We all need to take some ‘me time’ every now and then to make sure we’re getting enough rest in our busy lives. However, resting doesn’t necessarily mean we have to switch off our brains entirely, as there are plenty of fun and interesting ways to engage our minds during downtime.
One effective way to combine leisure and mental exercise is to get stuck into a good brain teaser or puzzle game.
With that said, we’ve pulled together a list of 11 of our favourite free puzzle games and apps across PC, Android, and iOS. We’d love to know in the comments below which ones you’ve tried – and whether you’d recommend any others.
Having taken the world by storm since its release in October 2021, Wordle has since become a part of millions of people’s daily routines.
If you haven’t heard of this smart yet simplistic daily word game, or you’re just not sure how to play yet, why not have a go? You might find yourself becoming part of the phenomenon.
Each day, a new Wordle puzzle is released. The aim is to guess the five-letter word in six tries. Correct letters that are also in the correct place will be revealed in green with each guess.
Meanwhile, letters that form part of the word but aren’t in the right place will turn yellow, and letters that aren’t in the word at all will turn grey.
The game’s simplicity and accessibility are surely to thank for its overwhelming popularity and for bringing so many people together.
To have a go at Wordle, you can visit the website on your PC or smartphone.
Another wonderfully simple online puzzle game is 2048.
In 2048, you move numbered tiles around a 16×16 grid. Tiles with the same number combine with one another and add up when moved into the same space.
The aim of the game is to combine tiles until you’re left with one that totals 2048, without running out of space as more tiles are continually added to the grid.
You can play 2048 for free on its website, or download the free app on Google Play or Apple App Stores using the buttons below.
3. Words With Friends 2
Similar to Scrabble, Words With Friends 2 is an online multiplayer word game where you compete to score the most points.
You do this by constructing the longest and most complex words on a crossword-style game board using the word tiles you’re dealt.
Popular since its release in 2009, Words With Friends has become the go-to competitive word puzzle game to play online. It’s great to help you stay connected with friends and family who live far away.
To play Words With Friends 2, you can visit their website, or download the free app on Google Play or Apple App Stores.
4. Online jigsaw puzzles
While the tactile feeling of clicking pieces into place is part of what makes completing a jigsaw puzzle so satisfying, there’s still plenty of joy and benefits to be had by solving jigsaw puzzles online – especially if you’re on the go.
Jigsaw Explorer offers lots of fun puzzles to solve online every day. It has different difficulty levels and even ‘mystery’ puzzles, which only reveal a portion of the full image before you begin the jigsaw puzzle.
If you want to solve jigsaw puzzles on your smartphone or tablet, Magic Jigsaw Puzzles also offers a simple and clean jigsaw-solving experience on Google Play or Apple App Stores. Though additional puzzle packs can be purchased, the app offers thousands of puzzles for free and adds new ones every month.
As the bespoke URL name suggests, Chess.com is the internet’s hub for all things chess.
Its simple and refined interface allows players to compete online against opponents around the world. To make each game as interesting and sporting as possible, players are matched by their skill level.
Chess.com also offers a variety of ‘training bots’ to play against. These bots have different difficulty levels and play styles. For example, there are more defensive bots, bots with unique tactics, and bots that adapt in real-time to keep you on your toes when you’re doing well and cut you some slack when you’re not. You can even play against simulations of real-world chess masters if you fancy a real challenge!
The website also hosts a number of different chess puzzles – where the aim is to solve your way out of different chess situations. There are various modes to try here, including player-VS-player puzzle battles, puzzle rush (where you have three or five minutes to solve as many puzzles as you can), and even practise drills.
Other things to get involved with on Chess.com include community features, live-streamed games, tournaments, and even four-player chess, to name only a few.
To get started, visit the Chess.com website, or download the free app on Google Play or Apple App Stores.
If you’re looking for a fun way to train your brain, Peak could be the mobile app for you.
Peak is a brain training app that provides short bursts of cognitive exercise. Each game or activity centres around improving focus, memory, problem-solving, and mental agility.
The motivational coach tool also tracks your progress and challenges you with new games to help you reach your goals.
Peak was created in collaboration with scientists studying how video games affect our brains, so it’s no wonder that it’s been awarded ‘Best of the Year’ and ‘Editor’s Choice’ on both the Google Play and Apple App Stores.
Peak is free to play, but does offer a paid subscription for extra features. If you want to try Peak today, you can download it for free from Google Play or Apple App Stores.
7. Classic newspaper puzzles
With the rise of online news media, for many of us, physical newspapers are no longer a regular part of daily life. So it’s likely that a lot of former newspaper puzzlers will be missing out on their hobby.
But, just because you haven’t held a newspaper in a while, doesn’t mean you can’t keep puzzling. All of the classic newspaper brain teasers are available online, in an even more convenient form.
Alternatively, you can download the Guardian Puzzle App on Google Play or Apple App Stores. A paid subscription grants you access to the full collection, but the free version is updated with a new sudoku and crossword puzzle every day.
hocus. is an optical illusion puzzle game based on the mind-bending illustrations of M.C. Escher.
The goal is to move your red shape to the red finish tile, which may look simple enough – until you realise that traversing these impossible shapes may not be as easy as you think.
hocus. is available to download for free on Google Play or Apple App Stores. It’s also available on PC via the video game storefront, Steam. Through Steam, however, you’ll have to purchase the game for £0.79.
9. Brain It On!
Brain It On! is a genius physics-based puzzle game where the aim is to complete various challenges by drawing your own shapes to interact with the objects on-screen.
The shape and weight of your drawing will be crucial to your success, and there are multiple possible solutions for each level – so this game is sure to challenge your thinking.
You can download Brain It On! for free from Google Play or Apple App Stores.
10. Chess Light
More of a game inspired by chess than an actual chess app, Chess Light is a clever game where the aim is to solve a variety of puzzles with chess pieces on small, differently-shaped cutout chess boards.
The aim is to land your piece on every space on the board to light them up – which can be quite the challenge.
Chess Light is similar to many of the other chess puzzles you can find on Chess.com, though they require a different kind of creative thought.
You can download Chess Light for free on Google Play or Apple App Stores.
11. Turn It On! Free
Turn It On! Free is the ideal game for anybody who loves fiddling with technological bits and bobs.
In this game, you’re tasked with activating various black boxes of increasing complexity and mystery.
You’ll start off with a small switchboard with only a few possible switch configurations to try, but complete the opening levels and you’ll eventually be faced with rows and rows of switches, buttons, and lights!
Turn It On! Free is available to download for free on the Google Play Store.
We hope our list has helped you find a new favourite puzzle challenge – or at least a few hours of stimulating fun.
If you’re looking for more interesting and engaging ways to spend your free time, you might want to check out the art and culture or learning section of our website. Or, if you’re interested in solving puzzles and meeting new people, why not try the coffee and crossword club over on Rest Less Events?