It’s a golden age of puzzle games, even for people who suck at puzzle games

I’m a big fan of the British comedy game show Taskmaster. Each season, five comedians compete against each other to complete ridiculous objectives. The competitors are often rewarded for lateral thinking, as long as they stick within each task's rules.

Every time I watch a player hilariously mess up, I often think “well, I could do better than that.” But sit me down in front of a puzzle game that demands adept use of logic or pushes me to think outside of the box, and l often get frustrated and give up quickly (unless I find a decent guide to help me out). That’s quite irritating, especially since we’re in a golden age of puzzle games.

After a busy day of work, I’m far more inclined to play something relatively mindless, like Overwatch 2 or Fortnite. I tend to bristle at anything that slows me down, such as turn-based games. But the more I push myself to stick with puzzle games, the more I appreciate them. There are three recently released options that I've been bouncing between recently in Lorelei and the Laser Eyes, Animal Well and Paper Trail.

I had enormous expectations for Lorelei. The last offering from developer Simogo, Sayonara Wild Hearts, is easily in my top three games of all time. Lorelei is completely different and it's not like anything I’ve experienced before.

It opens with a woman named Lorelei standing next to her car. The vehicle won't start, but fortunately there's a hotel close by. As it turns out, that's where Lorelei is supposed to be to help an artist complete his magnum opus. This is a place where time is nebulous. It's 1963, but there are computers where you save your progress and a Game Boy-style system to use. The hotel is the only real constant, and even that is built out of puzzles.

The visuals are astonishing, even on the Nintendo Switch. Shocks of Giallo-esque reds and pinks frequently punch through the monochromatic environments. The design language is unusual yet meticulously crafted to guide you from one puzzle to the next until Lorelei's photographic memory is overflowing with conundrums to conquer.

There are all kinds of riddles to solve here, and they all feel intertwined. At first, you’ll have a few simple math problems to figure out. From there, you’ll be dealing with everything from mazes to pattern matching and spatial awareness puzzles. You’ll need a decent grasp of Roman numerals and the ability to pull together disparate scraps of information. Unfortunately for my scatterbrained self, plenty of logical thinking is required.

I’m nowhere close to finishing Lorelei. Even so, I already appreciate the way that Simogo slotted the intricately layered puzzles together. My only quibble in the early going is the over-reliance on padlocks and three-digit codes that secure document tubes.

My brain is not well tuned for logic-heavy puzzles, so I need to be in the right mindset before sitting down with Lorelei for an hour or two. I want to savor this one at my own pace over the coming weeks and months. I'll forego guides and try to figure out another of Simogo’s strange, intoxicating worlds by myself.

While Lorelei gives the player an in-game manual in the opening moments, Animal Well offers barely any guidance at all. You (as a squishy little meatball thing) emerge from a flower into a cave with a large, ghostly squirrel on one side. It's not clear which direction to move in, what the objective is, what your character is or why you're there. All you can do is explore and try to figure it all out.

This has been described as a Metroidvania, a format that sees players backtracking to unlock a new area once they acquire a certain skill or upgrade. It’s taking most folks between four and six hours to finish the main game. But Animal Well is really more of a puzzle platformer. If you know what to do and how to do it, it’s possible to beat the game in a few minutes.

That’s part of Animal Well’s charm and beauty. Solo developer Billy Basso has weaved an intricate web of secrets, many of which are hidden in the shadows of its gorgeous pixel art (the game feels great too, thanks to smart use of haptic feedback on the PS5's DualSense controller). Without spoiling anything, I appreciate that the puzzles, many of which are traversal-based, are often open-ended. There are ways to progress even if you don't use an intended item or route.

I don't find the puzzles here nearly as taxing as those in Lorelei. The answers are all there, you just have to poke around and try things to see what happens.

The same could be said for Paper Trail from Newfangled Games. The painterly art style caught my eye when this started showing up at game showcases a couple of years back. The core mechanic is fascinating too.

The aim is to guide protagonist Paige through a swathe of mazy environments toward her goal of attending school and becoming an astrophysicist. But there are many obstacles in her way. Fortunately, Paige (and the player) can bend reality. This means folding over the edges of the world, which has two planes — just like a piece of paper — to open up new paths.

Newfangled finds clever ways of building on the central idea and the difficulty curve is fair but challenging. Paper Trail has a nice hint system that shows what folds to make, but not how to move Paige or any objects around.

Although the controls can be finicky, even while playing it on mobile (where it's available for Netflix subscribers), it's perhaps the puzzle game I've found the easiest to engage with lately. I enjoy contorting the world around Paige and lining up some patterns to unlock a path. It's the kind of game that makes me feel smart and satisfied whenever I figure out a solution.

I wager that the more I play these games and ones like them, the better I’ll get. We’ve had some downright great puzzle-centric titles over the last few years. Unpacking, Tunic and Cocoon immediately spring to mind. So does Teardown and its wildly fun destructive heists. Planet of Lana, Venba, Viewfinder, Humanity and Jusant were all among my favorite 2023 games in general.

I wish I'd been able to get into The Case of the Golden Idol, but I at least appreciate what it was going for. I might also finally get around to checking out Chants of Sennaar now that it's on Game Pass.

The puzzle games keep coming, as a Zelda-style adventure called Isles of Sea and Sky just popped up and grabbed my attention. And then there’s Indika, which sounds both deeply strange and remarkably mature.

In any case, as in all great puzzle games, there's a bigger picture. All of these are merely practice for the ultimate test, because a VR version of Taskmaster is coming in June. I'll soon get to find out whether I'm better at lateral thinking than comedians after all.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

LinkedIn now has Wordle-style games you can play every day

LinkedIn, the professional network known for job listings and unsolicited career advice, is jumping into gaming. The platform is officially introducing a set of Wordle-style puzzle games, weeks after they were first spotted in the app.

The company is starting with three games: Pinpoint, a word game where players must guess the theme that ties a series of words together; Queens, a puzzle game that’s a bit like a cross between Sudoku and Minesweeper; and Crossclimb, a trivia game that involves guessing a series of four-letter words and placing them in the correct order.

LinkedIn describes them as “thinking-oriented games,” though the format will likely look familiar to fans of The New York Times Games app. Each game can only be played once a day, and players can share their score with friends in cute emoji-filled messages reminiscent of the “Wordle grid.” The service will also keep track of “streaks,” to encourage players to come back every day. Given the similarities, it shouldn’t be surprising that games were developed by LinkedIn’s news team, which recently hired a dedicated games editor.

Games have been a boon for The New York Times since it acquired Wordle in 2022, and other publications have tried to emulate that success with their own lineup of word and puzzle games. I asked LinkedIn’s editor-in-chief and VP of Product Dan Roth if the company was inspired by the success of Wordle and the NYT’s Games app. He said that the inspiration was actually much older: “the very first crossword puzzle” in the New York World newspaper more than 100 years ago. He added that there aren’t currently plans for a standalone gaming app.

“These games aren't designed to be just played,” Roth told Engadget. “We're not getting into the gaming world to get into the gaming world. The idea is games that can help you think differently and connect with your network.”

You can try out the new games on LinkedIn.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The best board games to gift this 2023 holiday season

We could all use more time away from screens of all types and sizes, and board games are a fun way to do that and bond with friends and family. Classics like Monopoly and Scrabble may be tried and true, but there are dozens of newcomers in the board game world that are worth checking out. You can find plenty of unique sets out there now, from word puzzles to whodunnits to calming playthroughs that showcase the beauty of the little things in life. Here, we’ve collected 13 of our favorite board games that are not only great to keep on hand in your own home, but that will also make solid gifts this holiday season. From games with giant monsters to those with haunted mansions, we’re sure at least one of these will be a hit with friends and family.



King of Tokyo


Betrayal at the House on the Hill (3rd Edition)

Clank! Catacombs

Ark Nova


Marvel Dice Throne


Votes for Women



This article originally appeared on Engadget at

A ‘Phygital’ Approach to Board Games Gives A Fresh Take On Traditional Chinese Chess ‘Go’

For all chess enthusiasts and parents seeking engaging board games for their children, the EIFplay chessboard is a groundbreaking product that offers a host of innovative features to address the common concerns associated with traditional board games. From worries about storing pieces and missing parts to issues of portability and child safety, this intelligent chessboard from EIFplay, a startup company based in Shenzhen, provides an elegant and practical solution.

Designer: Kai Xia

Go is an abstract strategy board game for two players in which the aim is to surround more territory than the opponent. If you are an avid ‘Pentoku’ or ‘Go’ player, you might have experienced the inconvenience of storing the pieces and the frustration of losing them over time. The EIFplay chessboard presents a revolutionary concept that eliminates these issues, making it an ideal choice for chess and similar game lovers. By employing a unique button system, this smart chessboard can effortlessly switch between the two pieces in Go (Chinese board game), showcasing two different colors to represent the pieces for each game. This innovative design allows for seamless transitions and ensures that your game is never interrupted due to missing pieces.

Parents often face the challenge of choosing suitable board games for their children, and traditional chess boards can pose a range of problems. Not only do they present the same issues of missing and storing pieces, but they also raise concerns about the safety of very young children who might accidentally ingest the small pieces. Furthermore, busy schedules can hinder quality bonding time over board games.

Fortunately, the EIFplay chessboard caters to the needs of parents as well. For families with young children, the intelligent design of the chessboard’s button system ensures that the game remains safe and free from small parts that could be swallowed. This eliminates the risk of serious consequences and makes the chessboard an ideal choice for family fun.

Additionally, the EIFplay chessboard provides the option to play against the computer, offering a man-machine mode with adjustable difficulty levels. This feature is precious when parents find it challenging to dedicate time to play board games with their children due to busy work schedules. Now, kids can enjoy the game at their convenience while sharpening their strategic thinking skills without having to engage with any smartphone or device, therefore, reducing distractions.

With their cumbersome size and numerous chess pieces, traditional chess boards are not the most portable gaming options. However, the EIFplay chessboard addresses this issue efficiently. With a compact size of 21mm*21mm, smaller than an A4 paper, this chessboard fits conveniently into school bags or travel cases, allowing you to carry your favorite board game anywhere you go.

The chessboard’s lithium battery, rechargeable through a type-c interface, provides a battery life of more than 4 hours. This impressive longevity ensures uninterrupted gameplay during long journeys or when access to power sources is limited.

The EIFplay chessboard is a remarkable innovation that caters to the needs of chess enthusiasts and parents alike. Its intelligent design, compact size, and long battery life make it a convenient and hassle-free option for playing chess games on the go. Whether you are looking for an engaging board game to enhance your strategic thinking skills or a safe and enjoyable activity for your children, this intelligent chessboard from EIFplay promises to deliver an exceptional gaming experience. Embrace the future of chess with the EIFplay chessboard and bid farewell to the worries associated with traditional chess boards.

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Hold this gaming controller like assault rifle to shoot down enemies for maximum immersion

Mobile gaming controllers come in plenty but their operating mechanism is more or less the same. They clasp onto your device from both sides, a good example being the Razer Kishi. Or be placed on top of a gamepad like the Turtle Beach Atom.

This refreshing concept ideation has caught my eye for its sheer functional merit courtesy of the ergonomic design for maximum immersion. The next-generation accessory brings into the equation a layered immersive experience to respond to the interactions in the most engaging manner.

Designer:  Rahul Chhapia

There are three different modes to cover virtually all the playable genres, an avid gamer would want to have a strategic advantage with a controller. There is the Target Mode to hold the gaming controller like an assault rifle firing the bullets in the most suited position for maximum immersion. The second is the Pilot Mode to hold the controller like a steering wheel and gives real-time steering inputs for titles such as Grid Autosport sim. The third one is Classic Mode for role-playing games or arcade classics in a contemporary holding position.

Just imagine playing Call of Duty Mobile holding the controller like a shotgun, pointing in the enemy’s direction – how enhanced the whole experience would be. Rather than swiping position and hitting the shoot button on the screen, simply move in the intended direction and hit the trigger for a near real-life feel. It’s going to be somewhere between conventional mobile gaming and a truly immersive VR experience.

The button placement and the holding position looks optimum for all kind of gamers, with a fair bit of thought being put into the concept design. Bringing the gaming controller to life is highly probable with a few tweaks, and I hope it happens sooner rather than later. I already want to own it without a doubt, since VR gaming is not my cup of cake.

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These playful desk accessories might have you craving for eggs

Many of us sit in front of desks the majority of our lives, whether we work at home or in the office or spend most of the day in school. Something that we see every day for hours on end is bound to have an impact on our minds in the long run. That’s why we put pieces of decoration, beautiful accessories, and delightful toys on our desks to inspire us or even to distract us once in a while. Sometimes, however, we also opt for products with cleaner and more minimal designs that evoke feelings of peace or mental clarity. Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t have something that is both minimal yet playful, like this set of desk accessories and trinkets that take inspiration from traditional Korean games that children play.

Designer: Jiung Yun, Siwook Lee, Jihyun Hong, Junsu Lee

Inspiration can come from many things and take many forms. Some are more direct, like flower-shaped wall clocks or UFO-shaped lamps, while others require some imagination to make the connections. These hidden details only make these items more interesting and more valuable, especially if their themes speak to the owner’s interests and tastes. Madang, for example, is a collection of desk accessories that take inspiration from Korea’s forgotten traditional games, bringing an element of fun to some serious productivity tools.

Some of the associations are almost direct, like Juldaligi, a wrist-stretching tool that is like a miniature form of a traditional Korean tug of war. A multipurpose tray’s dividers and containers make it look like a Sabang chigi playground that children would use in yards. A magnetic clip holder that looks both like a UFO and a hat is a nod to the Jeonlip hats used in a whimsical game of Sangmodoligi. And what better way to embody a see-saw-like game than with a clip that mimics that movement.

There are also some items that take some license in the reinterpretation of those games. A pen holder, for example, tries to call to mind arrows that are put inside a barrel, while the Gang Gang Sulae desk timer is supposed to represent a game where people hold hands in a circle. One of the oddest ones is the incense holder that adds a swinging ball just to make an association with another traditional game that revolves around swings.

Whether intentional or unintentional, the white and orange motif of the Madang set brings another tie to Korean culture. Almost like different forms of soft-boiled eggs, these desk accessories bring to mind some popular Korean dishes, especially those that use egg as a core ingredient. Whether it’s through their shapes or through their colors, the Madang collection tries to give a bit of life to your desk without being overbearing or extravagant. Its homage to almost forgotten games also tries to remind us to have some fun in our lives before it becomes too late to enjoy it.

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LEGO recreates life-sized Atari 2600 gaming console to revive nostalgic memories

The LEGO Atari 2600 set has been in the rumor mill since April this year, and now finally it has gone official. Pretty obviously, the set is based on the classic game console that triggered the era of gaming in the 80s. Marking the 50 years of the brand’s legacy, the LEGO treatment for the most popular console in their history.

All you gaming nerds might remember the four-switch version of the Atari 2600 that arrived in 1980, This particular LEGO recreation is based on that model with a total of 2,532 pieces and a moveable joystick to bring back old memories. I wonder why they didn’t make it a 2,600 pieces version though!

Designer: LEGO Studios

Click Here to Buy Now!

This LEGO set is a follow-up to the Nintendo Entertainment System comprising 2,646 pieces – but one can’t deny the Atari 2600 set’s significantly higher perceived value. To keep things interesting for gamers who love anything classic from the 70s or 80s, there are the three cartridges of the classic games – Asteroids, Adventure and Centipede – slidable into the main body of the brick console. Each of the games also gets a matchable mini figurine to complete the look. The LEGO console opens up to reveal the diorama of a 1980s living room which I absolutely adore.

The life-sized set is designed by Chris McVeigh who said that it has been “an incredible experience to bring two icons together – Atari and Lego.” Bringing back those cherished memories of the days when a handful of pixels meant the world to all of us, is what makes this LEGO creation special. To top it off the set recreates details such as the vented top plate and the wooden accents on the front. The only thing I miss here is the LEGO adaptation of the RF adapter for this set.

LEGO Atari 2600 will be available on August 1, 2022, which coincidently is Atari’s 50th-anniversary date. The price tag of $239.99 will have many collectors all over this set I’m sure, and don’t be surprised if it goes out of stock in a jiffy.

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This tabletop gaming platform uses an iPad and NFC-based playing chips to create a fun learning experience

A screen-based game platform that’s still rooted in real life and tactile gaming.

Meet Rolling Seeds, a nifty little game that uses cutting-edge tech. A mixture of wordle, scrabble, crossword, roulette, and a bunch of other games, Rolling Seeds comes with NFC-based chips that you need to put into the ‘Smart Game Pot’. Roll the Seed in and the Pot reads the NFC tag, registering your move. Everything unfolds on an iPad or Android Tablet that docks right into the pot, and the Rolling Seeds app offers a wide variety of number, alphabet, and image-based learning games.

Designer: Kevin S. Cho

Click Here to Buy Now: $129 $220 ($91 off). Hurry, only 34/50 left!

Setting up and playing your Rolling Seeds is rather simple. First pair the iPad or Android Tablet with your Game Pot via Bluetooth and download the Rolling Seeds app. The app offers 20 different games to choose from, and the company mentioned that game updates and new games will always ensure a never-ending fun experience. The games require you to play by rolling seeds into the pot, with different Seeds (NFC discs) for different games. Rolling Seeds currently offers games like Crossword, Go Fish, Soccer, Roll of Fortune, and Spelling Master, among many others. The Game Pot accepts the tokens (or seeds) you put in, and a flip-out drawer lets you take out the seeds from inside once the game is over. The pot uses RFID to recognize the Seeds in real-time, working without any lag or delay. Designed also for the visually impaired, each Seed comes with Braille markings too, allowing everyone to enjoy while learning and playing!

Rolling Crossword – Plant the correct Seeds to answer the clues!

Spelling Master: Spell the words in this speed challenge!

Roll of Fortune: Spin the wheel and roll to win!

Rolling Soccer: Secretly shoot and guess correctly to save!

Rolling Spoon: Grab a spoon to survive!

A winner of both the iF Design Award and the Good Design Korea Award, Rolling Seeds aims at making games dynamic and fun, without relying entirely on a screen or on a physical device. This hybrid combines the tactile fun of picking up objects, evaluating them, and playing your turn, with the virtual fun of an online game filled with vibrant UI and animations that captivate the mind of children.

The prime objective, however, is always to build skills and help kids learn and grow. The device comes with a 1,800mAh internal Li-ion battery that powers the Smart Game Pot for up to 10 hours and is chargeable by USB-C. The Rolling Seeds app is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for free, while the physical game is available for a Super Early Bird discount of $99 on Kickstarter.

Click Here to Buy Now: $129 $220 ($91 off). Hurry, only 34/50 left!

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Razer Streaming Controller has more dials, buttons and customizing options to lure content creators

Streamers and gamers who already have the Elgato Stream Deck on their buying checklist – don’t jump the gun yet. Razer is all set to rival the preferred option with its own streaming deck gadget that comes with more features at competitive pricing.

Razer worked in tandem with Loupedeck (who have their own streaming deck – Loupedeck Live) to create a new product for the booming market. A clear sign they want to have a big bite of the pie. The Razer Stream Controller with more knobs and buttons for expanded possibilities of use seems like a good prospect. The San-Diego-based company has been slowly inching towards the streaming end of market with previous releases, and now this accessory further expands the horizon.

Designer: Razer

Click Here to Buy Now!

Managing game streaming or live TV broadcast solo isn’t easy – this is where such streaming accessories come in handy. They simplify the task for the streamer, sitting in front of the PC while engrossed in-game action or broadcasting live. The multi-button device not only comes in handy for game streaming content creation, but also for editing videos or playing music. The Razer Stream Controller comes with 12 haptic switchable LCD touchscreen keys, eight physical buttons, and six analog dials – three on each side. Everything right from adjusting the lighting, adjusting the volumes or audio mixing can be fully customized with the compatible Loupedeck software for Windows and MacOS platforms.

The dials are what make the Stream Controller different from the Stream Deck which apparently has a big LCD screen with customizable tactile buttons. These dials on the Razer’s offering can be employed to adjust the volume levels for the mic, playing music, or something else. Swipe gestures can also be used to access more keys hidden from the homescreen view. For creators looking to go beyond just game streaming, there are native plugins designed for apps like Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects or Photoshop. User can also control Spotify or smart home devices such as Philips Hue lights from the Stream Controller.

The streaming accessory has an automatic profile switching feature that toggles the profile depending on the active application being used. For instance, if Photoshop is opened, the Stream Controller displays shortcuts and quick access to tools. When the switch back to broadcast software happens, the Twitch stream controls pop-up again.

For sure Razer’s offering is better than the $200 Stream Deck when it comes to features, but can it dethrone the market leader for $270 with an untainted user experience? Only time will tell, since it is slated to land come later this Fall.

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This compact smartphone gaming controller works equally well in portrait configuration too

Smartphones and gaming are closely knit together, as both casual and pro gamers prefer the convenience of pushing an app icon and enjoying high octane action on their mobile devices. The kind of processing power phones come with these days, ensures gamers don’t have to complain about lack of high-end graphics, crazy frame rates, or touch responses. This is especially true for flagships and dedicated gaming devices.

Most smartphones have gaming as a secondary function and mostly don’t have shoulder triggers or even cooling vents for hardcore gameplay for long hours. This calls for after-market accessories like controllers from Razer, SteelSeries, 8Bitdo, and other respectable brands. Most of these controllers are tailored for landscape orientation since most smartphone games are adapted to that configuration.

Designer: Thiago Viana

However, for people who like portrait orientation games simply because they prefer one-handed use, there’s a better way to do it. Yes, a smartphone gaming controller that allows you to play games in both orientations with equal dexterity. Meet Moby, a smartphone controller that brings the nostalgic Game Boy archetype to the fore. A compact controller designed to make playing games the utmost fun with an old-school appeal rooted in the gaming DNA of the 90s.

I like the aesthetics of the Moby controller as it does not elongate the controls when in landscape mode, and hides the shoulder trigger buttons behind the device. The joystick and input buttons are placed ergonomically for people with small hands who find it awkward to play games with other gaming controllers that have a gaping divide between the left- and right-handed controls.

All the user has to do is to slide in the Moby’s small tether attached to the back of the phone onto the main controller unit. Once that’s done, the accessory automatically connects to the Bluetooth and you’re ready for non-stop fun. The cherry on top is the three peppy colors the Moby gaming controller comes in, with a selection of different snap covers to customize.

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