10 puzzle games under $10 that will consume your life

I love tiny little puzzle games. I would even go as far as to say I'm a fanboy of indie puzzlers—simple, 2D, single-screen puzzles that you can stare at for hours but still walk away from at any moment. I love the way they use minimalist visuals as a facade for mind-crushing difficulty, and that most times the best way to solve a puzzle I'm stuck on is to step away for a day or two and come back with fresh eyes. 

We also have a larger list of the best puzzle games on PC, and while there is some overlap, playing a a game like Portal or Fez doesn't always scratch the same brainteasing itch as puzzlers like Hexcells or Snakebird. These are 10 of my favorite little puzzle games (in no particular order) that are challenging, simple, and extremely affordable—all 10 of them would only cost $52 total, and could keep you busy for months.  

Klocki

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Price: $1/£0.79
Developer: Maciej Targoni, Wojciech Wasiak

Klocki is the first of two games on this list by Maciej Targoni and Wojciech Wasiak. They make shorter puzzle games, but that also means they are only $1/£0.79. It's a game about swapping tiles to complete shapes and lines, starting simple on a 2D plane and eventually wrapping around cubes and corners. While both Klocki and Hook share the duo's simple style, I really like the colors Klocki introduces. It's a bright and cheery game, but not distractingly so. 

This game is available at a 15% discount when bundled with two other games on this list as part of the Relaxing Puzzle Box. 

Snakebird

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Price: $7/£5
Developer: Noumenon Games

I'm just going to be blunt here: if you can only buy one game on this list, make it Snakebird. I love Snakebird so flippin' much it's embarrassing, and I feel like it flitted by as an underappreciated gem in 2015. Don't let its adorable visuals and silly sound effects fool you, Snakebird is a hard-as-nails puzzler with a core mechanic not quite like any other I've used. You move snake-like bird things around each level, picking up all the fruit before getting them to an exit—but the snakebirds can't move backward and eating fruit will grow them by a segment, making it easy to accidentally corner yourself. It's just great, and a pretty hefty length (I still haven't solved its later levels) considering the price. Did I mention I love Snakebird yet?

Hook

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Price: $1/£0.79
Developer: Maciej Targoni, Wojciech Wasiak

As the other game on this list by Maciej Targoni and Wojciech Wasiak, Hook shares a similarly minimalist presentation. You are presented with a tangle of lines and circles, and have to unhook them all in the proper order. It's the type of puzzle game I love because it teaches you a visual language as you play it—jumping into a late level headfirst would leave you clueless, but playing them in order builds up your visual vocabulary for the game. And while it doesn't share Klocki's colors, it's still a lovely looking game.

This game is available at a 15% discount when bundled with two other games on this list as part of the Relaxing Puzzle Box. 

Zenge

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Price: $1/£0.79
Developer: Michael Pawlowki

Zenge is another puzzle game in the "do things in a certain order" vein. A mess of shapes are linked to a set of tracks, and you have to slide the pieces around in the right order to complete an image. It's a calming game accompanied with some light storytelling. It sort of reminds me of those classic sliding number puzzles, but with some nice visuals and a lot more tricky interactions (like twisting pieces and odd shapes) to shake that formula up each level. 

This game is available at a 15% discount when bundled with two other games on this list as part of the Relaxing Puzzle Box. 

Cosmic Express

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Price: $10/£7
Developer: Cosmic Engineers, Alan Hazelden, Benjamin Davis, Tyu 

Cosmic Express may be the most deceptively straightforward game on this list. It's really easy to sit down and say "well I don't get why this will be hard" in its first few levels, only to be stumped as it notches the challenge up immediately. You have to draw a track from an entrance to an exit while picking up and dropping off color-coordinated aliens at their respective homes along the way. The train can't backtrack or overlap other pieces of track, and you only have a limited number of seats for aliens along the way. So while the puzzle may just be a big empty room with two aliens and two houses, actually figuring out how to properly draw that track isn't so simple. 

Alan Hazelden and Benjamin Davis also made another one of my favorite little puzzle games called A Good Snowman is Hard to Build.

Entangle

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Price: $6/£4.79
Developer: Blake Garner

Entangle is a bit similar to Hook, but comes with a brighter and more cartoony style. Also, instead of simply clicking pieces to move them, you drag each object in Entangle to move it out of the way and make room for other pieces to adjust. I enjoy the lighthearted look of it (and it includes a color blind mode, which is a lovely touch), but it's a game that gets seriously complex, as the trailer above shows. 

Linelight

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Price: $10/£7
Developer: My Dog Zorro

Linelight has you move between screens, each with a self-contained puzzle of its own. You move a line along set paths, trying to make it to the other side of each screen while collecting gold objects along the way. One of my favorite parts of Linelight is how flexible the difficulty is—you can skip the pick-ups if you prefer, but getting them is a challenge, and there are hidden levels that ramp up the difficulty even more. And even though it's simple, Linelight's presentation and music set it apart from a lot of other puzzle games. It's a minimalist style that's been polished to a wonderful sparkle. 

Hexcells Complete Pack

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Price: $9/£6
Developer: Matthew Brown

Hexcells is a hex-based game about revealing patterns and numbers. It reminds me a bit of an update or reimagining of Minesweeper, though that's not a perfect comparison. Hexcells' levels start simple enough, but eventually get sprawling and amorphous. The Complete Pack includes the base game, its expansion, and Hexcells Infinite, which has more levels and a randomly generated infinite mode. You can also get Hexcells or Hexcells Infinite individually if you prefer, but the bundle saves you a couple bucks. 

Lyne

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Price: $3/£2
Developer: Thomas Bowker

Lyne is a game about connecting similar shapes in a limited amount of space. You drag lines through identical shapes and neutral connectors, trying to not cross over other lines or overfill those connectors. Basically, it's super complex connect the dots, but that doesn't really imply 'challenging puzzle game' as well as it should. It has hundreds of handmade levels alongside a procedural puzzle generator of its own, so Lyne should be able to keep your brain teased for a long time. 

Kami

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Price: $4/£2.79
Developer: State of Play Games

Kami is one of the prettiest options on this list, a folding puzzle game styled to look like pieces of origami paper. But instead of going the tangrams route I expected from that art direction, Kami is all about unfolding a color to fill the screen in as few moves as possible. It's another one of those games that can be as easy or as hard as you make it, either pushing yourself to find the perfect solution in every level or just casually solving them as you go. Kami has been around for more than four years now, but it still holds up as a great puzzle game.

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