There are Linux games for every taste: first person shooters, board and arcade games, strategy games. But if you prefer to train your intellectual skills instead of blasting monsters or conquering the world, there are a few high-quality puzzle games, too. In this article we will take a look at some of the best puzzle games for Linux.
Enigma is probably one of the most popular and addictive puzzle games on Linux’and deservedly so. It has all the attributes of a high-quality puzzle game: slick graphics, simple yet challenging game play, and a huge number of levels. What sets Enigma apart from other puzzle games is that it requires not only some intellectual skills, but also a lot of dexterity.
Enigma features about 700 levels – enough to keep you busy for hours.
Most Linux distributions have Enigma in their repositories, so you can easily install it using your distro’s package manager. On Ubuntu, use the Add/Remove Applications command to launch the package manager. To get access to Enigma, you have to enable access to the Universe repository containing unsupported applications. To do this, tick the Enable unsupported applications check box. Don’t worry about the “unsupported” part, the game installs and runs like any other Ubuntu application. Choose the Games section, tick the check box next to the Enigma game, press Apply, and you are in business.
The purpose of the game is to locate and uncover matching pairs of Oxyd stones by touching them with a black marble ball. This may sound like a doddle, but it most certainly is not. The marble ball is controlled by the mouse, but the tricky part is that the ball adheres to the laws of physics, which you must take into account when moving the ball. Managing the ball takes some practice, so don’t be surprised if in the beginning it moves like a drunken sailor. Luckily, the first couple of levels are not so difficult and they give you an opportunity to master your ball controlling skills.
What makes Enigma even more challenging (and addictive!) is that the game has three different types of landscapes: normal, two-players, and meditation landscapes. Each of them has its own rules, which ensures that you won’t get bored doing the same thing again and again.
Skull stones madness!
When on a normal landscape, use the ball to touch and uncover the similar oxyd stones. The ball also allows you to pick up different objects (where available). Some of them can help you to accomplish the level, while others can do quite the opposite. Black bombs, for example, can help you to blow up floor tiles and other objects (it’s actually a good thing). But you might want to stay away from skull stones: if you touch one of these, you are history. There are in fact landscapes, where all non-oxyd stones are skull stones — it’s like solving a puzzle in a mine field! Even worse, there are also invisible skull stones, so remember to wear your magic glasses to see them.
Despite its name, the two-player landscape is not designed for several players. Enigma doesn’t yet support network games, so the two-player landscapes are in reality a single-player game, where you control two marble balls.
Meditation landscapes require a steady hand and a lot of patience.
Meditation landscapes are called so for a reason: you have to have a steady hand and a lot of patience to accomplish a meditation level. Here you control several balls, and your objective is to put each ball in a pit. But be careful: one wrong or fast move and all the balls that have already been placed in the pits will be pushed out.
For many puzzle games, when you’ve solved the level, you don’t come back to it: what’s the point of solving the same puzzle again anyway? But in Enigma, you can do the same level again and again to perfect your ball controlling skills and beat your own time record.
Enigma is a fantastic puzzle game, and you can easily spend hours trying to solve a particularly tricky level. Once you’ve mastered the basics, make sure to check the game’s manual for additional info, tricks, and even spoilers. There is also a Web forum dedicated to Enigma’s tips and tricks . Finally, if 700 levels are still not enough for you, you can design your own using the BlackBallEd level editor.
Compose molecules by moving atoms – and learn some chemistry as well.
Atomix may not be as advanced as Enigma, but it is still a nice puzzle game, which can even help you to refresh your knowledge of chemistry. In Ubuntu, the game is available through the package manager, so installing the game shouldn’t cause any problems. The game resembles Sokoban, where the player pushes boxes around a maze. In Atomix, your objective is to compose the required molecule by pushing atoms around the maze. But there is a twist to it. In Sokoban, you can push a box one square at a time. In Atomix, when you push an atom, it flies all the way until it hits the wall. This makes the puzzle much more challenging, and constructing even a simple molecule can be a tricky thing to do.
A colored square is used to control the currently selected atom. Move the square using the Arrow keys on your keyboard to the atom you want to control (or simply click on it with the mouse) and press Enter. Now you can move the atom around using the Arrow keys. There is another thing you have to keep an eye on: each atom has one or more connectors, so there is only one way to “dock” the atoms correctly. All this makes Atomix a solid brain teaser and a great game for a lunch break.
If you think this level in Pathological is tricky…
…then take a look at this one!
If you like puzzles with falling objects like Tetris, then Pathological is for you. But if you think Tetris is tricky, wait till you play Pathological. Here you have to keep an eye on several rotating wheels, colored balls, triggers, and stoplights. The objective of the game is to fill each wheel with the balls of the same color. To rotate the wheel right-click on it with the mouse, and click on the ball to eject it from its current wheel. To make the game even more “interesting”, each level must be completed within a specified period of time. In addition to the wheels, a level in Pathological can contain several elements you have to take into account when playing the game and use them to complete the level.
For example, the painters allow you to color the passing balls to the specified color, while filters can only allow balls of a certain color to pass through. Things get even more complicated if the level contains stoplights. In this case, you don’t only have to fill the wheels with balls, but you also have to do it in a specified order. With a trigger, you must fill it by matching the specified color combination – and you have to do this fast: triggers can change their color combinations at any time! All this is enough to keep you busy for hours.
Enigma, Atomix, and Pathological are just a few puzzle games available for Linux. If you take a closer look at the Games section in Ubuntu’s package manager, you discover many other brain teasers from Same GNOME to Fish Filets. If you like puzzles, try them, too.
By Dmitri Popov