Best Digital Puzzle Games of 2019

From School Library Journal: Best Digital Puzzle Games of 2019

A good puzzle game is one that is challenging without being frustrating. The best go beyond challenging to engage players on a number of levels: through their distinct but readable design, evolving mechanics or difficulty, and repetitive but soothing soundtracks.

Below are three of the best puzzle games of the year, each of which offers a unique but equally captivating experience. The first features an ever-joyful warehouse worker sorting beautifully designed icons, the second encourages players to honk loudly and otherwise wreak havoc on the lives of people in a quiet English town, and the last is a game involving logic, language, and abstract thought that nearly defies explanation.

Although each title is appropriate for all ages, younger players will most likely enjoy the colors and patterns of Wilmot’s Warehouse, tweens will gravitate towards the slapstick hijinks of Untitled Goose Game, and older players will most appreciate the cerebral puzzling of Baba Is You.

Wilmot’s Warehouse (Hollow Ponds/Richard Hogg; PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch; Gr 4 Up) is a charming puzzle game built around organizing a warehouse. It was created by Richard Hogg and Ricky Haggett, who also worked together on the whimsical 2014 title Hohokum.

Players control Wilmot, a square box with a smiling cartoon face, as they try to organize products, represented by icon tiles, however they see fit. As the game progresses, more and more new products are added, numbering 200 in total by the end. The game rewards completing tasks quickly with stars that can be used to upgrade Wilmot’s abilities, such as being able to dash or rotate blocks.

The games cycles through three phases: delivery, service, and stock take. During delivery, Wilmot must sort all incoming products and place them throughout the warehouse while being timed. The service phase consists of co-workers requesting specific items to be retrieved under the pressure of a timer. Lastly, stock take is a relaxing, untimed opportunity for players to reorganize and clean up the warehouse before the next cycle.

Wilmot’s Warehouse is both an exercise in taxonomy as well as a simple memory game. Students playing it together will excitedly shout out directions to each other as they remember where particular tiles were placed. The game is also fundamentally about visual design and interpreting concepts represented by minimalist icons, making it perfect to share with classes studying art or design.

A subtle critique runs throughout it in the form of informational posters from Wilmot’s manager, such as reminding the two-dimensional character to “always lift with your legs, not with your back”. However, this never overwhelms the engaging, Tetris-like gameplay. A trailer is available. VERDICT A cheerful, visually appealing puzzle game about organization, memory, and manual labor.

Read on for the Best Digital Puzzle Games of 2019 on School Library Journal.

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