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Games For Smart People

GGC Recommended Brain Strengthening Games For Intellectuals

Are you looking to have some fun while working out your brain? Are you trying to show off your skills in front of friends? Are you wanting new original games beyond chess, crossword puzzles, and sudoku? Lucky for you, Gotham Immersive Labs has collated a list of games that will exercise your mental muscles while guaranteeing a good time. This is our list of the best games for smart people, we also have a list of the best board games for team building.

Physical Games (Board Games, Pen and Paper Games, Live Action Games)

Codenames (4-8+ players)

Codenames is a great party game for groups that like to make connections. In Codenames, two teams elect a spymaster who must indicate a specific word using only one word clues or terms from a predetermined collection of phrases. They must also avoid phrases belonging to the other team, neutral "passerby" phrases, and the dreaded "assassin" phrase.

This game requires creativity by the spymaster while encouraging deductive reasoning among the teams. Players must get into the head of the spymaster to figure out the often cryptic mental connections they've made to guide teammates to the correct words.

Hive (2 players)

Closeup of Hive.  A board game with unique black and whitehexogonal tiles with colored insects on them.

Hive is an entomological chess-like 2-player strategy game where players place hexagonal tokens featuring different bugs attempting to surround the other player's queen bee. Players add game pieces sequentially, each with unique movement rules and strategy.

As with most 2-player strategy games, players develop specialized techniques at higher skill levels, though without a board or a standard array of pieces, mental agility is often required to secure a win.

Mystery in the Mighty Metropolis (3-5 players per group)

A murder mystery party with a plethora of twists, Mystery in the Mighty Metropolis (or MMM) brings in live character actors, themed clues and décor, a brilliant app, and plenty of unique brain games to unravel a conundrum catered to your real-life event. Only the most daring teams will track down each suspect and determine who did the dastardly deed.

Root (2-4 players)

Box art for the board game Root. A colorful illustrated forest with a mouse with a rope, a corvid with a bow and arrow, a cat with an axe, and a racoon with a dagger.

The Marquis de Cat has taken control of the great forest, and now the various creatures of the forest must band together into factions to undermine her. Root is an asymmetrical war game where players control a unique forest faction (including the Marquis's) attempting to gain and maintain control over the woods.

Each faction has different abilities, play styles, and victory conditions. Players have a lot to keep track of and must consider their moves carefully to outmaneuver their enemies.

PostCurious: The Light in the Mist (1-4 players)

We at Gotham Immersive Labs love everything that PostCurious creates, but if we had to pick one game to recommend, it would be The Light in the Mist. This narrative puzzle adventure provides players with a custom, beautifully illustrated tarot deck that hides hidden messages, unique puzzles catering to varying degrees of puzzle-solving skill, and an unfolding narrative of a mysterious disappearance and a coming-of-age journey.

Go (2 players)

Closeup of a Go gameboard full of white and black game pieces.

Go, believed to be the world's oldest continuously played board game, is a strategy game in which players place black and white stones on a grid, trying to surround the most territory on the board. It was once considered one of the four essential arts of a cultured Chinese scholar, and despite its simple appearance, the number of potential board configurations potentially outnumbers the number of atoms in the observable universe.

Snippets (2-8 players)

An exercise in memory, and spelling skills, Snippets asks players to name as many words that contain a certain snippet of letters as they can . The player with the most unique words at the end of the round wins the round. It is a great game for measuring your vocabulary and ability to focus under time pressure against your opponents.

Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment (2-8 players)

Booming in popularity during the quarantine era of the pandemic, boxed escape rooms are a way to experience the thrill and challenge of an escape room from your own home. The Werewolf Experiment tasks players with thwarting a mad scientist as he tries to turn them into werewolves. Packed with Petri dishes, syringes, and other laboratory themed brain teasers, this is one of the most immersive and well-designed boxed escape games on the market.

Scrabble (2-4 players)

Closeup of a scrabble board game with tiles randomly strewn across the board.

The classic word building game, where you can show off your vocab by laying down “qi” on a triple letter space or “syzygy” on a double word. Scrabble has an avid community of players and even if you can’t convince one of your friends to play with you, there are a number of ways to play with people online.

Pandemic Legacy (2-4 players)

If you're looking for a game that will never be played the same way twice, you've found it. Pandemic Legacy is a cooperative campaign game that asks players to battle four plagues over a year, with the progress of time bringing new challenges and complications.

In legacy games, the consequences of one game carry over into the next. Pandemic Legacy is challenging because players must alter game pieces, write over them, place stickers on them, or even destroy them. The evolving landscape changes your chosen strengths and weaknesses over time. For this reason, strategic planning and problem solving are required not only to win the game but also to ensure that future games succeed.

Mahjong (3-4 players)

A Mahjong set on a felt table with a hand taking a tile.

Traditional Mahjong, not to be confused with Mahjong Solitaire, is a betting game that is compared to the card game rummy. Players draw and discard tiles looking to complete a standard winning hand of four sets and one pair, or one of a number of special winning hands. Skills and strategy play a hand in securing a win, but the luck of the draw is a factor that can always turn the tides.

Spirit Island (1-4 players)

A cooperative game with a powerful theme, Spirit Island has your group play as elemental spirits defending your island home from colonizers who have come to strip the land of its resources. Each spirit uses different powers and strategies to defend their territory, and the game has several adversaries to choose from, so play style can change with each play. Spirit Island is complex game that encourages both problem solving and quick thinking in order to win, where only the most adept survive.

Digital Games (Video Games, Apps, Browser Games)

Myst (Android, DS and 3DS, iOS, PC, PlayStations 1 and Portable)

Myst is a well known classic of the point and click genre. Players find themselves on the isle of Myst, where pages of books lead to other worlds, and puzzles uncover the narrative of two brothers who blame each other for their father's death. The game emphasizes thoroughly investigating all areas and rewards players with a good short term memory for previously revealed details.

The Great Gotham Challenge: Control/Alt/Decode (Browser)

A virtual escape room/clue hunt that has players chasing leads all over the internet, GGC's virtual game comes in two flavors: one revolving around the enigmatic painting The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein, and the other diving into the world of music and a particular peculiar song.

Both games are jam packed with well-varied brain teasers, surprising reveals, fun tidbits of real life knowledge, and puzzles that put your cognitive skills to the test.

Baba is You (Android, iOS, PC, Switch)

Screenshot of Baba Is You.  Two rooms, with random writing, keys, and doors.

Baba is You is a puzzle game revolving around syntax and simple computer logic. For example, BABA IS YOU, meaning you control Baba, a little blobby creature. Players must move around blocks of nouns, verbs, and operators to change the rules of the game, making walls immaterial and turning themselves into a key until, eventually, LEVEL IS WIN. At higher levels, not only the characters but the playing field and the game system itself become challenges to win.

Return of the Obra Dinn (PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One)

A first person puzzle adventure with a striking art style, Return of the Obra Dinn has players investigate the fate of the Obra Dinn, a ship that has washed ashore bereft of all its passengers and crew. Players must travel back in time to the moment of a character's death to identify the names and fates of all those aboard. While some characters and their ends are clear, it takes skilled inference, memory, and logical deduction to determine the outcomes of all sixty passengers.

Portal/Portal 2 (Android, PC, PlayStation 3, Switch, Xbox 360)

Screenshot of the video game Portal.  An aerial shot with a portal on the left and platforms in the middle with an abyss below.

Now you're thinking with portals! A duology of first person puzzle platformers, Portal and Portal 2 ask you to solve a series of tasks for Aperture Science Laboratories, mainly relating to the movement of yourself and objects through portal technology, which connects two spaces instantaneously. While the game teaches you how to use the portal system, some mental agility is needed to get around obstacles, build up speed, or avoid elements entirely.

In addition to the base game, both games have challenge modes for solving rooms with the fewest portals, fewest steps, fastest time, et cetera. Portal 2 also includes a 2-player mode, adding cooperation and coordination to the skills you'll need to win.

The Witness (iOS, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)

Boasting over 500 puzzles, The Witness is an open-world game about visual perception and perspective. While all the puzzles fit the mold of line connection on a given grid, the grids are far from typical brain training games.

The Witness asks you to look not just at what's in front of you but consider the whole of your surroundings to reveal puzzles you would never have imagined.

The Room (Android, iOS, PC, Switch)

Screenshot of The Room.  A large gold and blue safe with clues and writing on it.

What if the person who played an escape room before you left behind all their cryptic notes, and your task was to understand the person who came before you, their research, and where they went wrong? The Room is a game that gives you just that. The 3-D puzzle game presents you with a box that you must unlock, which, once opened, gives access to more boxes, which unlocks more things to assist your research of the person who previously unlocked the box and began to lose their mind.

The Talos Principle (Android, iOS, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One)

Screenshot of the video game The Talos Principle.  A box with a tripod shooting 3 red lasers in a snowy landscape.

The Talos Principle contains the best of both worlds for those who want a game that offers open-world exploration and challenging content. Players can choose first or third person gameplay as they explore a postapocalyptic future from an artificial intelligence's perspective. Tetromino-shaped items called sigils are collected to build tiling puzzles that unlock new areas or worlds along your journey.

In addition to the main story, hidden pieces of narrative and puzzles can be found dotted around the landscape, encouraging you to explore every nook and cranny.

Her Story (Android, iOS, PC)

Screenshot of the video game Her Story.  Old windows 3.1 style folders and tabs desktop with a video to play of a lady wearing an orange shirt.

Full motion video (FMV) puzzle games are rare in the video game world, mainly due to the difficulty in pulling them off in a way that's genuine and narratively satisfying. Her Story is a rare game that gets the tricky aspects of FMV exactly right, leading to an immersive and gripping mystery. The player searches through a database of police case files and interviews, attempting to solve the disappearance of a man primarily through the testimony given by his wife.

Cube Escape Series (Android, Browser, iOS, PC)

Screenshot of the video game Cube Escape Series.  A raven sitting and drinking tea in an SNES quality old style room.

Of all the point and click room escape apps, the Cube Escape Series stands out in size, currently sporting ten mainline games. Subtle narrative and surrealist tone lend to unconventional logical leaps and puzzle solving strategies.

While most of the entries in the series are solo adventures, "The Past Within" is a two player mystery that has players communicating between past and future selves.

Kerbal Space Program (PC, PlayStations 4 and 5, Xbox One)

Screenshot of the video game The Kerbal Space Program.  A satellite orbiting close to an asteroid on a screen of black.

Think you're smart enough to be a rocket scientist? Time to put those math skills to the test. Featuring a realistic physics engine, Kerbal Space Program challenges you to build spacecraft and pull off NASA level orbital maneuvers as you help grow the Kerbals' budding space program.

Gorogoa (Android, iOS, PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One)

Gorogoa was initially conceived as an interactive graphic novel, meaning the visuals of this brain game are both beautiful and integral to how the story unfolds. Through the manipulation of images on a 2x2 grid, as well as manipulation of the grid itself, small animated scenes emerge, and the world of the puzzles and the game itself change.

Smart People Love Brain Training Games

Being smart is something that must be worked at and trained over time. Brain training games can help strengthen your strategic thinking, your memory, your recall, and even keep you young by lowering your brain age. The smartest people conquer the ultimate intelligence pinnacle, The Great Gotham Challenge, with virtual team building for large groups and in person team building challenges that take place on the streets of New York City. Contact us to learn more about our genius level challenges.

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Our “off-the-shelf” challenges are available to run on pre-set courses. However, what if you want something more bespoke?

Our custom challenges give our clients complete freedom to shape the experience as they see fit, from format to difficulty to theme - we add special details like inside jokes, product or industry themes, or company history, mission and vision elements.

We can build in premium experiences (like buzzing down the river in a speedboat;) luxurious, private locations; or even build bespoke challenges in a completely new city for your special event. If a custom event sounds like a good match for your team and fits within your budget, we’d love to help. Just ask!

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"We had high expectations and they were far exceeded. The challenges were difficult, extremely creative, and completely customized to our group. Suffice it to say our group couldn't have possibly had more fun. Thank you for making me look great!"

Robin Manager, Hedge fund office

"I'm always very skeptical of these "team-building" events, but this one was over the top. They successfully handled our 120-person team, with puzzles that were really challenging. The whole experience couldn't have been more engaging!"

Grace Lab manager, IBM Quantum Computing

"One of our directors told me it was one of the best organized online challenges they've done."

Mike Team Lead, Google

"[The challenge] shattered any expectations I had. For a fully remote event, I expected a bit of cheesy fun, but the production quality is unbelievable. I absolutely recommend everyone to try it."

Raj Tech Team Member, Meta

"To quote one of my teammates: "This [challenge] was mean and hard, and resultantly perfect." Thank you for the stellar experience, service, and fun."

Danica Team Lead, Software engineering company

"For a few hours, you get to feel like a secret agent as you traverse the mundane real world with a VIP pass for curated wonder."

Room Escape Artist Industry Review,

"A mixture of live actors, custom puzzles, and clues built around pre-existing and famous structures in lends the event a sort of glam DaVinci Code energy."

No Proscenium Industry Review,


Great Gotham Challenge is a once-in-a-lifetime event that starts at $2000 for our most basic, 2-hour in-person experience. However, most of our events are several times that scale - If you're dreaming big for a custom event, so are we!

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