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Functional

Posted on July 26th, 2021

“Functional is a puzzle game about math and abstraction.”

A programming puzzle game which is purely text only. A little bit like TIS-100 but, if it were possible, even more paired back. You will be literally programming functions which you will use as building blocks for later challenges.

ComPressure

Posted on July 19th, 2021

“Design increasingly complex computation units powered by high pressure steam. From switches to steam based computers, all in a world of analogue pressure devices. Use previous designs to solve further challenges”

This is an old-school Zach like with a fairly basic UI in which (much like Kohctpyktop – Engineer of the people) you are tasked with taking a very low level logic system (in this case Steam valves rather than silicon) and using it to create more complex functionality.

Selfless Heroes

Posted on July 8th, 2020

Solve puzzles by designing an AI for a team of selfless heroes. Test your algorithm, optimize it, and emerge victorious from the dungeon!

You are controlling multiple knights with a single program. Each character uses the same logic so you need to program in a way that will work for all instances. Optimise for “steps” and/or “lines of code”. Nice visual programming interface. It is very “7 Billion Humans”

KnotBot

Posted on May 12th, 2020

From collecting buttons to solving tangled mazes, automate KnotBot on a quest of handcrafted puzzles.

This is a programming game with an interesting programming interface and a cute design but difficulty wise it appears to skew very young and doesn’t have a whole lot of content, which is a shame.

Mechanica

Posted on April 6th, 2020

Mechanica is an open-world survival game with a heavy focus on building and programming. Create your own bases, defenses, manufacturing systems and more. Explore the map and expand the scope and complexity of your creations.

Quite and interesting and unusual game for the programming category. It’s a survival/building game with programming and wiring elements.

Neon Noodles

Posted on December 8th, 2019

You are in charge of a futuristic kitchen operating in a mysterious cyberpunk world. Automate your robot chefs to cook recipes in perfectly elegant loops to create well oiled machines that churn out dish after dish. It’s a zach-like!

Their own description says it’s a Zach-like and that should tell you everything you need to know. Program robots (forward/back/turn/use etc) in order to make food. Optimise your solutions for speed, space, etc…

MOLEK-SYNTEZ

Posted on November 6th, 2019

Use the MOLEK-SYNTEZ to create small molecules with various pharmacological effects from the comfort of your small Romanian apartment.

If you are familiar with Zachtronics games then you’ll know what to expect. If you’re not then this probably isn’t going to be the most easily assessable one to start with but it appears to be somewhere between SpaceChem, Opus Magnum and TIS-100.

Robo Instructus

Posted on July 17th, 2019

Robo Instructus is a puzzle game in which players manoeuvre a robot by issuing instructions via a simple programming language.

Program a robot in order to solve puzzles. This one might be a bit difficult to get into just because it uses a code interface instead of any kind of visual language, but outside of the code window things look pretty and the triangle game board looks like an interesting twist.

Exception

Posted on July 12th, 2019

Exception is a game about AI programming. During the game, the player assists the units to defeat their enemies…the player needs to control the units by programming instead of controlling them directly.

This looks similar to Gladiabots (if a little simpler) in that you are using a visual programming editor to define the behaviour for your little units. Instead of the sports arena though, it looks like you have to work your way through a more puzzle-like set of levels.

Automachef

Posted on May 29th, 2019

Welcome to Automachef, a resource management puzzler where you design kitchens, program machinery and watch your genius come to life! It’s time to engineer tomorrow’s kitchen, today!

A game where you are rewriting bits of machine code in order to solve puzzles. Also looks to have a level editor where you can create your own levels in order to send them to the developer and maybe get them added to the game. There is also a slimmed-down web version you can try.

Rogue Bit

Posted on March 11th, 2019

A single bit of computer memory became sentient and decided to escape from digital into the real world. Explore RAM, modify bytes and hack machine code and CPU registers to set it free.

A game where you are rewriting bits of machine code in order to solve puzzles. Also looks to have a level editor where you can create your own levels in order to send them to the developer and maybe get them added to the game. There is also a slimmed-down web version you can try.

EXAPUNKS

Posted on March 11th, 2019

The year is 1997. You used to be a hacker, but now you have the phage. You made a deal: one hack, one dose. There’s nothing left to lose… except your life.

Zachtronics is back with another programming game with a cyberpunky storyline and in-game ‘zines’ for you to print out and play with. If you are new to Zachtronics games then there are probably easier ones to begin with, but if you’ve played all the others then you’ll want to play this too. There is even a separate program on Steam to allow you to run programs written in the in-game language!

Gladiabots

Posted on March 11th, 2019

AI COMBAT ARENA – Assemble your robot squad, construct their AI and send them in the battle arena to see your strategy play out.

For those who like there programming a bit more competitive, this game uses a visual programming language and tasks you with designing the AI for a set of robots who must go up against an opposing team.

Octopticom

Posted on March 11th, 2019

Use lasers, mirrors, filters and other components to read, transform and write sequences of colored squares.

This is “light redirection” style puzzle game where you are given a set of inputs, outputs, a grid and components you can place. The presentation looks pretty basic, but the puzzles seem solid and challenging.

7 Billion Humans

Posted on March 11th, 2019

Automate swarms of office workers to solve puzzles inside your very own parallel computer made of people….a thrilling followup to the award winning Human Resource Machine. Now with more humans!

If you enjoyed Human Resource Machine then this is more of the same, except with the twist of controlling multiple humans at once with your code.

Marvellous Inc.

Posted on March 11th, 2019

Marvellous Inc. is a programming puzzle game, where you program robots to solve tasks.

This one may put a lot of people off as it really doesn’t do a lot to make itself a ‘game’. You have a code editor and a programming goal and you have to figure it out.Marvellous Inc.

MindRover: The Europa Project

Posted on March 10th, 2019

Originally released in 2000. This game involved building a robot by taking a body, adding wheels/tracks/hover, steering, motors and sensors and then wiring them all together using various logic components in order to acheive various goals from simply following a line or going through a maze, to racing through coridors and locating and shooting other robots. Before the age of online multiplayer (and way before youTube), people used to have tournaments where everyone would email their robot save file to the person running the tournament. That person would run all the robots against each other two at a time and then post the results up on a website. I have a lot of nostalgia for this one. 🙂 For a recent version, try LogicBots.

Untrusted

Posted on March 10th, 2019

This is a curious little game which initally appears to be an ASCII rogue-like, but you quickly gain access to code blocks which build the levels and then it becomes an exercise in modifying the code to pass each level. Again, much like Elevator Saga, you have a vary paired down interface and they don’t hold your hand when it comes to already knowing how to program, but for people who already can, this looks like a fun way to use that skill.

Jahooma’s LogicBox

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Play and experiment with colorful little machines, called logic boxes! Combine them in a grid using drag-and-drop operations to build powerful new logic boxes.”

I wasn’t initially going to include this one on the list based on the first few levels, but the thing I liked about this was that the levels you build initially become the building blocks for you to use later. It was really difficult to categorise because it is almost exactly between a programming and logistics game, but I think the programming side is the main focus of the puzzles.

F.P.S. Frame Protector SYNC

Posted on March 10th, 2019

This game is again symilar to LightBot in that you are giving your character a set of actions to perform. The difference with this game is that instead of simply turning on floor tiles, in this game you specifically setting different colours and/or characters within a display.

Elevator Saga

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“This is a game of programming! Your task is to program the movement of elevators, by writing a program in JavaScript.”

If you are not already pretty familiar with Javascript then you are not going to get anywhere with this one. If you already know Javascript though then this could be interested. It’s very bare bones. You see a representation of a lift (or lifts) and you have a block of code used to control the lift. Incrementally modify and improve your control program based on the requirements for each level.

Kohctpyktop – Engineer of the people

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“In KOHCTPYKTOP: Engineer of the People, you play as an engineer working in a semiconductor factory designing integrated circuits based on specifications provided to you.”

I can’t think of any way you could possibly create a lower-level programming game than this. You are manipulating different materials in order to build basic logic functionality which you then add all together to solve logic problems. It’s so low level that you may actually have to deal with race-conditions across the circuitry in your solution! Not easy but if you want a challenge…

The Codex of Alchemical Engineering

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“The Codex of Alchemical Engineering is a puzzle game about programming ‘manipulators’ to move, transmute, and bind alchemical ‘atoms’ into complex compounds.”

The game that inspired SpaceChem. You can place down various little machines and robot arms and then give each arm a set of actions which it should perform. Use the arms to move, combine and modify various elements. Starts pretty simple. Gets pretty complicated and if you finish it, there is the Magnum Opus challenge which gives you a whole new set of levels.

Colobot

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Colobot: Gold Edition is a real-time strategy game, where you can program your units (bots) in a language called CBOT, which is similar to C++ and Java.”

This game is now free as an open source project. The original game was released in 2001 but is no longer available. It is a survival game where you have a group of robots available to you. You can control them directly or program them to do tasks for you. You goal is to colonize nine different planets.

RoboLogic 2

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“You have to program a robot’s movements by dragging commands to the memory of the bot.”

Very very similar to LightBot, but if you like that style of game then this is more of the same.

Hacked

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Until today, coding on a smartphone was painful and boring. We wanted to change that. So we created a powerful yet simple language – H – along with a mobile friendly code editor – the Hackpad”

This is an odd one. It has a whole set of puzzles in it, but up front they seem to be more interested in pushing the language/IDE that they have made. To be fair, it is pretty much usable even on a phone (although my phone had serious slow-down issues) but it seems weird that you can then only use it within the game itself and they limit you on save slots unless you buy blocks of in-app currency. Definitely worth a look if you are very into the programming, but might end up alienating you a little.

CargoBot

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Cargo-Bot is a puzzle game where you teach a robot how to move crates. Sounds simple, right?”

This game appears to primarily be an advert for a development environment, but actually the game itself is a lot of fun and definitely gets your brain thinking. It has a lot in common with LightBot in that you are giving your robot (arm) a sequence of actions in order to get the crates into the correct order. Even if it wasn’t free it would still be worth a look. But it is free so check it out!

Lightbot

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“LightBot is a puzzle game based on coding; it secretly teaches you programming logic as you play!”

One of the most well-known of the programming style of game. You have a little robot and you want to light up various tiles on each level. Give them a series of actions and make use of sub routines to complete the level. LightBot has a very simple clean UI.

God Is A Cube

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“God is a Cube is a programming puzzle game where you control nanomachines (small robots), by creating powerful Artificial Intelligences made of graphical symbols.”

At first glance this looks like another LightBot-style robot programming game where you give commands to your avatar and set them off but this looks to be made more complicated by introducing things like branching paths in your programming script.

MHRD

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“MHRD is a hardware design game, in which you design various hardware circuits in a hardware description language. The hardware circuits you design get more complex as you go until you create a fully functional CPU design.”

This seems to be one of the most intentionally unapproachable games I’ve seen in a while. It appears to be a game of wiring up various logic gates in order to get the required output, but instead of a visual interface, the game is presented as if though through a ascii-only terminal where you have type out the various components you want to use and how they are assigned to other elements.

Robo Do It

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Robo Do It is a funny game to learn logic programming without writing code by building scripts to program robots in each level.”

Very much like Jump Step Step, this is a LightBot style programming game where you decide what actions your little robot should take and then let them go. The presentation isn’t as bold as Jump Step Step, but again it’s also pretty cheap.

Algotica – Iteration 1

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Algotica is an educational adventure-puzzle game about programming, along with a story that breaks the fourth wall.”

It says it is educational but but it doesn’t seem to be anymore so that other LightBot clones. This game looks really pretty but appears to have quite a few bugs and the developer has said they aren’t supporting it. They did say that they plan to redesign it in the future and port it to mobile, at which point this might become a much more tempting buy. Right now though buyer definitely beware!!

Jump Step Step

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Jump Step Step is a gorgeous and funny programming game with bonsai trees, a crazy robot and a broken rocket.”

This is a LightBot style programming game where you decide what actions your little robot should take and then let them go. The presentation is really bright and colourful. It’s also pretty cheap.

Algo Bot

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Algo Bot is a coding-based puzzle game that takes place deep inside the Europa, a pan-galactic colonisation ship, where a recycling mission goes horribly wrong.”

This is another programming game in the LightBot vein. Working your way through the story isn’t going to give you too much of a challenge but the graphics, story and sense of humor make the trip worthwhile. There are extra steam achievements if you want more of a challenge.

Prelogate

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Prelogate is a logic puzzle game. Solve puzzles by redirecting laser beams, mixing them and controlling them with logic gates.”

This one is a little difficult to categorize. I think it is closest to programming because the complexity in this game comes from the use of logic gates. The lasers are kind of a stand-in for electric wires, but because they are using light instead it means they can do interesting things like mixing colours.

Silicon Zeroes

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Build hardware. Solve puzzles. From the creator of Manufactoria, a new open-ended puzzle game set in Silicon Valley’s first startup.”

This is a programming game in the circuitry style. You are using simple components (adders, timers, latches etc) and the game revolves around figuring out the logic and figuring out where to route the various signals from your components. The UI uses a simple circuit diagram/blueprint kinda of look which seems appropriate and allows you to see what’s going on.

LogicBots

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“LogicBots is a puzzle game, however it is not your usual puzzle game as in this game you don’t complete the puzzles directly, instead you build a robot to complete the puzzle for you.”

Based on MindRover, in this game you create a robot from a selection of components, attach sensors and then wire up the behaviour in order to solve various tasks. The programming is logic based and will see you dragging various logic gates onto your circuit board and then wiring them all together so that your little robot can do things like follow a line on the floor or navigate through a maze.

Screeps

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Screeps means ‘scripting creeps.’ It’s an open-source sandbox MMO RTS game for programmers, wherein the core mechanic is programming your units’ AI.”

This may be one of the most intimidating games on the list. I love programming puzzle games but I don’t kid myself that I’m a super genius at them. The idea of playing against other people has made me hold off on this one so far, but if you fancy a challenge then this is unarguably one of the most unique games on the list.

Hack n Slash

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Hack ‘n’ Slash is a puzzle action game about hacking – reprogram object properties, hijack global variables, hack creature behavior, and even rewrite the game’s code.”

Again, this one I wasn’t sure about because, at least initially this is just an adventure game where you appear to just be changing variable values, which isn’t the same as actually building logic, but it looks like that may be something available later in the game. Might be worth a look if you like adventure games and don’t mind a slow start.

Prime Mover

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Prime Mover is an open-ended puzzle game about designing circuit boards. Work your way from transistor to processor, uncover the story of the Byte of Burden!”

A retro themed visual programming game with a sci-fi story where you are building ‘circuits’ which act as pathways for data packets to travel along. Use the various components to affects the data as required. Comes with the graphs usually associated with Zachtronic games to encourage optimisation.

while True: learn()

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“while True: learn() is a simulator of a machine learning specialist who uses visual programming to make his and his cat’s living. Make money as a machine learning developer.”

This is a visual programming game but also feels a bit like a logistics game because you are moving data around from location to location, filtering and sorting them as you go. Your solutions will earn you money which you can use to buy hats for your cat! Optimise your solutions to make more money.

else Heart.Break()

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Else Heart.Break() is a reimagination of the adventure game: a fantastic story set in a fully dynamic and interactive world. Instead of rigid puzzles you will learn (with the help from other characters in the game) how the reality of the game can be changed through programming”

This game is definitely an adventure game first and so I wasn’t sure about including it on the list, but the puzzles are definitely based around programming and that seems to be core to the game so I’ve included it. If you want programming puzzles with a whole load of story with them then this seems ideal.

Cyber Sentinel

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Experience the hacker’s side of cyberpunk in Cyber Sentinel! This design-based puzzle game features a complete visual programming kit for designing your own viruses.”

This game uses a visual programming language to allow you to move your avatars through levels collecting files and avoiding enemies. The programming interface is really nice in the way it lets you wire actions together (and feels really nice on mobile) and the way you interact with (and can change the colour of) coloured floor tiles adds a lot of depth to the gameplay. There are also graphs for optimisation fun and community levels to play!

Autonauts

Posted on March 10th, 2019

The ‘Automationauts’ (to give them their fuller, grander, longerwindeder title) travel the universe with the sole goal of setting worlds in motion through the power of automation.

Autonauts is an automation game. You start with nothing but sticks and stones but quickly are able make your own little robots. Once you get to that point the game just takes off. You can automate anything you do either by getting the robots to watch you and directly with a nice visual programming language. Before you know it you have hundreds of the little things working away like bees in a hive. It’s really satisfying to build up little production systems and then watch them go!

Human Resource Machine

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Program little office workers to solve puzzles. Be a good employee! The machines are coming… for your job.”

Use a visual programming language to solve which involve taking one set of inputs and generating a set of outputs. Puzzles can get very challenging towards the end especially if you are trying to achieve the optional goals for speed and number of operations! On top of a really nice UI and solid puzzles, the visual style is also really quirky and fun. If this sounds interesting, don’t forget that the sequel, 7 Billion Humans is also available.

Shenzen I/O

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“SHENZHEN I/O: BUILD CIRCUITS. WRITE CODE. RTFM.”

This game is kind of an evolution of TIS-100 in that you are still writing low-level code but there is also an electronics element involved so you are also building circuit boards with various components from simple logic gates and memory blocks, to different types of programmable processor. Again you have the usual options for optimisation and there is a sandbox mode to play with.

TIS-100

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“TIS-100 is an open-ended programming game in which you rewrite corrupted code segments to repair the TIS-100 and unlock its secrets. It’s the assembly language programming game you never asked for!”

The blurb for this game pretty much says it all. If you like pretty low-level programming puzzles then you are in luck. The interesting part of this game is the way you have multiple modules all running in parallel which can make for some really interesting solutions. Again, you have optimisations for number of modules and speed etc.

Opus Magnum

Posted on March 10th, 2019

“Master the intricate, physical machinery of the transmutation engine, the alchemical engineer’s most advanced tool, and use it to create vital remedies, precious gemstones, deadly weapons, and more.”

This is a spiritual successor to one of Zachtronics earliest games called The Codex of Alchemical Engineering. In this game you set up and program an assortment of grabbers and little machines to pick up, combine and manipulate elements. The interface is really slick and it is as satisfying as ever to see little molecules being put together. Again you have graphs for things like speed, cost and footprint which keeps you coming back to fiddle.