10 best puz­zle lev­els

Love a good head-scratcher? We show off ten of the tough­est (and most sat­is­fy­ing) brain-teasers on Xbox

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - steve ashby

10 In­side – The Depths

There’s noth­ing like solv­ing a puz­zle un­der pres­sure. In­side is ex­cep­tional at build­ing ten­sion, drip-feed­ing you clues and slowly teach­ing you the rules of each area be­fore test­ing your skills – be­fore chang­ing up the scene com­pletely so you don’t get bored. The Depths is no ex­cep­tion. While this isn’t the trick­i­est of puz­zle lev­els, it’s one of the most mem­o­rable – sim­ply be­cause of the crea­ture you meet to­wards the end. The girl with the ethe­rial, float­ing hair chases you when you try and es­cape the level, and only your light can chase her away. Top tip – don’t push it and try to get too far with­out push­ing her back again us­ing the light. We learned that one of the hard way. She’s su­per hangry.

09 Tomb Raider – Wind puz­zles

The 2013 Tom­bRaider re­boot found a fan­tas­tic bal­ance between puz­zles and ac­tion, and the high­light for us was this breezy brain­teaser. With an old tower block­ing Lara from reach­ing her prize, she needs to be cre­ative with what’s around her. Thank­fully, the weather fore­cast has swung in her favour and things are get­ting gusty in the hall. The shut­ters let Lara di­rect that wind – or block it off – giv­ing her the chance to swing the gi­ant hang­ing ball in the right di­rec­tion to smash down the enor­mous bell. When later puz­zles start in­volv­ing cranks and mov­ing plat­forms that re­quire per­fect tim­ing to ma­noeu­vre in the se­ri­ous squall, the chal­lenge re­ally ramps up. High fives all round if you nail it first time.

08 QUBE 2 – Chap­ter 11: The Abyss

Com­bin­ing all of the physics-based skills that you learn through­out the game,

QUBE’s fi­nal chap­ter will chal­lenge your grey mat­ter more than most school ex­ams. Find­ing the right com­bi­na­tion of abil­i­ties when there are so many pos­si­ble per­mu­ta­tions will mean ev­ery room in this area will be a head-scratcher. Like an­other puz­zle ti­tle that might or might not be at the top of this list, QUBE does a fan­tas­tic job of let­ting you slowly learn skills un­til you mas­ter them with­out even re­al­is­ing. As you put the dif­fer­ent pieces of the puz­zles to­gether to build a so­lu­tion that will get you to the exit, that warm feel­ing of ge­nius will start to creep through you. Then you’ll reach the next room and it’ll come crash­ing down again.

07 Fez –Se­cu­rity Room

If you came into Fez ex­pect­ing a fun, light puz­zler that uses per­spec­tive to solve prob­lems… you’ll be sur­prised. There cer­tainly are el­e­ments of that in there, but this ti­tle re­quires a lot more skill and crit­i­cal think­ing than it takes to spin a cam­era round four times. And the se­cu­rity room poses a par­tic­u­larly tough chal­lenge, be­cause you can’t just run around read­ing clues or ac­ti­vate a Bat­man- style, fa­mously cheaty, De­tec­tive Mode to light up every­thing you need in glowing or­ange light. All you get is a short rid­dle: “My first half is what it is. My sec­ond half is half of what made it.” That’s it. Easy, right? If work­ing it out wasn’t enough, then you have to spell the an­swer in blocks. Yikes!

06 A Way Out – The Farm­house

This unique two-player ti­tle packs in a lot of puz­zles, but it’s the farm­house that stands out to us. The house and sur­round­ing farm­land give Vin­cent and Leo more to do than shoot up po­lice cars, hide in wood­lands or beat up ran­dom pris­on­ers. Your main tasks are to get a truck up and run­ning again, find new clothes and arm your­selves. But to do that, you’ll need to ex­plore the house, and that’s where the real joy arises. It’s filled with cool lit­tle nuggets of in­for­ma­tion, neat touches and fun things for the guys to do. The real chal­lenge is find­ing the things you need amongst the dozens of other things to ex­plore. But why rush? The house of­fers a great chance to take a breather.

05 Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons – The Mines

What Brothers does bril­liantly is cre­ate chal­lenges that force co­op­er­a­tion between Naiee and Naia, and for us there’s no bet­ter ex­am­ple than the mines. This cav­ern is full of ru­ins and machin­ery that the brothers must use to tra­verse the level with­out fall­ing to a pain­ful death. The cam­era reg­u­larly an­gles down­wards to show the work­ing trolls below, set­ting the scene beau­ti­fully. The puz­zles here mostly in­volve team­work, tim­ing and the odd climb­ing chal­lenge – and even though they’re sim­ple, they’re also su­per sat­is­fy­ing. But it’s the end­ing to the level that re­ally makes it mem­o­rable. As you re­unite your lovelorn troll friend with his beau, ev­ery pushed lever and leg-up feels all the more worth­while.

04 Prince Of Per­sia: Sands Of Time – The Hall of Learn­ing

Most of this game’s puz­zles in­volve get­ting from one place to the other us­ing the Prince’s wall­run­ning and back­flip­ping skills. But the Hall Of Learn­ing is spe­cial be­cause it mixes this with some good, old-fash­ioned puz­zling. For a start, it’s huge – and you soon re­alise that the whole li­brary is one big puz­zle made up of lots of smaller puz­zles that you have to solve one by one to un­lock new ar­eas. Whether you’re push­ing mir­rors around to re­di­rect light, smash­ing down walls to cre­ate new paths, or clam­ber­ing over book­shelves, you’ll need to read the scenery to un­der­stand what you need to do, and then do every­thing in the right or­der. It’s the per­fect sum­mary of what makes this clas­sic ti­tle so good.

03 Hit­man 2 –Mum­bai

Is Hit­man even a puz­zle game? Be­cause ev­ery level of­fers so many po­ten­tial as­sas­si­na­tion op­tions, and mul­ti­ple ways to achieve each one, we see ev­ery mis­sion as an op­por­tu­nity to solve the same puz­zle over and over – in a dif­fer­ent way ev­ery time we at­tempt it. And for us, Mum­bai is the best ex­am­ple in the se­ries so far. Not only is the level burst­ing with vi­brancy and life, it also changes de­pend­ing on how you play, which means ev­ery playthroug­h could be dif­fer­ent. Work­ing out the best way to find and kill your tar­gets is just one piece of this puz­zle – how you go about it changes how the rest of the mis­sion plays out. Plus, un­like some games on this list, it’s a puz­zle we re­visit over and over again.

02 Sea Of Thieves – The Art of the Trick­ster Rid­dle

The Tall Tales that Rare added to this pi­rate-’em-up ear­lier this year as part of the An­niver­saryUp­date have given play­ers some more much-re­quested back­story to exp-LORE (sorry). But they also chal­lenge you to solve new rid­dles that take you across the seas in search of trea­sure, ad­ven­ture and Gamer­score. All of the rid­dles are good fun, but we’re big fans of the Art Of The Trick­ster – and not just be­cause Salty The Par­rot is the one to give it to you. On Plun­der Is­land you’ll need to move some skele­tons into spe­cific po­si­tions in or­der to un­cover a spy­glass. There’s more to this one af­ter you’ve gath­ered your first trea­sure, but we won’t ruin it for you – just be pre­pared for a fight.

01 Por­tal 2 – Chap­ter 7-5

Let’s face it, Por­tal2 is prob­a­bly the best puz­zle game ever made. But which level is the best? We’ve gone for Chap­ter 7-5 sim­ply be­cause it in­volves a lot of air and some of the most mind-bend­ing gel place­ment in the game. Once you’ve pro­pelled your­self to the top of an enor­mous room, you’ll need to cre­ate a gel chain re­ac­tion that can help you skid, bounce and por­tal your way into a vent area. Af­ter that, the right por­tal place­ment will spray gel all over ev­ery wall in front of you, al­low­ing you to reach even greater heights. And just when you think you’ve lit­er­ally peaked, one fi­nal leap will help you rise for one last time. In a game that’s all about es­ca­la­tion, this level just doesn’t stop.

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