Looking for exploration/immersive puzzle games
May 2, 2012 10:08 AM   Subscribe

I've been a long-time fan of the Myst series, but up until recently with Fez I didn't realize how much I missed atmospheric games based heavily on exploration and worldbuilding-type puzzles. Can anyone recommend more?

"Worldbuilding" puzzles might be a little unclear; by that I mean things less like "this room has a puzzle, solve it" and more "piecing together language and number systems by natural instances of it throughout the game."

I'm fairly fine with whatever system and genre you recommend (I've even played a fair bit of IF) and I'm fine with games that don't hit it all exactly - I'd just love some suggestions along the lines of Fez and the Myst series.
posted by flatluigi to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 75 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe Swords and Sworcery on iOs?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:12 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

This might not be exactly what you're looking for, but The Dig is an old LucasArts adventure game about astronauts on an (abandoned?) alien world trying to interact with its technology.
posted by griphus at 10:28 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Myst is coming out on iOS. No idea if they've changed anything apart from graphics and interaction, though.

And then there's The Witness, coming out soon.
posted by slater at 10:35 AM on May 2, 2012

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is somewhat like this. It is not as explict as learning the language and numbering system of the people of Myst (and whatever that follow on game was) but there are lots of cases where learning about new tools and techniques in one area of the world allow you to go and learn new things about land you had previously explored.
posted by mmascolino at 11:37 AM on May 2, 2012

The Submachine games are great little puzzles. There are all sort of different kinds of things to solve - a lot of them to do with finding patterns and interpreting symbols. And there are a lot of games in the series.
posted by pipeski at 11:40 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Journey came out recently and is certainly atmospheric. More on the adventure side of this genre than the puzzle, but has puzzle elements and a unique experience.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:58 PM on May 2, 2012

Riven was followup, and it was also great.

Swords And Sworcery was a little too impressed with its own cleverness, for me; it didn't take long to get really annoying.

Whatever platform you're on, you probably want Machinarium, and everything else you can get from Amanita Design.

On the PS2 or PS3, ICO gave me the same sense of beautiful-architecture-on-the-edges-of-understanding that Myst did back in the day, and even though it's a very different game, Shadow Of The Colossus is a heartbreakingly beautiful game, one of the great of all time.

Metroid Prime was very much a first person shooter, but much of the exploration was puzzles built into the environment, and the Chozo lore part of it gave me a bit of that same lost-in-an-ancient-world frisson. It's a very different game than what you're asking for, though.
posted by mhoye at 1:22 PM on May 2, 2012

I say "greats of all time" as though video games have actually been around for a long time, but you know what I mean.
posted by mhoye at 1:23 PM on May 2, 2012

Two IF suggestions, if you haven't already played them: Anchorhead and Savoir Faire. Anchorhead has an elaborate map and volumes of historical documents you need to read and analyze in order to beat the game. Savoir Faire has a very clever puzzle mechanic that plays in interesting ways with the history and metaphysics of the world it's situated in. Both have great writing.
posted by aparrish at 1:25 PM on May 2, 2012

Came in to say Submachine and Amanita games as well.
posted by Mchelly at 1:44 PM on May 2, 2012

For one more day only, Humble Bundle is having a sale on Amanita Design's games, including Machinarium and their newest, Botanicula.
posted by Tufa at 2:35 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Knytt and Knytt Stories are pretty much pure exploration and atmosphere. They're light on puzzles but I'd argue the worldbuilding is there, in an understated way.

The same developer also released Saira, which looks promising, though I haven't played it.
posted by speicus at 3:24 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Machinarium is great.
posted by bongo_x at 7:01 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I have two things to say: First, those are all absolutely fantastic suggestions and quite like what I'm looking for.

Second, I know that because without exception I've already played and beaten all of those. :S
posted by flatluigi at 9:11 PM on May 2, 2012

Sad trombone. Well, in that case, do you have any more games to recommend to us? :D
posted by speicus at 9:58 PM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Stranded II -- think Castaway: The Video Game!

Noctis IV is a trove of evocative, minimalist exploration (not much to create/solve, though)

As mentioned, Shadow of the Colossus has superb, deeply melancholy atmosphere, though the puzzles (while uniquely challenging) are focused more on taking things down.

And it might be too obvious, but I'm surprised no one's mentioned single-player Minecraft. Near-infinite exploration, lots of crafting techniques to explore, immersive style, etc.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:00 AM on May 3, 2012

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