in the series is The Room: Old Sins, which we've linked to below, but the whole series is worth checking out if you love a good puzzle. Each of The Room games is a premium title without ads or microtransactions and they're just spooky enough to keep you on your toes.
Mini Metro is an award-winning subway simulator that is steeped with puzzle elements. You're tasked with drawing up subway lines that connect the various stations that pop up as your city expands. You need to make sure passengers arrive where they need to go in a timely fashion, which often requires re-drawing your lines to be more efficient.
With a brilliant minimalist aesthetic, a responsive soundtrack that's fleshed out by the subway lines you build, and a ton of different game modes to enjoy, you will fall in love with Mini Metro. It's probably the best game to play when you're actually on the metro.
Bridge Constructor Portal
Bridge Constructor is a great physics-based puzzle game in its own right, but this spin-off takes the concept and adds in all the wacky elements from Portal and Aperture Laboratories. There are 60 test chambers to complete using portals, along with propulsion and repulsion gels all while avoiding deadly lasers, pits of acid, and sentient turrets.
It's an outstanding cross-over title that provides a challenge that will delight fans of Bridge Constructor and Portal alike. It's an absolute delight to play with tons of Portal references and it even features Google Play Games achievements to aid in the replayability!
NYTimes - Crossword
The New York Times' daily crossword puzzle is arguably one of the most famous ongoing puzzle games of all time, and you can play them all right on your phone — no pencil or pen required — with this free app. To get access to the daily big puzzles you need to be subscribed to the Times, but you do get daily Mini puzzles on a 5x5 board for free.
Each puzzle only takes a minute or two to complete but they're really fun and satisfying ways to start your day. Other puzzle packs are also available via in-app purchases. You get a free week trial to the premium stuff, but as I said above, you'll need to be a Times subscriber to get everything.
Still, this is great for a quick puzzle in the morning when you're drinking your coffee, waiting for the bus, or sitting on the metro.
Threes! is a fun and surprisingly cute number-based puzzle game where your goal is to swipe around the grid and match like numbers. You have to be strategic because if you fill-up the board and run out of moves it's game over! It's a simple game, but man can you spend hours trying to master it.
For a truly unfettered experience, you'll want to buy the full game for no ads or distractions. If you'd prefer to save your money, there's a free-to-play version, but you have to watch ads to earn more plays. It's a bit of steep price for a game of this type, but when the final product is this good, I'm more than happy to support indie developers.
Seriously, check this one out if you live time-killing puzzlers.
Twenty48 Solitaire is an excellent mash-up between the 2048 puzzle game and classic Solitaire. It's varied enough to stand out from 2048's tile-swapping gameplay while adding in some of the more satisfying card tricks from Solitaire games. You set up a row with the right sequence to create a waterfall of cleared cards, which is so satisfying.
You need to be strategic about card placement because it's easy to box yourself in. To prevent those situations, you're given a discard pile that you can use twice before you need to clear them out by watching a video ad. I wouldn't say that the monetization model in this game is my favorite thing, but the gameplay is addicting enough that I do my best to overlook it.
Monument Valley is an award-winning puzzle game that features outstanding art and sound design. You play as Ida, a princess who must find her way through fantastical structures, which you must manipulate and change to complete the path and help her reach her goal.
The controls are simple: tap to move the princess while discovering the different ways you can move the surrounding structures. It's an intuitive experience that forces you to look at things from a different perspective.
The sequel, Monument Valley 2, is much of the same, but in a good way. There are a few additional twists on the formula, but if you liked the first one, you'll appreciate the sequel.
Dissembler is a colorful and relaxing puzzle game that's deceptively simple to play and features fantastic puzzles. At its core, it's a tile-swapping match-three game, and each level requires you to flip the tiles to match up colors.
However, it's so much more than that. Things start nice and easy, with the game laying out basic principles before gradually presenting you with more complex puzzles. Don't fret though because you'll be ready for them. There are over 120 puzzles included with no time limits, move limits, ads, or in-app purchases to deal with.
Like all the best puzzle games, Two Dots is simple to learn, difficult to master, and highly addictive. This is the sequel to the wildly popular Dots game and the objective remains the same: connect as many dots of the same color as you can. The sequel brings new skills to the table, along with 900+ levels to work through.
Once you've completed the first 10 levels, which act as a tutorial, Two Dots offers a linear adventure of sorts in Treasure Hunt, and you unlock a new mode called Expedition once you've reached level 35. There's plenty of variety, fun, and adorable minimalism to keep you going. The soundtrack is something special, too.
The best puzzle games are deceptively simple to play while offering a brain-busting challenge. This describes Patterns, a logic game that has you rotate pieces to create shapes of different sizes. Each puzzle tells you how many shapes to make and how many pieces can be connected for each one.
I swear, sometimes the puzzle looks impossible, and then suddenly it just comes together. If you want to put logic skills to the test, then this is a game you have to check out. There are two modes, a timed and a freeplay one; the former is aimed at people who want the stress and challenge.
Patterns is free to play, although you can buy the developer a cup of coffee via an in-app purchase to remove ads.
MC Esher would be damn proud of hocus, a mind-bending, perspective-based puzzle game that is easy to play, challenging to master, and lets you create and play other user-created puzzles. Your goal is to get the cube to the red finish marker as fast and efficiently as you can.
There are over 100 official puzzles, which require you to swipe to move a cube around the shape. When you hit an intersection between two paths, you can completely change direction along a different path. It's glorious in its minimalism and easy to drop several hours into.
Brain It On!
Brain It On! is an addictive physics-based puzzle game that requires you to think outside the box to solve each level. Using your finger or a stylus, you draw lines, shapes, weighted objects, or whatever else you think will solve each screen. Sounds simple, right?
Things get progressively more challenging and creative as you progress through over 200 levels, with stars awarded for completing the level, finishing under the time limit, and minimizing the number of shapes used to solve. In the free version, future levels can be unlocked by earning stars. You can pay just to remove ads, or remove ads and add hints.
Hitman was the first gaming franchise Square Enix converted into its clever GO turn-based puzzle format, and it holds up. You play as Agent 47 and must work your way through heavily-guarded compounds using all the same techniques found in the full Hitman games: disguises, distractions, sniper rifles, and of course, 47's iconic Silverballer pistols.
There are multiple ways to beat each level, whether you want to be silent and sneaky, or forceful and deadly. You pick what kind of Hitman to be, as you work towards assassinating your main targets. The game also looks awesome and it's sure to please any Hitman fans out there who are looking for a bit more assassination on the go.
Lara Croft GO
Tomb Raider's Lara Croft is back in this challenging entry that adds new wrinkles to the turn-based puzzles introduced with Hitman GO. Lara Croft is athletic and adventurous, and her GO game reflects that with turn-based puzzles that have her dodging boobytraps and deadly enemies as you work your way through 115 levels split into seven chapters.
It's an award-winning game that lures you in with its outstanding visuals and keeps you playing with its increasingly challenging puzzles. There are unlockables and some harrowing turn-based action that keeps you engaged. Like Hitman GO, there are several ways of completing a level.
Deus Ex GO
Deus Ex is the latest franchise to get the GO treatment, and it just might be the best one yet. With visuals that reflect the cyberpunk stylings of Deus Ex, along with new hacking gameplay elements, you play as Adam Jensen who's working to unravel a complicated mystery as you sneak your way through a well-guarded fortress.
This game goes so well with the Deus Ex universe and works perfectly with the GO formula. It probably features the most fleshed-out storyline of the three. It also sports time-limited puzzles along with a level editor, so you can design, share, and play levels from the game's community.
I remember spending a whole afternoon diving into this game when it came out a few years ago. I still go back from time to time to re-experience the puzzles and spend that much longer in the world of Deus Ex (which is one of my favorite video game franchises).
Total Party Kill
Most games that present you with a small party of playable heroes with unique skills challenge you to reach the goal while trying to keep everyone alive. This is not the case in Total Party Kill, where sacrifices must be made and only one hero — either your sword-wielding Knight, ice spell-casting Wizard, or ace archer Ranger — needs to successfully reach the exit of the 60 deadly dungeons presented in this game.
There's plenty of strategy, puzzle, and platforming action in Total Party Kill. It's a must-play game for any fans of retro platformers or quick puzzle games. And if you like quirky humor, then you'll get a kick out of Total Party Kill.
Vectronom is a psychedelic puzzle platformer where you'll need to stick with the beat if you want to succeed and solve each colorful level. The game features intuitive controls for controlling your cube that will have you swiping and tapping in rhythm. The levels are constantly changing in sync with the thumping beat of the music, so you'll need to keep up with the rhythm to avoid falling into traps.
One of the highlighting features of Vectronom is the soundtrack. It's fantastic. The game ups the ante as you go along, with the beats getting fiercer and the puzzles getting harder. It's also regularly updated with user-generated content. I love this game and it's worth every penny.
I don't think we need to spend too much time here. Without exception, Tetris is the most iconic puzzle game ever created. This is the new official Tetris app for Android and it offers great touchscreen controls, although only the classic mode is available. There are five fun themes to choose from, including a total throwback to the Game Boy days.
All told, this is a pretty pure version of Tetris to enjoy on your phone. It's free to play with ads, but you can remove them with a one-time $5 in-app purchase.
Thumper: Pocket Edition
Assault your ears and eyes with Thumper, an awesome rhythm game. It's powerful, it's glorious, and it's just the right amounts of weird and creepy to keep things interesting. The soundtrack is a crucial piece of this game and so you'd expect it to be great. Spoiler: it is.
The premise is simple: you're a space beetle hurtling ahead at blistering speeds as you confront a giant head. It sounds pretty stupid, but that's not the point of the game. There are nine levels for you to conquer and each one is a treat. The boss battles are something else, but I don't want to ruin it for you.
Thumper is a one-time premium purchase with no ads or additional microtransactions. I have the PC version and I love it, and the mobile version is just as good.
The House of Da Vinci
The House of a Da Vinci is a 3D puzzler that requires you to solve various puzzles (duh), escape from certain rooms, explore and find hidden objects, and otherwise have a good time. It asks you to pay attention to your surroundings and to keep your wits about you.
The touch controls are well-optimized, never giving me any trouble as I navigated the game world. The aesthetic and setting are interesting and special, with plenty of mechanical puzzles and cool setpieces. Finally, the story is good enough to keep you going and wondering what's going on.
Transmission is all about making connections to establish lines of communication. Your goal is to solve each puzzle to create a network and man, it can get intense. There are 70 levels to beat with 146 stars to collect, so completionists out there have plenty to do.
It supports Play Games achievements, multiple ways to solve each level, and an awesome soundtrack. There are several hours of content here to enjoy and it's a cool way to visualize how networks work. The minimalist art style is great to look at. Transmission is just an awesome game, what else can I say?
All That Remains: Part I
All That Remains is less of a puzzle game and more of an adventure that contains a ton of puzzles. Either way, it's an excellent escape room-style game. Besides just being the name of a pretty good metalcore band, it features an interesting premise that is high stakes and keeps you on edge the entire time. It can be stressful at points, for sure.
You wake up in a strange bunker and you must escape each room. In each, you'll find different logic puzzles and riddles. It also looks fantastic and sounds great, too. You'll communicate with the player character's sister — who alleges your character was locked in the bunker for his own good — over a two-way radio.
It's got an unsettling feel about it, so if you have fears about being locked in a bunker, it's not for you. Otherwise, if you enjoy escape room games, give All That Remains a try. It's a one-time premium purchase with no ads or IAPs whatsoever.
The Eyes of Ara
Ever play Riven or Myst? The Eyes of Ara is in much the same vein — an open-ended adventure where you solve puzzles, unlock clues, and uncover pieces of the story bit by bit. It's a bit obtuse, but that's what makes it enjoyable and nostalgic. Riven was not an easy game for younger me to beat, so I have a soft spot for games like this.
The 3D environment is stellar and looks good for a mobile game. It's a premium title that doesn't contain any ads or IAPs, so you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the intense puzzler fun. It took me a little while to beat, so you're getting a lot for your money.
Hello Neighbor is a stealth horror puzzle game. This was ported over from a PC/console release and it handles surprisingly well on mobile, though it is quite pricey to dive in. Still, it's worthwhile.
You play a snoopy neighbor who's spying on a fellow neighborhood resident. Said person is up to something and you're determined to find out what he's hiding in his basement. You'll be breaking into his house over and over, but he learns your patterns each time and sets up defenses to counter you. In response, you have to come up with a new strategy by circumventing what he's established.
Like I said, this game will run you a pretty penny, but I think it's worth it if you want a strategy/puzzle game with horror elements. It's definitely a weird premise, but it's fun if you're into what it has to offer. It's very highly regarded over on Steam, so you should take that as a good sign for the Android version. It's free to install and try, but then you'll be asked to fork over the $15 to unlock the full experience.
Challenge yourself with a new puzzle game!
Puzzle games are among the best games to play on your phone — though there are lots of other games we love.
Any of the games on this list are well worth the money, but if you want to puzzle for free I'd highly recommend downloading Transmission, probably the best free puzzler on this list, and the NYTimes Crossword app for a daily dose of 5x5 Mini crosswords while you enjoy your morning cup of coffee.
If you're down to spend a bit of money, you can't go wrong with The Room series, which are some of the most beautifully-designed games in the entire Play Store and feature hours of puzzle challenges. I also need to shout out Bridge Constructor Portal because it's the perfect crossover between two great games and is probably the closest we'll ever get to a new Portal game.
Chess Light is more of a puzzle game that takes obvious inspiration from Chess than an actual chess game. It might have appeared in our best chess games roundup, but it certainly belongs here, too! You have over 180 puzzles at your disposal and six difficulty levels.
There's a hint system for you if you get stuck, but where's the fun in that? Chess Light is free with no ads, so have at it! It can get really challenging, but I encourage you to stick with it.
Turn It On!
Turn It On is all about solving black box puzzles with gears, levers, cogs, switches, dials, and more. Some of these challenges are quite intense and will really push you. You not only need to figure out what each thing does, but also the correct timings to eventually solve the puzzle.
The best part about this game is that you'll have no idea what's going on from the outset. That's part of its mystique and fun factor. But if things get a bit too easy for you, there are additional badges to chase, which you earn by completing levels quickly. This game surprised me with how fun it is and it's definitely a hidden gem on the Play Store.
Updated December 2020: Added Chess Light and Turn It On! to our list!
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