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Top games for Architects that may involve puzzles!

Here is a list of the best games for architects in my humble architect opinion.

Mainly because the challenges in these games involve spatial problems that go beyond mere mortal comprehension, most of them also play with the poetics of space in weird, wonderful ways.

There may be some games in here that are purely relevant for a design perspective (or beauty), they would be a master class in world-building if I say so myself. These games are lower on the list of course.

Many of these games partake in non-Euclidean space which is of particular interest to me as an architect, as this sort of space cannot be experienced in the real world. Perhaps VR will drive this experiential area forward??

Note that none of these games are strictly 2D, although Fez is arguable either way, and Monument Valley and Echochrome are experienced in a 2D fashion.

List items

  • The big, non-Euclidean daddy of them all. Perspective, space, movement, pattern, colour, everything. Combined. Awesome.

  • Like snooker, except for Mensa members. Have some philosophy thrown in for you smart types to boot. Sublimely constructed, and doesn't fight the player in the slightest.

  • An incredible world with layers upon layers of detail worth investigating. Probably one of the easiest games like this for non-gamers to get into. Epic world-building, art-direction and design.

  • This is the first comedy game that actually nailed it. Momentum and physics combine with portals and other such anomalies to pull you through this odd dystopian lab. Amazingly well worth the short run-through time, though don't take that as it's actually easy. Nothing on this list has anywhere near as much character as the Portal games.

  • A smash hit for a reason - and no not because it was oddly featured on House of Cards. Too easy for most, but fun while it lasts. The best 'Escher-Like' game so far.

  • More Portal, more complex. Not as direct and clear or minimal. If you love Portal, play this. Start with Portal before this if you haven't played either.

  • An eccentric, formal, spatial nightmare landscape. It's global-illumination run rampart. Impressive with what it leaves out. Anyone who designs in 3D will appreciate it, especially if they render out images at all. Chiaroscuro in navigable form.

  • This is pseudo 2D/3D platforming done incredibly. From the chiptune-alike sound and graphics, to the ultra-deep hidden puzzles. Not for the feint of heart if you want to go deep. Bring a pen and paper!

  • What do you do if like like exploring worlds, and also like electronic synth-based music????? Play this game that is. A neon 'Tron' world with beats to match. I full, self-contained synth/sequencer included - once you unlock it of course! Aurally significant.

  • A massive hit for a reason. Simple building blocks in a procedural world let you explore and construct in whatever way you like. It's almost the ultimate sandbox.

  • Well not much appeals more to some people than just weird trinkety boxes that have to be opened with weird puzzle logic. A great time waster.

  • More 'Escher-like' fun, but not as satisfying or amazingly pretty as Monument Valley. Check out the sequel if you like this also.

  • Another 3D/2D hybrid, where your perspective alters the course of a 2D platform character. Interesting, if a little shallow.

  • PreTty sort of mashed the weird best bits of a lot of FPSG games, notably moreso in an Id Software direction. Some awesome bits were running up walls so that your sense of up and down was entirely distorted, and a fantastic showpiece of shrinking down to miniature size on an in world 'globe' planet - all quite seamless.

  • Essentially this is designer Victor Antonov's best, most complete game up to this point. This guy was responsible for Half-Life 2's City 17 - an utterly, thoroughly lovely dystopian future a la 1984.

    The French character throughout Dishonored and it's semi steampunk aesthetic is absolutely stunning.

    Check out the sequel too!

  • A small-scale domestic locale add real gravitas to this short story. Rummage through this lifelike location for a great story. Tellingly the house is not actually realistic at all for a critical eye, but the 'lived-in' feel maintains a sense of reality far better than most games.

  • Realistic, considered, awe-inspiring, lovely. The world gained a lot of recognition for designer Victor Antanov, who went on to create the Dishonored world. HL2 set the bar for First Person Shooters, many, many years ago, and still holds up well today. The Portal series is understood to exist in the same universe!

  • Well, it's the ultimate, semi-realistic city/crime simulator. The detail is absolutely mind boggling - From fully functional TV Channels and programming, advertorial chains, restaurants, communities, landscapes, vehicular madness, it has it all. Some prefer the neon vibe of Vice City, some prefer the slightly more open sand-box of San Andreas.

    Los Santos and rural San Andreas make up this fictional world, and by far it is the most colourful and interesting Grand Theft Auto to date. Absolutely stellar!

  • Odd, obtuse, minimal and yet somewhat enchanting. This may be lost on most but it's worth a look.

  • The beauty of Rapture - the underseas objectivist utopia - is still amazing many years after release. Bioshock Infinity goes a little further, but it feels more cohesive in this game, perhaps as the confines are that much stronger. Heavily inspired by Ayn Rand's work.

  • Renaissance Italy wrought with fantastic beauty. Want to parkour all over Constantinople? Here you go. One for history buffs, if you can tolerate the loose grasp on actual history/reality.

  • Vast, deep space. an RTS with excellent aural and visual design.

  • Sci-fi done incredibly well from a design point of view. How can you not like a world that has vessel names such as 'Pillar of Autumn' and 'Of Fine Hearts'.

  • The original, fully 3D, no sense of up, labyrinth simulator. When most were addicted to Doom, the people who realised Doom actually was missing verticality (apart from some nifty engine coding tricks) were all over Descent. True three degrees of freedom, and a wonderful map view to boot - and shit yeah you absolutely needed that map!