Most games have some type of physics engine. In a general sense, physics in video games is a set of rules for movement or interaction that everything in the game follows. For example, in the multiplayer shooter Overwatch, each playable character has a maximum jump height, is affected by gravity, and their bullets travel faster than their arrows. But other games, like Goat Simulator, Gang Beasts, Octodad, or the more recent Untitled Goose Game, use the physics engine itself as the main appeal of the game. So, in this physics-based genre, which games are actually going to challenge and potentially educate you?
Human Fall Flat
The first entry on this list is deceptive with its cutesy characters and simplistic art style. But dive underneath the comedic appearance, and you’ll find a game that encourages teamwork, communication, and out-of-the-box thinking using real-world physics in order to get past its many difficult puzzles. Use a battering ram to break through a locked door, row in tandem with your partner to move the boat, adjust the weight on the catapult to fling your friends across the chasm, and many more situations that require some real brain-power and coordination. If you and a few friends are interested in a funny, well made, co-op puzzle game, this is the one for you!
Portal and Portal 2
I know this one is technically two games, but I couldn’t include one without the other. In Portal, you play as Chell, a young woman held captive as a test subject in an enormous science facility. The only other character? A sadistic and darkly witty AI obsessed with running experiments and in charge of the whole place. Aperture Science’s newest invention is the portal gun, and the AI, GLaDOS, has designed a plethora of deadly puzzles to put both the gun, and Chell, to the test. This game provides humor, an interesting story, and mind-bending levels that challenge the player’s ability to think three-dimensionally.
Now, as much as you should play both of these games, if you only have room in the budget for one game, make it Portal 2. Without any spoilers, it provides an experience that fans of the first Portal will find true to form, but refreshing, and new players will find innovative even by 2020’s standards. The puzzles are more difficult than ever, and by the end you will have gained practical knowledge of the laws of physics.
The final game on this list is pretty different from the others, as it presents a more relaxing and sweet experience for players. You play as a little red robot named B.U.D., who’s tasked with cultivating Star Plants on a planet, to provide it with oxygen. Once you’ve successfully turned the world into a beautiful garden, you can grow the plants until they reach the moon, and be reunited with your M.O.M.. This physics game provides both a delightful challenge for all ages to exercise their brain, but also a loving message about conservation.