When we think of first person games the word ‘shooter’ is usually involved. If I was to try and list all of the FPS games on the market it would be nearly impossible. What happens however, if we replace ‘shooter’ with ‘puzzle’? The list suddenly gets a lot shorter. Many people would only be able to list 2 or 3 games.

If you ask anyone to name a first person puzzle game, it’s likely the answer is going to be Portal. This is the game that proved first person puzzle games can work really, really well. When Valve first developed Portal they really didn’t know if it was going to be popular. It was packaged in The Orange Box and soon gathered a cult of fans. If you haven’t played it yet go and grab a copy now!

Portal 2
Of course, once Valve realised Portal was so popular they developed a sequel. A much longer game with a more in depth story and many new puzzle elements and a 2 player co-op mode. It’s probably the best first person puzzle game made to date so let’s hope they make a third game in the series :)

Narbacular Drop
The game that inspired Portal developed as a senior game project of students attending DigiPen Institute of Technology. The developers where hired by Valve to develop Portal using many of the same concepts. Although the game is not as polished or complete as portal you can download it for free.


Tag: The Power of Paint
Tag Team, a group of students from the DigiPen Institute of Technology created a game that allows the player to use special paint sprayed from a paint gun to change the physical properties of surfaces. The project team was then hired by Valve, to help create new puzzle elements in Portal 2.

Set in a cube based environment, this game challenges players to navigate each level by manipulating coloured cubes with a kind of mysterious glove. Although the game keeps the graphics simple it provides some interesting gameplay mechanics using logic, physics and platforming.

The Ball
Solve puzzles with the help of a large physics driven ball. Using an ancient weapon to attract the Ball towards you, or use it to hammer the Ball toward objects and enemies. You can also push the Ball into areas you cannot enter and use it to help you survive the many traps and hazards.

Quantum Conundrum
A game being develoeped by Kim Swift who was one of the students developing Narbacular Drop and joined Valve to develop Portal. In early December of 2009, she left Valve to work for Airtight Games to work on Quantum Conundrum. I don’t know a lot about this game yet except that you play a 12-year-old trapped in your uncle’s mansion. The primary game mechanic is the Interdimensional Shift Device allowing the player to switch into one of four different dimensions.

Another student project created in 2008 by Rocktopus Games. For a free student project this game looks very polished. The game uses a gravity gun that can attract or repel as the main mechanic. Unfortunately, the download on the main website seems to be broken.

AntiChamber (Hazard – Journey of Life)
I’m not really sure how to describe this game. The developer descibes it as a journey through the depths of a non-Eclidean labyrinth where geometry and space follow unfamiliar rules. It really has to be played to fully understand what that means. The developers website doesn’t have a download link, but with a bit of Googling you can find a demo here.

A game still in development with an interesting neon electro twist look. The player is let loose into an abstract world built on sound and structures inspired by electronic music. The gameplay is about exploring, rebuilding and creating. The puzzles are simple knob twisting or button pushing to match patterns.

Vestige is a game that takes place in an alternate history, beneath the capital of a renewed and oppresive Roman empire. The levels in this game look incredible, which makes sense because the game can be downloaded from the talented level designers website of Alex Forsythe.

Another work in progress with the concept of being able to rewind time using a kind of space-time camera. Theres not a lot of info on this game yet but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

The Penumbra Series
A group of first person horror adventure focussing on story, immersion and puzzle solving. While, horror and story seem to be the main focus, the games do have puzzles and there is not shooting or weapons in the traditional sense.

So there you have it, all of the games I could find that fit the first person puzzle category. The list is short, even including titles still in development, nevertheless, it does seem to be a growing genre. Who knows, maybe one day people will say FPP alongside FPS.

If you know of any other games that should be on the list please let me know.