The tragedy of Threes! is that its designer, Asher Vollmer, worked hard to create a truly original puzzle game mechanic only to have it plagiarised and eclipsed (in terms of earnings at least) by the low rent clone 2048.
Anybody who has the intelligence and decency to push 2048 out of the way and pick up its far superior blueprint will discover that Threes! is a masterpiece of puzzle game design that’s dripping with style and personality. Get it here.
We chose Hitman Go, but really any of the three Go games from Square Enix could have appeared on this list.
Hitman Go is Ubisoft Montreal’s ingenious take on Hitman, transposing the franchise’s stealth action gameplay into a turn-based puzzle boardgame type affair. It’s a daring approach, and it worked so well that it was applied to two more of Ubisoft’s major IPs – Tomb Raider and Deus Ex. Get it here.
Okay, so it’s not the most surprising choice in the history of listicles (“histicle”), but there’s simply no way an honest list compiler can deprive Tetris of its rightful place among the best ever puzzle games.
EA’s Android version comes with several modes and online leaderboards, but its true appeal is and will always be down to the game’s tetromino designs and its flawlessly simple gameplay. Get it here.
The BAFTA-nominated Mini Metro is an ingenious little puzzler that gives you in an insight into the complicated deliberations that go into every little bit of urban logistical planning.
Dressed up like the celebrated London tube map, Mini Metro sees you dragging lines to stations, adding features such as tunnels, and generally trying to design a railway network where the journey lengths, passenger numbers, and so on are all perfectly in harmony. It’s a challenging but meditative experience and it looks great. Get it here.
You Must Build A Boat
A follow-up of the indie cult hit 10,000,000, You Must Build A Boat is a manic matching puzzler in which you have to, yes, build a boat. Not just a boat, though, but also a crew, and not just any crew, but a bunch of weirdos who give you extra powers.
The gameplay itself doesn’t involve much actual building, we hasten to add. Instead you’ll be running along the top of screen and killing baddies, destroying obstacles, and unlocking doors by hurriedly matching the appropriate symbols in the game board below. Get it here.
The Room Three
The Room may well be the most successful puzzle series of the last five years. Aside from Candy Crush that is. And 2048. And Monument Valley. Okay, so The Room is definitely not the most successful puzzle series of the last five years. But it’s right up there.
The gameplay sees you manipulating mechanisms and finding hidden details in intricate, often room-spanning puzzles. It’s a perfect touchscreen game with ingenious puzzle design, but what really makes it stand out is the creepy, lonely atmosphere. Get it here.
Monument Valley 2
What else is there to say about Monument Valley? The first game in the series was so successful that it was featured in Netflix’s House of Cards, and this sequel from boutique studio ustwo was so hotly anticipated that it was revealed onstage at an Apple event (which is presumably why we had to wait so long for it to come to Android).
The game involves moving pieces of architecture around to give passage to a mother and her child. That might sound straightforward, but there’s a snag: the architecture is impossible, like an Escher drawing. Good luck! Get it here.
If points were awarded for style, Framed 2 would be a critical hit. Well guess what – points ARE awarded for style, which is why Framed 2 is one of the most acclaimed puzzlers on mobile.
It’s not just about style, though. This ingenious (we’re using that word a lot today) puzzler is styled on the pages of a comic book. A noirish story of gumshoe intrigue is playing out, and you need to arrange the panels so that the action can unfold in the proper sequence.
It is (what the hell, we’ll say it again) ingenious. Get it here.
Like many of the games on this list, Prune is a great example of the possibilities that the touchscreen has created for developers. It sees you pruning the twigs and branches of a tree to gently steer the path of its rapid growth.
Named Time Magazine’s game of the year in 2015, Prune is a beautiful, stark, meditative, innovative, and above all enjoyable puzzler that will raise your aesthetic expectations of smartphone games and may even teach you something about gardening. Get it here.
A Good Snowman is Hard to Build
A Good Snowman is Hard to Build is a team effort, with music, art, and game design supplied by a gang of indie developers whose other credits include The Beginner’s Guide, Sokobond, and Sushi Snake.)
The result is a fiendish yet adorable puzzler in which you have to build snowmen by making snowballs of just the right size in just the right order. It may sound easy, but you’re operating within tight constraints. This one has a brace of awards, and it’s easy to see why. Get it here.