Sudoku is one of the most popular, challenging, and accessible puzzle games ever created, but after finishing the hundredth puzzle, you might be looking for a little more variation. Although it is undoubtedly unique, there are many puzzles similar to Sudoku, as well as a wide range of Sudoku variations you can try instead.
Several prominent puzzle games share many structural and/or logistical similarities with Sudoku, such as Nonomino, Kenken, Hotori, and several others. However, if you don't want to diverge too much from Sudoku, you can try one of its popular variations, like Wordoku or Killer Sudoku.
If you're looking for that next best puzzle game that reminds you of Sudoku, we've detailed an extensive list of alternatives for you. Each of these puzzles has a striking resemblance to Sudoku with its own twists and will give you a wider variety of puzzles to challenge you daily.
Sudoku puzzles are a great way to pass the time on a long commute while also providing mental benefits such as improved memory, boosting logical thinking, and the development of quick-thinking skills. But playing the same version of the same puzzle game over and over can get dull.
Luckily, there are a handful of puzzle games very similar to Sudoku that will rejuvenate your passion for puzzle games without sacrificing the mental challenge or level of entertainment.
Sometimes referred to as Jigsaw Sudoku, Nonomino has the classic box shape of Sudoku, but the interior of the puzzle is an order nine polyomino.
A polyomino is a title given to a plane geometric figure formed by joining one or more equal-sized squares edge to edge. The most famous example is arguably a filled Tetris board. Nonomino is so named because it is an order nine polyomino, made from connecting nine equal-sized squares edge-to-edge.
The squares will various shapes that ultimately connect to create one dominant image; in this case, it is the classic square.
The rules of Nonomino are very similar to Sudoku, with one overarching difference in the shape of the puzzle's squares.
In a classic 9x9 Sudoku board, you'll have 9, 3x3 squares that divide the board, and the player has to make sure that each row, column, and square is labeled 1-9 without any numerical repetitions.
Nonomino has the same rule, but you no longer have the classic 3x3 squares. Instead, they follow the polyomino's criteria where you have sections constructed from nine squares and can be in various shapes, like an L, a T, or a simple square. Again, think Tetris.
These sections are typically colored in unique shades to set them apart, and the player has to make sure they adhere to the rules of Sudoku within these sections instead of the classic squares they're used to. Once every section, row, and column is appropriately labeled 1-9 without repetitions, the puzzle is complete.
For those who enjoy a little more math in their puzzle games, KenKen is a great Sudoku alternative. The structure and target of KenKen are fairly similar to Sudoku, but the puzzle's strategy and execution are different.
In Sudoku, you can place numbers 1-9 (or a variation if you have a larger or smaller puzzle) in any location as long as there aren't repetitions in each box, column, and row. You don't have to do anything with the numbers other than placing them properly.
In KenKen, you are faced with basic mathematical operations, including:
You must fill in the board by following the application of these mathematical signs and using the numbers based on the board's measurement (so if it's a 4x4 board, you'll use numbers 1-4).
The KenKen board is set up the same as Sudoku in that you are given a grid of squares composed of an equal number of rows and columns. For this example, we'll say that it is an easy 4X4 grid.
Within each grid, there are cages, which are bolded sections that could contain one or multiple squares in various shapes (ex. an L-shaped cage or a straight cage).
The goal of the game is to fill in the grid so that no number repeats in a row or column. The key exception with KenKen is that numbers are allowed to repeat within a cage, unlike Sudoku, where repetition is not permitted within a square.
Start by finding the cages with only one square and fill that square with the number indicated in the upper left-hand corner. This is the only number you can play in this cage and will help eliminate other options within the row and column.
After you've done this, start solving the mathematical operations located in the upper left-hand corner of every cage. One example, on a 4x4 grid, would be a cage with two squares labeled 5+. You can either place a three and a two in each square or a four and one, depending on the puzzle.
As the grid sizes increase, so do the possibilities within each cage and the puzzle's overall difficulty.
This puzzle game is a great twist on the classic Sudoku solving system. Any Sudoku board is generally filled with plank cells and squares within a larger grid, and only a small number of these cells are provided a number.
These numbers are the only clues the player gets to solving the puzzle, so through the process of trial and error, they must fill in the board around the numbers they are given.
The twist with Hitori is that the grid is already completely filled with numbers. You still have to follow the classic rules of Sudoku, where numbers can't repeat in a row or column, but instead of filling them in, you have to eliminate duplicates by coloring them out.
It is also not required that each number occurs at least once within each row and column.
When you start a Hitori puzzle, it will already be filled with numbers corresponding to the grid's size (ex. 8X8 grid has numbers 1-8). There will not be any shaded squares to start; that must be done entirely by the player.
There are a few rules you have to follow as you start to shade in the Hitori board:
If all of these rules are met, then you have successfully solved the puzzle. Remember that it is not required for all numbers 1-8 (or whatever sized board you have) to appear in every row and column; they just can't repeat.
If you enjoyed the idea of mathematical operations being combined with the rules of Sudoku but found KenKen to be a bit much for you, Kakuro is a much similar but slightly simpler alternative.
Rather than worrying about four different mathematical operations within one puzzle, Kakuro is built around strategically placing numbers on the grid to create the desired sum.
The players must use numbers from 1 to 9 to create these sums, and no number can repeat within a divided row or column. If there is a shaded or divided cell between two blank cells, then the numbers can repeat within the individual sections of that row or column.
Visually, a Kakuro board looks something like a combination of a Sudoku grid and a crossword puzzle. There are three different kinds of cells within the grid:
The blank cells can be found in pairs, threes, or other variations, depending on the grid's size and layout.
The best way to start is to solve a smaller section of blank cells, like a pair, and use these digits to work your way throughout the grid. Once all of the sums within each section of blank cells are correct and no digit within a connected row or column repeats, the puzzle is complete.
Futoshiki is a great way to add some simple spice to Sudoku with only two rule variations. The first variation is that you only have to ensure the numbers within the grid don't repeat in any row or column. There are no larger squares to worry about in Futoshiki.
The other variation is that you must adhere to the inequality signs that are placed throughout the grid. These greater than or less than signs might be between cells in a column or a row, and if you notice the numbers you have filled in don't prove the sign (ex. 5<3), they are incorrectly placed.
The most common Futoshiki board is a 5x5 grid, but the sizes could potentially range up to 9x9 puzzles. The numbers you will use adhere to the size of the grid so that a standard 5x5 would use numbers 1-5.
Each Futoshiki grid will come with inequality signs scattered around the board and a handful of numbers already filled in for you. Typically, the player will only get around 3-5 pre-determined numbers on a Futoshiki board versus Sudoku that will provide twice or even thrice this amount.
The cells within the grid where numbers are placed are not connected like a Sudoku grid. There is space between each where an inequality sign could be placed. This is the reason why you don't have to worry about a square of cells not having duplicate numbers because they don't exist.
You do, however, have to ensure that digits don't repeat within a column or row and that every inequality sign is proved true on the board. Once you have done this properly and filled in every cell, the puzzle is complete.
The Numbrix puzzle is an extremely new addition to the world of logic and grid puzzles and was created by Marilyn Vos Savant in 2008.
Apart from the fact that this puzzle involves a number and a grid, it isn't too similar to Sudoku, but it is just as challenging and satisfying when solved.
In Sudoku, the numbers you use are confined to your grid's size, which can vary, and cannot be repeated within a row, column, or square. However, these numbers will appear more than once on the grid as a whole.
Comparatively, Numbrix puzzles are always the same size because the player is required to fill in the board with digits from 1-81. As a result, the numbers never repeat, so you don't have to worry about preventing duplicates within the grid.
Each Numbrix puzzle is built with a 9x9 grid and has pre-determined numbers placed in cells along the outer rows and columns. For the most part, the grid's central area is completely blank for the player to fill.
The goal of the puzzle is to fill the grid with the numbers 1-81, but of course, it isn't that simple. The conditions of the game are:
Once you have filled the entire grid in sequential order from 1-81 in all horizontal or vertical paths, the puzzle is complete.
If you're getting bored of the typical Sudoku puzzle, but you still enjoy its intrinsic rules and set-up, there are multiple variations of this well-loved puzzle game that might add that much-needed spice to a beloved classic.
Brace yourself for the ultimate Sudoku challenge with a brain-busting Killer Sudoku puzzle. This variation cleverly combines the rules of Sudoku with those of Kakuro, which we discussed previously.
You still have your standard grid set-up, and you must ensure numbers do not repeat within a column, row, and box. However, now you need to ensure the numbers within the colored cages add up to the assigned number.
We guarantee you'll be chewing the end of your pencil for quite a while with these puzzles.
The Sudoku Cube is a downright ingenious invention! This variation combines arguably the two most popular mind games ever to exist, Sudoku and the Rubik's Cube.
Instead of trying to get a single color on each side of the cube, your goal is to make sure you have the numbers 1 through 9 listed on every side.
This puzzle is great for individuals who enjoy Sudoku but want a version of the game that is a little more interactive and hands-on.
Are you sick of looking at all those pesky numbers when playing Sudoku? Then you might want to try Wordoku instead.
This variation has all the same rules and systems as Sudoku, but you'll fill the grid with letters instead of numbers. But not just any letters.
At the bottom of each Wordoku grid is a key with a list of letters you must use within the puzzle. The number of letters you are given will depend on the size of the grid, just like it does with regular Sudoku.
The nifty difference with this variation is that these letters aren't just randomly provided. One of the goals of the puzzle is to find the secret word that the puzzle spells diagonally from the top left corner to the bottom right.
Sometimes, the fastest way to solve the entire puzzle is to figure out this word first and then work around it once it's been placed.
Not to be confused with Hexadecimal Sudokus (a giant version of Sudoku on a 16x16 grid), Hex Sudoku is its own unique variation of the puzzle.
The main difference with Hex Sudoku is that the shape of the grid has moved away from its classic grid square to a more creative shape, a hexagon. Not only is the entire grid a hexagon, but all of the individual cells and bolded sections are as well.
You still have to make sure that numbers don't repeat within a bolded section and row, but instead of columns, the hexagon shape creates diagonals instead.
This variation is probably the closest to the original Sudoku, but sometimes a new shape is all you need to jump back into your favorite puzzle game without getting bored.
Sudoku is a fantastic puzzle game that is loved by many and can theoretically be solved by anyone. But don't limit yourself to just the challenges posed by this game alone. Sudoku variations and similar puzzle games, like KenKen and Numbrix, can help ensure you never get bored of these entertaining and mentally stimulating games you can play anytime, anywhere.
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