The puzzle games of 2021 not only brought the mind-blowers, but they also showcased some of the most striking art and design games of any genre. From the pictorial world of Chicory to the black and white art style of TOEM to the visual storytelling of Unpacking, puzzle fans have had great experiences this year.
IGN’s winner for the best puzzle game of 2021 is …
Chicory: a colorful tale
Imagine a top-down adventure similar to Zelda’s, but the whole game is a giant canvas where paint is used both for puzzle solving and for the plot. This is the genius of chicory, where your artist production can grow shoots in tall plant platforms, light up mushroom-filled caves, burn obstacles, and guide paint-thirsty worms, all while rendering the more and more colorful picnic world. Her clever puzzles are never frustrating, and best of all, are often thematically linked to Chicory’s emotional story about impostor syndrome, mental health issues, and what it means to be a creator. Backed by beautiful music from Lena Raine, full of cute characters and hidden secrets, and at all times attentive, grounded, and empathetic, A World of Chicory interactive coloring book is a joy to explore. – Rebecca Valentine
For more information, see IGN’s review of Chicory: A Colorful Tale.
After thinking about portals, non-Euclidean physics, relative gravity, and forced perspective shenanigans, I wasn’t sure how a puzzle game could come up with stranger ways to surprise me – but the fractal world of Maquette certainly has. success. It’s lovely, the dynamic levels are nested in ever-increasing versions of themselves, cleverly allowing you to influence their layout through manipulation of your own smaller version of that level. Drop a small key into the model and a big key will appear behind you, but remove an item and you’ll have your own portable version instead. While this concept is entertaining enough thanks to its short runtime, it’s also paired with a straightforward but still quite sweet story about how a relationship evolves that makes its puzzles a bit more personal. – Tom Marks
To find out more, consult IGN’s Maquette magazine.
TOEM is a puzzle game, but not in the way we’d expect. Yes, it’s a world filled with doors, unlocked as you uncover miniature mysteries in his world – but he’s less concerned with solutions than with self-expression. Almost all of the quests in the game are completed, at least in part, using a camera, which actually means I spent more time getting exactly the right shrewd plan (I might want the hang on a wall somewhere!) know what to do. It creates a beautifully relaxing atmosphere, not asking you “How do you solve this problem?” “, But rather,” How do you remember solving it? ” – Joe Skrebels
To find out more, consult IGN’s TOEM magazine.
The hidden depth of unboxing may come as a surprise if all you’ve seen of this little box unboxing game is the satisfying gifs of arranging dishes in neat piles on a shelf. On the surface, Unpacking is all about finding the right place for everything that is important to an anonymous protagonist throughout their life, movement after movement, from childhood to adulthood. There’s nothing slyly complex about the task, stories of young gamers putting GameCubes in the kitchen aside. Rather, Unpacking is an enjoyable series of sweet organizational puzzles adorned with cute, colorful art styles and a calming soundtrack. But at its heart is an emotionally unexpected story told entirely through these organizational puzzles and the simple act of finding and creating space. – Rebecca Valentine
To learn more, see IGN’s Unpacking review.
World of zookeepers
Conceptually, Zookeeper World is a match-three puzzle game like many before it, and it might not be your favorite genre of game – but it’s also so much deeper than that, and not just because that you can use your progress through its 275 levels to build a zoo with playgrounds and popcorn machines and animals that you can dress up in chef hats. More importantly than the super cute zoo building feature, the match-three vanity also plays with special combos and special obstacles with different behaviors inside cleverly formatted and always challenging level designs. If you like to hone your gaming skills to any degree, Zookeeper World is uniquely suited for taking your understanding of its systems to the extreme while giving you the chance to learn a new technique or familiarize yourself with a new challenge for overcome it. And if you’re a legitimate zookeeper, you can redo all 275 levels to get a Gold Star in each. – Tina Amini
All IGN Best Of 2021 Game Categories
The IGN Best of 2021 awards were designed by:
Lead Design + Artistic Direction: Julia Rago
Animated Graphics: Will Batchelor