Thinky Puzzles Quarterly #1

Q1 2022

This article aims to showcase some of the most interesting, fun or otherwise noteworthy free puzzle games made by members of the Thinky Puzzle Games community over the last few months. It’s the first entry in what I hope to make a regularly recurring series. I make no claims of being any kind of authority or expert: just a passionate community member who wants to spread the word about some of the great creative work that’s being done. All of these games can be played free in your browser, and they’re presented roughly in the order they were published. (In the interest of full disclosure: I did contribute in minor ways to a few games on this list.)


Conveyor Con-fusion

https://thinkycollective.itch.io/conveyor-confusion

Undoubtedly the most impressive and expansive game on this list, Conveyor Con-fusion was a collaboration between more than 40 people, organized and pulled together (with considerable effort) by Joseph Mansfield. This is a free web game that’s easily big enough to be a full commercial title. Plenty of secrets and layers of challenges await in a labyrinth of interconnected rooms. If you’re in the mood to tackle a puzzle game with some serious meat to it, look no further.

Flood Gates

https://toombler.itch.io/flood-gates

Flood Gates by Toombler is a fun example of a PuzzleScript game that does something different. Rather than the usual Sokoban crates, you need to cover targets using a pink heart which “flood fills” any rooms it’s connected to. Clever use of keys is necessary to ensure the proper doors are open when you unleash the flood. It’s a relatively short experience made up of satisfying puzzles and a few interesting mechanical wrinkles.

Geode

https://neonesque.itch.io/geode

One of my personal favorites on this list, Geode by Neonesque is a compact, thematic game about using your trusty pickaxe to mine purple crystals. To accomplish this, you’ll first need to crack open each individual geode, positioning them carefully so they’re primed and ready when you come back with your mining tool. The puzzles are broken into two “phases” which makes for interesting dilemmas and realizations, and the whole game feels like a lesson in how to effectively make use of every inch of space.

Dordle

https://zaratustra.itch.io/dordle

Dordle has achieved some level of fame since being released, almost certainly being the most widely-known game included here. With the idea of playing multiple Wordles simultaneously using the same guesses, Zaratustra started a trend: Quordle followed up with 4 words, and Polydle took things to their logical conclusion. If you’ve played a few rounds of Dordle, it’s easy to see why it caught on.

Tres Undos: Player Pack Update

https://knexator.itch.io/tres-undos

Tres Undos was first released in November of 2021 by time-travel-puzzle aficionado Knexator. That might make it seem a bit of an odd pick for this list, but in February the game received an update that roughly doubled its size and introduced several completely new mechanisms. The Player Pack Update features curated time-bending levels made by members of the community using the in-game level editor. Now that I think about it, maybe it’s perfectly appropriate for Tres Undos to show up at a time that feels somehow unusual…

Remnant Labs

https://neonesque.itch.io/remnant-labs

One little square screenshot doesn’t really do Remnant Labs justice: this is a substantial game. PuzzleScript enthusiasts have long theorized about the possibility of designing a full puzzle-metroid-vania experience, and Neonesque finally made it a reality. There are multiple items and upgrades to find, each of which expand your options for interacting with your surroundings in the maze-like Labs. Also present are a map system and even optional story logs to read, making for a surprisingly full-featured and polished game.

You Make a Mean Move Counter

http://stickmanland.com/counters

The bright and colorful You Make a Mean Move Counter by MisshapenSmiley is best understood with some context: the topic of step counters and their place in puzzle games comes up relatively often in the community. This game pokes some fun at the general (unenthusiastic) consensus surrounding the mechanic, while simultaneously showing that it’s possible to make fun puzzles out of anything if your design choices support the core ideas you’re trying to explore.

The Dragon’s Lair & Treacherous Twosday

https://qwrt.itch.io/the-dragons-lair
https://qwrt.itch.io/treacherous-twosday

This recommendation is a double feature of bite-sized games: The Dragon’s Lair and Treacherous Twosday are two monochrome, single-screen puzzles by qwrt. Their brief and minimal style feels very reminiscent of the puzzles of the Confounding Calendar. Out of the two, The Dragon’s Lair is particularly evocative: lure the dragons back to their beds, but stay clear of their deadly charge. Both games are quite charming, and I hope we see more in this series.

Gridle

https://notaninart.itch.io/gridle

I couldn’t write a list of puzzle games and include only a single Wordle variation! In all seriousness, Gridle by Notan is pretty far divorced from the original word guessing game, ditching letters completely in favor of good old shapes and grids. There are new colors this time around: yellow still means that something is in the wrong place, while new orange clues indicate a piece in an incorrect orientation. Eliminate enough possibilities and you should be able to deduce how the final grid fits together.

Jack’s Sokoban

https://jackkutilek.itch.io/sokoban

Jack‘s Sokoban is an interesting experiment that asks the question: “What if Sokoban had evolved differently?” This is a framework for playing the classic crate-pushing game in which you use the mouse instead of controlling a player character. As you drag boxes around, flowers and grass will bloom and die, signifying what moves you’ll be able to make next. It’s fascinating in that it retains the exact same logical rules as standard Sokoban, but presents them in an entirely alien way. Currently the game contains several popular sets of Sokoban puzzles, and features many neat tools such as a comprehensive timeline of your moves and puzzle states.


Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll look forward to the next issue of Thinky Puzzles Quarterly coming in July.

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