If you've grown up with games from the 80s, you are familiar with titles like Zelda 2 and Castlevania 2 - needlessly obtuse weird RPGs that feature great exploration among some really horrendous puzzles.
If you wish for a game that does those things well, look no further than La-Mulana.
La-Mulana, aside from being fun to say, is a side-scrolling Metroidvania where you descend into the ruins and search for treasure.
The big thing that sets this game apart are countless stones you come across with hints for progression written on them. They replace various NPCs from aforementioned games that would give you cryptic hints. For example, the first location presents you with some simple stuff, like saying that a courageous man will prevail. Nearby are a spike pit with an unreachable chest. Simple enough, jump onto the spikes, they disappear. Not even worthy enough to spoiler-tag this.
The game grows in scope and complexity very shortly, so if you're not the type to read, think and write, this isn't the game for you. There are no simple puzzle rooms. A hint for a puzzle can be found halfway across the world, and some of them are Fucking Insane. However, that's the charm of this game. It's not shy about its inspirations and isn't afraid of being a dick. Platforming and battle difficulty is quite high, but puzzles are what make it an unforgettable experience. It's one of the few games that actually feel like you're going through an old temple filled with traps, and not just trekking through a bunch of video game levels.
The game will throw everything it has at you, from non-euclidean spaces, hidden doors, and puzzle bosses, to hidden background details that you need to notice. It's filled with surprises. Every boss is so different that some of them feel like playing an entirely different game. Every location has its own gimmicks and an incredible soundtracks. Every single puzzle is memorable.
It's a Metroidvania that keeps surprising you in ways you didn't think were possible. It's not just a game about obtaining double jump to go above a pit, it's a game where getting some items will result in confusion, until suddenly, you remember reading something about using that one thing in front of that one statue. And there are barely ANY games that do that. Too many of them are afraid of you being stuck, while La-Mulana prides itself on it. Just that simple thing made me feel like I was overcoming something unique, and not just going through the motions of solving a Portal Chamber or a Zelda dungeon room.
Unfortunately, sometimes it might be a bit TOO ridiculous. However, I would still recommend experiencing it because there's nothing like it.
Here's a spoiler of a puzzle that gave me hell my first time through as an appetizer: "Simply wandering will not lessen the illusion. Courage will grant thy wish--the courage to jump into the illusion. The courage to search on bended knee for a single fallen item."
So, what the hell is this?
Well, mercifully nearby, there are a bunch of vases you can break. Your usual Zelda-like pots that are all over the place in the game. One of them drops a shuriken. Not uncommon, it's your first sub-weapon, enemies often drop them to replenish your ammo. However, the game usually drops them in fives, and there's ONE there. Not that difficult when spelled out, but when you've been programmed to not care what comes out of the vases, it just doesn't register.
Furthermore, if you haven't played the game, you're thinking, "oh, and then you duck?". Well, no. The game has no "duck" button, as down does something else. HOWEVER, just to fuck with you, down actually works on that single tile, and it drops you through the floor! Like, yeah, it's kinda bullshit, but it's also unforgettable!
Honestly, the closest video game experience that gave me this sort of rush when solving a puzzle was Outer Wilds, and personally, I'd say La-Mulana is better.