Amidst the realm of gaming’s high-octane shooters and competitive clashes, there’s a serene escape for those moments of seeking something fresh. Puzzle platformers, with their captivating simplicity, offer a respite from the frantic gaming pace. They invite us to unwind and immerse ourselves in their ingeniously crafted universes.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to three puzzle platformers that have left an indelible mark on me. These are games I’ve not just conquered but continually revisit, drawn by their distinct charm and soulful craftsmanship. Links to purchase/download the games are included in the references.
1. Limbo: A Noir Odyssey
By Playdead | Released in 2010
The first on this list is LIMBO, a puzzle platformer that stands as a testament to minimalist brilliance. In this game, silence speaks volumes as haunting shadows and silhouettes shroud a perilous black and white world. What intrigued me most on my first LIMBO gameplay was its ability to convey a narrative without relying on text or dialog. It invites players to interpret its evocative environments and clever puzzles as they guide an unnamed boy through a very eventful path. With its brooding film-noir aesthetic, LIMBO casts a spell that lingers long after the credits roll.
I’ve embarked on this 2D journey across various platforms, from PC to Android and PlayStation. Each time, I’ve been captivated by the atmosphere and gameplay. I discovered it while looking for lightweight, but interesting games that would run on my potato laptop at the time. It was my first proper dive into the puzzle platformer genre, and its initial confusion only heightened my intrigue.
2. Inside: A Dystopian Enigma
From the creators of Limbo | Released in 2016
Continuing the legacy of LIMBO, Playdead gifted us with INSIDE. This game builds upon the concepts and tone of its predecessor, offering a dystopian backdrop and a narrative that unfolds through gameplay.
Naturally, after completing LIMBO, I was eager to experience something similar. INSIDE delivered that and more. It’s a game that’s hard to describe without spoiling its many surprises. It is a worthy successor to LIMBO. If LIMBO is 2D, then INSIDE is 2.5D.
INSIDE crafts an unsettling yet irresistibly intriguing world that beckons you to explore its dark mysteries. It’s a game that rewards curiosity, with hidden secrets and alternate endings that encourage multiple playthroughs. INSIDE is a worthy successor to LIMBO, and it’s a game I’ve returned to time and again.
3. Little Nightmares I & II: A Double Dose of Darkness
Two haunting adventures
Closing our list is a two-for-one deal: “Little Nightmares” and its sequel, “Little Nightmares II.” These titles are among the most atmospheric puzzle platformers you’ll encounter, cloaked in an aura of darkness, eeriness, and unease. Their unique art style teeters on the edge of charm and the macabre. Within their clever puzzles and tight platforming lies an intricately woven world that is communicated entirely through gameplay, devoid of any dialog or text. While these games may be short in duration, their quality is so remarkable that they entice you to return, time and again, to relive their eerie splendor.
In a world where gaming often leans towards frenetic competition and adrenaline-pumping action, puzzle platformers offer a serene alternative. Games like “Limbo,” “Inside,” and “Little Nightmares” have an enduring quality that transcends their release dates, making them not just one-time experiences but journeys to be revisited, savored, and cherished. When the cacophony of fast-paced titles becomes overwhelming, these games stand as reminders that sometimes, simplicity and immersion can be the most captivating experiences in gaming.