Games That Help Kids Think Critically

When gamers pick up a controller, they're frequently placed in the role of the hero or the protagonist that always wins. But that doesn't always challenge them to think critically or examine all sides of a situation rationally. In fact, what can help some incredible games and apps stand out from other titles is that they don't simply ask kids for RIGHT or WRONG answers. Instead, they encourage them to experiment and consider the shades of gray in problems. Players interested in testing their emotional responses may want to check out our list of the Best Empathy Games, Apps, and Websites as well.

Browse Games That Help Kids Think Critically

Tozzle - Toddler's favorite puzzle App Poster Image
Drag-and-drop shape puzzles made especially for toddlers.
Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
(2010)
(2010)
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Montessori Geometry - Recognize and learn shapes App Poster Image
Amazing starter geometry app is fun and comprehensive.
Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
(2013)
(2012)
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BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! Game Poster Image
Think outside the box with this charming, fun puzzler.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
(2019)
(2019)
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Busy Water App Poster Image
Solve and create puzzles that gush with STEM learning.
Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
(2016)
(2016)
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Super Mario Maker 2 Game Poster Image
Fun, accessible editing tools expose kids to game design.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
(2019)
(2019)
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The Last Campfire Game Poster Image
Utterly charming, brilliantly made puzzle game.
Platforms: Apple Arcade
(2020)
(2020)
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Mini Metro Game Poster Image
Mass transit simulator is simple, marvelous, hard to master.
Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, Windows
(2018)
(2018)
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Mystery Math Town App Poster Image
Great math practice with fun story, entertaining characters.
Devices: iPad
(2013)
(2013)
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Savings Spree App Poster Image
Kids learn financial literacy through game-show action.
Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
(2011)
(2011)
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biped Game Poster Image
Co-op puzzler is violence-free and promotes teamwork.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows
(2020)
(2020)
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BrainPOP Featured Movie App Poster Image
Daily films from educational group provide tons of learning.
Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Windows app
(2010)
(2011)
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Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics Game Poster Image
Collection of classics promotes friendly social experiences.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
(2020)
(2020)
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Good Job! Game Poster Image
Office-themed puzzler rewards creative and logical thinking.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
(2020)
(2020)
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Lumines Remastered Game Poster Image
Classic puzzle game buzzes with new immersive play feature.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
(2018)
(2018)
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Maggie's Earth Adventures Website Poster Image
Save the planet with these terrific learning activities.
URL: http://www.missmaggie.org/
(2013)
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Moving Out Game Poster Image
Fun co-op sim is appropriate for all ages, skill levels.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
(2020)
(2020)
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Roundguard Game Poster Image
Clever pinball-esque puzzler has a bit of mild combat.
Platforms: Apple Arcade, Windows
(2020)
(2020)
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The Path of Motus Game Poster Image
Adventure tackles bullying with positivity and mild combat.
Platforms: Windows
(2018)
(2018)
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Untitled Goose Game Game Poster Image
Don't let your goose get cooked in feathered fun puzzler.
Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, Windows
(2019)
(2019)
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Wiseland App Poster Image
Journey to explore big questions only gets you so far.
Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
(2017)
(2017)
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Marble Math App Poster Image
Marble mazes make for fun math practice.
Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Kindle Fire
(2012)
(2013)
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Abzu Game Poster Image
Artistic aquatic adventure filled with mystery, wonder.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows
(2016)
(2016)
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BrainPOP Website Poster Image
Videos and activities are fun, accurate, and valuable.
URL: https://www.brainpop.com
(2012)
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Dragon Quest Builders 2 Game Poster Image
Terrific building game with positive messages and teamwork.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
(2021)
(2021)
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Cargo-Bot App Poster Image
Challenging puzzler teaches kids to think like programmers.
Devices: iPad
(2013)
(2012)
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Celeste Game Poster Image
Charming, challenging platformer with excellent heroine.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
(2018)
(2018)
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Dreams Game Poster Image
Extraordinary collection of powerful content-creation tools.
Platforms: PlayStation 4
(2020)
(2020)
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Gamestar Mechanic Game Poster Image
Grand adventure teaches you to design your own games.
Platforms: Mac, Windows
(2010)
(2010)
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Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes Game Poster Image
Excellent VR puzzler teaches kids to cooperate, communicate.
Platforms: Mac, Oculus Rift, PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, Windows
(2016)
(2016)
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Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaires’ Conspiracy - Deluxe Edition Game Poster Image
Puzzler with a great female protagonist, clever conundrums.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
(2019)
(2019)
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Microsoft Flight Simulator Game Poster Image
Excellent simulator encourages interest in flight/piloting.
Platforms: Windows
(2020)
(2020)
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Mission US: For Crown or Colony? Game Poster Image
First-person history adventure asks kids to choose sides.
Platforms: Mac, Windows
(2011)
(2011)
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Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom Game Poster Image
Fantasy RPG with mild violence, good role models, messages.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows
(2018)
(2018)
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Poly Bridge 2 Game Poster Image
If you dream it and build it, will it stay standing?
Platforms: Windows
(2020)
(2020)
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Scribblenauts Mega Pack Game Poster Image
Entertaining puzzlers bring loads of fun with bonus content.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
(2018)
(2018)
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SuperMash Game Poster Image
Mix and match to create endless gaming possibilities.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
(2020)
(2020)
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The Talos Principle Game Poster Image
Tech-focused sci-fi puzzler challenges, makes players think.
Platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows
(2014)
(2014)
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Tetris Effect Game Poster Image
Classic puzzle gameplay remixed with VR, engaging effects.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR
(2018)
(2018)
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Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince Game Poster Image
Gorgeous, brain-teasing fantasy teamwork adventure.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
(2019)
(2019)
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Two Point Hospital Game Poster Image
Fun and a dose of crude humor are prescribed in this sim.
Platforms: Linux, Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
(2020)
(2020)
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Wargroove Game Poster Image
Creativity, compelling play mark fantastic indie strategy.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
(2019)
(2019)
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Figure This! Website Poster Image
Complex math concepts presented as real-world examples.
URL: http://www.figurethis.org/index.html
(2012)
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FTL: Faster Than Light Game Poster Image
Innovative space strategy game rewards thoughtful play.
Platforms: Mac, Windows
(2012)
(2012)
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Scribblenauts Remix App Poster Image
Vocabulary-building word puzzle game shines on iOS.
Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire, Windows app
(2011)
(2011)
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Sid Meier’s Civilization VI Game Poster Image
Amazing world simulation can teach players about history.
Platforms: Windows
(2016)
(2016)
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Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth - Rising Tide Game Poster Image
Oceanic expansion makes sci-fi world simulation even better.
Platforms: Mac, Windows
(2015)
(2015)
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The Witness Game Poster Image
Brilliant puzzle game is challenging but deeply rewarding.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows
(2016)
(2016)
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Geoguessr Website Poster Image
Addictive, globe-trotting guessing game gets kids thinking.
URL: https://geoguessr.com/
(2013)
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Faeria Game Poster Image
Fun strategy blends a living board game and card collection.
Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Xbox One
(2020)
(2020)
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Tharsis Game Poster Image
Challenging, complex survival dice game is hard but fun.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows
(2016)
(2016)
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Fire Emblem Fates Game Poster Image
Branching turn-based strategy game with moderate violence.
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
(2016)
(2016)
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Fire Emblem: Three Houses Game Poster Image
Tough strategy game forces players to make hard choices.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
(2019)
(2019)
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Frostpunk Game Poster Image
Brutal, bleak society-building sim rewards quick thinking.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
(2019)
(2019)
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Infinifactory Game Poster Image
Tough engineering logic puzzler is mysterious and creepy.
Platforms: Mac, Windows
(2015)
(2015)
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Shadow of the Colossus (PS4) Game Poster Image
Beautiful, mysterious, haunting tale gets new life on PS4.
Platforms: PlayStation 4
(2018)
(2018)
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The Banner Saga Game Poster Image
Great strategy game with rich fantasy mythology.
Platforms: Mac, Windows
(2014)
(2014)
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The Long Dark Game Poster Image
Very challenging survival simulation has moderate violence.
Platforms: Mac, Windows
(2014)
(2014)
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The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle Game Poster Image
Green-themed expansion encourages ecological thinking.
Platforms: Mac, Windows
(2020)
(2020)
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Headliner: NoviNews Game Poster Image
Clever adventure game shows the consequences of media bias.
Platforms: Windows
(2018)
(2018)
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Into the Stars Game Poster Image
Lead humanity through space in stat-heavy simulation.
Platforms: Windows
(2016)
(2016)
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Massive Chalice Game Poster Image
Epic game of tactics that spans (and spawns) generations.
Platforms: Windows, Xbox One
(2015)
(2015)
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Pathologic Classic HD Game Poster Image
Morally ambiguous dialogue adventure tough yet engrossing.
Platforms: Windows
(2015)
(2015)
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Port Royale 4 Game Poster Image
Historical simulation may help kids learn about trade.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
(2020)
(2020)
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This War of Mine Game Poster Image
Violent, bleak survival game has new look at horrors of war.
Platforms: Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
(2014)
(2014)
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Valkyria Chronicles 4 Game Poster Image
Talky, engaging, turn-based tactics with some lewd dialogue.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
(2018)
(2018)
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1979 Revolution: Black Friday Game Poster Image
Tense, captivating, violent, personal recreation of history.
Platforms: Mac, Windows
(2016)
(2016)
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Divinity: Original Sin II - Definitive Edition Game Poster Image
Updated adventure has bloody combat, moral flexibility.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
(2018)
(2018)
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Tropico 5 Game Poster Image
Dictator simulation imposes violence; lots of strategy.
Platforms: Linux, Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox 360, iPhone
(2014)
(2014)
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A Plague Tale: Innocence Game Poster Image
Gripping, bloody tale of siblings against impossible odds.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
(2019)
(2019)
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The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit Game Poster Image
Emotional tale centers on kid's fantasy coping mechanism.
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
(2018)
(2018)
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Detroit: Become Human Game Poster Image
Choose your story in mature sci-fi tale of society, morals.
Platforms: PlayStation 4
(2018)
(2018)
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Tell Me Why Game Poster Image
Emotionally charged story invites dialogue and reflection.
Platforms: Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
(2020)
(2020)
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